Motivate Kids to be Fit (2 of 2)
Take part in planning and preparing family meals.
I know dinner-time can be hectic enough without throwing kids into the role of chef. But here's the deal, the more your kids can participate in family meals, the better choices they will be able to make now and in the future. Healthy eating is a family project and everyone should get involved. I believe that it's as important to focus on healthy living and its excellence, as it is academic excellence and what better way to learn than as a family. Much can be learned at home and food/nutrition should be a priority on the list.
An idea: Begin the week by printing out a sheet listing the days of the week with about five spaces in between. Have each kid and family member pick a day and plan the meals for that day. There must be guidelines, however. It can't be fast food and it can't be candy. If your child writes Snickers or milkshakes for his family meal, then you know you will need to teach your kid how to put together a balanced meal.
A balanced meal must have a nice mix of the basic nutritional requirements: the main food source must come from the surface of the earth (vegetation bearing seeds or fruits that bear seeds), then vegetation of the field, then grains, and finally meat. Generally people think in terms of food groups: protein, carbohydrate and fat. In my house, nutrients, minerals and live/alkaline foods are the focus. The food pyramid provides helpful suggestions, but it really needs to be revamped. Some foods should not be eaten by young children because their digestive system is not ready to properly break it down. When kids are very young, choose foods that do not need a lot of preparation. Why give a child without teeth food that must be chewed before it can be digested? As the child develops then foods that require a little more effort to eat can be introduced, such as those that need to be peeled or may contain seeds (be aware of choking hazards). Also always eat with color in mind. Mother Nature colored coded our food for a reason and certain foods gravitate to certain systems of the body, so variety is the key. So however you teach them to recognize and appreciate a well-balanced meal, the more respect they will have for food and their bodies.
Don't worry about this taking a lot of time. It should take about 15 minutes to put the list together and pop it on the fridge. Additionally, it will help to create a grocery list! There's great value in teaching your kids that even with limited time or budget, you can still make healthy choices. Make it a family affair and everyone will benefit.
Understand the value in being active every day.
Because kids' lives have become so structured, it seems their only form of activity comes from organized sports. The problem is once they are no longer in sports, then what? What foundation has been laid to keep kids active beyond their structured sports lives? For many families, kids tend to spend too much time in front of the television or the computer. Unfortunately, this generation of kids no longer goes outside to play because of safety reasons or lack of motivation. This leaves our kids at risk of obesity and the illnesses that accompany it.
Teaching children to be active throughout their life is the best thing you can do for them. Encouraging walking or riding a bike when possible is valuable. If you're active (which is so important for your child), include them in your activity. If your child sees you driving around to seek a closer parking spot, he or she will follow suit. If however, your child sees you park far away, he or she will learn that walking isn't bad, it's good. You can even say things like, "I have been so busy this week, I haven't had an opportunity to be as active as I'd like, so this is a good way to get some extra walking in!" The same goes with taking stairs versus the elevator.
Creating ways to include more movement and activity in your family's life will teach them that activity isn't only for the young; it's for every-body!
The 80/20 rule
When it comes to creating a healthy environment for your family, begin with teaching the value of balance and moderation for both exercise and sound nutrition. If kids can learn at a young age that healthy living doesn't mean you can never have dessert or miss a day of exercise, they will be ahead of the game. I think that as adults, we see diets as an all-or-nothing proposition. In other words, rather than using a healthy diet plan to "adjust" your nutrition, we use a diet as a strict list of "do's and don’ts" and end up walking away from it completely because there was no middle ground.
The 80/20 rule provides a nice base by which you and your family can make healthy choices. If 80 percent of the time you and your family eat well and are active, you've got a 20 percent margin of error. That is manageable for many people, including your kids, but it's up to YOU to set the parameters.
Healthy living means making healthy choices MOST of the time. Forcing ourselves or even our children to live 100 percent healthy, 100 percent of the time is pretty unreasonable, especially in a society that advertises bad health as being a good option. Again, that's what derails the best of intentions when trying to lose weight; it’s too restrictive and rarely appropriate for lifelong adherence. So if we, as parents, can provide examples for our kids and demonstrate balance with our choices, such as 80/20, then we are giving them valuable tools for the long haul.
As a parent I understand, all too well, the challenges we face when it comes to regular exercise and sound nutrition for us and our children. Therefore the best we can do is to be a good role model and provide a healthy environment for our kids.
When it comes to healthy living, the perfect solution is to simply do the best you can as a parent. But, keep in mind that you should be progressive in thought and that you may need re-education on health and nutrition. Don't forget that Simple And Good has an educational cleanse program than can be used as a resource, take advantage of it for health's sake. Here's to healthy families!