Awareness of the World's Greatest Creation
"The Human Body"
Motivate Kids to be Fit (1 of 2)
"Part 1 of 2"
As parents, I think we can all agree that when it comes to encouraging kids to make healthy choices, well, it's not the easiest of tasks. So what's a parent to do?
It begins by creating healthy choices without being too obvious about it. After all, for many kids if you say the word healthy, they'll turn up their nose in disgust! It isn't uncommon for kids to push aside healthy options for the "fun" food, which is heavily promoted through television.
I have a number of parents telling me, "If I don't buy the food they like, they won't eat anything!" The reality is if they get hungry enough, trust me, they will eat. You've never heard of a child starving to death because his mother refused to feed him junk food, have you?
Children WILL choose to eat healthy food. It's just a process that takes time and creativity. There are plenty of good foods that your kids can learn to enjoy. It's simply a matter of making gradual changes and allowing their palate to adjust to the changes. In other words, their palate is used to the high sodium and fat levels in food, therefore they will need to adjust to foods that don't contain so much salt and fat. This process takes a while.
A couple of changes that I made in the beginning for my kids was something as basic as making a smoothie with almond milk and fruit versus a milkshake. I served baked tortilla chips and salsa instead of french fries and ketchup. And for a snack, they ate sliced apple with almond butter instead of boxed snacks high in sugar, fat and calories. Eventually, they get used to it, trust me!
Keep in mind that the changes you make cannot be dramatic. In order for changes to stick, it must be a slow and steady process. In other words, don't clean out all your cabinets and refrigerator in order to eliminate all of the junk food, your kids will flip out, not to mention fight you every step of the way. To change nutrition habits, it needs to be a "work in progress" but once you're there, your children will be eating and feeling better, and so will you!
Below are suggestions to encourage your child to make healthier selections now AND later.
Put your kids in charge of packing their own lunch.
The rule in my house is when you entered 5th grade, or a responsible age, you are responsible for making your own lunch. Waiting until they were in 5th grade worked because the anticipation of "being in charge" of their own lunch made them really want to do it. It was a win-win: they felt grown-up and there is a feeling of vindication; one last duty is passed on!
Allow your kids to make a list of what they wanted for their lunches. The first time you did this, there maybe only one food group listed, sweets, so take the time to explain that they are allowed to choose one "sweet," as part of their lunch. Besides that, they had to choose their fruit or snack of choice, and the type of sandwich they wanted. Letting your child assist in the grocery list is also a win-win situation because it teaches them organization and keeps them involved with taking care of their body.
Pay attention to how much your child eats and when they are overeating. A simple half of a sandwich (you'd be surprised how many kids throw out most of their sandwich) or a tortilla roll-up, or some whole wheat crackers along with a fruit and healthy snack will most often satisfy them. They will let you know if the lunch didn't provide enough nourishment or fuel for the afternoon. I try teach my kids to avoid eating to the point of being "full" as that sets the stage to overeat at every meal. I just suggest that when they're not hungry anymore it's time to stop. This is a valuable lesson for children as well as adults!
Teach your kids what constitutes a healthy lunch, if they don't learn now; it's unlikely they'll worry about it later. Their lunch should include a healthy dose of live food, minerals and nutrients. The bulk of the meal should be natural and colorful, not the junk with added colors, dyes, preservatives and additives. You want to make sure your child knows that reading the food label is essential and to steer away from food that contain high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.
Help your child make good choices by teaching them that healthy foods keep their body strong and fast. Kids will respond better to making food choices based on how they'll feel versus "it's bad for you." The minute you start referring to their food as healthy, to them it becomes unappealing. When society changes it's mindset about what is truly food for the body, then eating to live will become so appealing to everyone.