Kids and healthy eating? Why? They are too young? My response: “why not?”. “This is the perfect time!”. Teach them young. I strongly believe that.
You see, adults usually have a hard time starting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. To actually begin the process, you go through a lot of emotional and mental preparations. And then once you start, it takes a lot of commitment to maintain the lifestyle.
Now, if it takes this much effort to get an adult on the path of healthy living, imagine what the journey for kids. With so much candy, cookies, soft drinks, pastries, readily available technology gadgets, is it possible to get them on the healthy?
Growing up, i bever had half as much sweets available to me. Why do we make them so readily available for our children? How do you get them to move away from their ipads and video games and try oneexercise?
According to http://www.cdc.gov, quoting their article “TYPE 2 DIABETES IN KIDS”, “Kids who get type 2 diabetes are usually diagnosed in their early teens. One reason is that hormones present during puberty make it harder for the body use insulin, especially for girls, who are more likely than boys to develop type 2 diabetes. That’s an important reason to help your kids take charge of their health while they’re young”
It can be extremely challenging to get them to adopt a healthy lifestyle. This difficulty can be overcome with some commitment from the parents and guardians. Below are some tips that may be of help to assist your children fall in love with the art of living healthy.
START THEM YOUNG
Most parents think that once their kids are able to tolerate solid foods, they have to go with the processed cereals and bottled mashed up vegetables readily available the grocery stores. Actually, you do not have to. There are healthy cereals and other vegetables readily available for babies at local health food stores. As a parent, you can buy fresh roots, vegetables, fish or chicken. Then cook and mash or blend. You can also even put them in small containers in the refrigerator and warm them up as needed.
EXPLAIN HEALTHY EATING TO THEM
One thing that i love about kids is that they love to communicate. They especially love one on one engaging conversations and games. Not all kids will understand your message on healthy living the same way. For some kids, you may have to come up with fancy fairytales, just to help them grasp the difference between healthy and unhealthy. For other kids, you actually have to use visuals maybe in the form of games. I recently gave a talk to kids on healthy living. I focused on food as the energy necessary to do the fun things kids love to do like jumping, kicking and throwing balls, rolling on the ground, etc. Healthy food gives you lasting energy while unhealthy food gives you a few minutes of high energyband then you just crash.
It is important that we avoid labelling food as “good” or “bad” or cause kids to fear food. You can ask your kids’ teachers or daycare workers for some appropriate ideas to help you help them embrace a healthier journey.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Kids normally look up to their parents/guardians as mini gods. They literally want to repeat everything the adult does. As parent or guardian, you cannot be telling your child to eat healthy when you clearly fail to model that kind of behavior. Allow your children see you eating your fruits and vegetables frequently. Invite them on your walks outside for daily exercise. Allow them to kick their ball around outside while you do a few exercises in the backyard. Take time to explain to them why you are drinking your green smoothie every morning. Try not to give them a “lecture” on nutrition.
Kids secretly love to be incharge. They desire to be the boss. They get excited and anxious when asked to participate and make decisions regarding their meals. Take them to the grocery store and allow them to pick out the fruits and vegetables. At home, with your guidance, let them decide what goes into their salads. Also allow them to put all their food items into their own bowl. Give them the salad dressing bottle to pour over their salad. I am a fan of homemade salad dressings. Create some home made dressings with their input. Then they become extra curious. This is when they will surely want to taste the food they helped prepare.
LIMIT THEIR CHOICES
When you give them too many choices, kids tend to pick the less healthy ones. Kids will pick a blueberry muffin over a handful of blueberries. Allow them choose between green apple slices and a turkey sandwich with green vegetables for example. Or pick between strawberries and a fresh homemade strawberry milk shake. Once in a while let them choose between a fast food hamburger and home made hamburger. Take the journey with them one day at a time.
ONE AT A TIME
Introduce one healthy food at a time. This helps the kids explore the smell, taste and texture. Some kids will never like bananas just simply because of the texture. To them, it feels weird. They may enjoy the taste but the texture just makes it taste bad.
Also, this strategy is important for you as a parent because you can properly monitor any allergies.
Kids love simple explainations and want to basically do as you do. This actually makes it easy for parents because they will always follow your lead. It may take a few tries to get there, but do not be easily discouraged and give up. Remember when kids adopt a healthy lifestyle, it helps the parents financially in the long run because you may not have to take them to the doctor as often as you may do now.
WLS, FNS (NASM)