Parents play a vital role in the life of their children. You are supposed to provide or do all you can to grow and develop to become well-rounded adults. Children are the future of society, so they should be healthy and fit. One essential way to help build them into responsible citizens is by teaching them good health habits early on.
Getting them on the right track is crucial if we want a healthy generation. As parents committed to raising healthy children, you often find yourself caught in the middle of a dietary dilemma: how can you encourage your child to eat well when you don’t know what “well” means? Instead of stressing over what your child can and cannot eat, take back control by guiding them towards a healthy lifestyle. Here are ten tips to help you raise a healthy child.
1. Let Them Be Curious
Kids want to learn about the world around them, and feeding their curiosity is one of the easiest ways to make healthy eating habits stick later in life. Please don’t be afraid or embarrassed to answer all their questions about where food comes from (the grocery store) and why we eat some foods but not others (they’re bad for our health).
2. Keep Them Out Of The Cookie Jar.
It’s hard enough trying to prevent your child from becoming a picky eater; it’s even harder when you have cookies just hanging out on the counter, waiting for them to abandon those greens for a snack. Keep tempting sweets stashed safely away so that way, if you do decide to treat, it’s a special occasion for your child.
3. Start Small And Slow When Introducing New Foods
If your child refuses to eat anything but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, it’s time to make some changes. Start by alternating the kinds of bread you use — don’t be afraid of wheat or whole grain; in fact, you should encourage them to try it! Explain that variety is good and eating healthy foods will help keep them growing big and strong.
4. Get Them Involved
Kids are more likely to eat healthy foods when they are involved in creating them. Although you’re probably not ready to let them take over the cooking chores, getting them involved with lunch preparation is a great way to help them learn about nutrition and an easy way to teach basic kitchen skills (so they can whip up dinner one day). Plus, being actively involved will help keep their interest piqued; if they feel like “the boss” or like they’re helping out around the house, chances are your child will be less likely to resist eating something new. Encourage good eating habits with healthy food.
There are even recipes available that pair fresh produce with beans and rice for extra protein punch — which might make your little picky eater feel more like a brave explorer than a bowl of rabbit food.
5. Keep Snacks Handy
Most kids are constantly on the go between school and activities — and in this fast-paced society, they get hungry quickly. It’s better to give them something nutritious than having them run around all day famished! If you’re worried that your child will have no other option but to munch down chips instead of veggies, stash some healthy snacks in their backpack or purse whenever you can (and be sure to include napkins).
Be patient; if your child wants an apple when they are used to snacking on chips, it might take a little while for them to make the switch. That said, remember to help them find new healthy snacks they’ll enjoy: you can always start by pairing fruits and veggies with dips or cooking up some yummy veggie pasta.
6. Mix It Up
If there’s a chance your child will be exposed to junk food at school (or the neighborhood), they shouldn’t be the only one who knows what it tastes like. You might want to try having them sample several varieties of cookies and candies, explaining that these foods are bad for their health because they’re high in sugar, saturated fat, trans fats — or all three! If they know how salty chips taste or how sweet candy can be, they might not give processed foods that much thought.
In addition to learning which foods are nutritious, make sure that your child knows why it’s essential that they eat fruits and vegetables of all colors. Such as explaining to them that eating a rainbow of foods will give them all the vital vitamins and minerals they need to grow big and strong. It’s also crucial that they learn which foods are good for them to know what is appropriate to eat (and when to ask you for help).
7. Make A Chart Together
Just like kids love prizes for earning stickers on their behavior chart, adults can benefit from rewarding themselves with healthy treats if they stick to their diet. It gives them the responsibility of choosing their own food. But since you don’t want to get your child hooked on junk food either, try adding a bonus prize every time you reach a new goal! A small bag of organic chips might be enough incentive for most adults; make sure that you don’t over-indulge too often.
8. Find People To Motivate You
Talk to your friends about healthy goals, or engage with legitimate patient advocacy foundation sponsorship. Sometimes, sponsoring rare disease advocacy can provide an incentive to keep you motivated — and are a great way to get advice from people who have been where you are now.
9. Don’t Feel Bad For Your Child
You have those days when it’s just so much easier to open a can of beans than make them fresh or take the easy way out by ordering fast food instead of slapping together a quick meal at home. But if your child isn’t used to eating healthy, you might be surprised how difficult it can be for them to turn down all those salty potato chips and cupcakes. Just because your child craves unhealthy treats doesn’t mean you have to give in, but they should learn to live without them.
10. Be Proud Of Them
While your child needs to learn how to make the right choices for their health, it’s also vital that you don’t shame them if they end up eating junk food sometimes. Just keep in mind that health is more than just what one eats and try not to get so caught up in punishing yourself over every little thing that you forget to enjoy life. You can encourage and motivate them and always make them feel that you are proud of them.
At this point, you should know how to speak with your child about nutrition and healthy eating. By learning which foods are best for them, your child might be better able to make the right decisions in the future. If they don’t become a perfect eater overnight, don’t get discouraged: working towards a healthier lifestyle will take time, and it isn’t easy.