One of the hardest things a parent can do is let their child make their own decisions. The best we can do as parents is lay a foundation so that when the time comes our kids make the right choice. Of course, we know that won’t always happen. That goes for simple choices like what to eat, to much more complicated ones like choosing the right person to date and even how they are going to handle peer pressure on other topics. Because my girls are still 10 and under, I can’t even think of that one yet!
So let’s stick to the eating healthy one. Laying the foundation for a healthy lifestyle for your kids isn’t always easy. There are temptations everywhere like at sporting events and school birthday parties. Even my kids, who should know better, have to learn to navigate the choppy waters of sugar filled treats and tempting fake foods.
I do what I can to help guide them. We don’t keep anything in the house they shouldn’t eat. Don’t get me wrong. I keep healthier treats in our pantry but nothing with artificial colors and dangerous dyes. I try to explain to my two girls that we only get one body. It’s not about being skinny or fat (don’t ever use those words!) It’s about being healthy and strong. It’s about how we feel.
There are several ways you can teach your children how to live a healthy lifestyle and help them develop habits that will last a lifetime.
Get kids involved in the kitchen
Kids are more likely to eat what they help make. I love to make and pre-pack a bunch of grab and go snacks so my girls have them when they need them. Let them help you. Talk to them about reading labels. I would have saved myself a lot of headaches if I had learned anything about the kitchen before I was 25! Make trying new foods a fun game. If it doesn’t work, keep trying without pressure. Would you want to eat something that someone kept trying to force you to eat? I’m guessing not. Never use food as reward or punishment.
Drink more water
Staying hydrated is so important for kids! They actually have higher water requirements in relation to their body weight than adults. Even mild dehydration can cause tiredness, headaches, lack of concentration and reduced mental performance. If they are bored with regular water throw in some fresh fruit to make it more appealing.
I recently took my daughter Reagan with me to my favorite workout at Burn Bootcamp. She rocked it! We made the whole trip fun and it was a great way to spend the morning together, cheering each other on in our efforts. Check her out in this video !
Kids spend a lot of time plopped in front of the TV or texting with friends. Little changes in your daily routine can make a big difference over time. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away at the store. Take a family walk after dinner. Have random Dance parties. Whether it’s after a bath or cleaning up after dinner, music is a great way to get your kids to move without realizing it’s good for them.
Eat at least one meal a day as a family
We are not always with our children during the day, but, we can be sure they eat at least one healthy meal a day. Plus, it’s a good chance to model portion sizes and cooking habits.
Healthy self-esteem goes a long way in helping to make healthy choices. We all get discouraged when things don’t go our way. Help them learn how to deal with setbacks by showing them the importance of staying positive. Even if they make a bad choice, remind them they are unique and capable and you love them no matter what. I’ve told my kids if they cave on eating that doughnut or that cupcake at a party, just take note of how your body feels when you are done. Being aware of how food really impacts you could help them make a better choice the next time.
Lead by example
This is the most important thing you can do to get your children to live a healthy lifestyle. Our kids watch what we do. Even when we think they don’t. By modeling healthy habits in the home, you are helping transfer your choices into your child’s lifelong habits.
Good luck and remember, don’t give up. They’ll eventually get it, even if it takes awhile!