Did you know that the first Monday in October is Child Health Day? This amazingly important topic has prompted me to write this blog with the hope of increasing awareness of healthy eating habits and exercise for children. The state of health for children in our culture simply needs to be at the forefront of parents’ minds. I do believe that we are making progress, but there is still much work to be done.
Now, if your children are anything like mine, you can sometimes feel as though you’re fighting an uphill battle when trying to get your wee ones to eat vegetables and avoid sugars. My husband and I have even taken to bribery, at times, in order to get the greens in their bodies. “You can stay out five minutes later if you eat all your spinach.” But what if we could find a way to shape their behavior, early on, and build a fond love for healthy options? Here are just a few ideas that have helped our family. Hopefully, they’ll get your creativity flowing, and you’ll come up with some great ones of your own!
When it comes to eating healthier, here are three things we incorporate into our daily lives:
1. Get kids cooking – They’ll be more excited to eat their own creations.
2. Be a role model – Children learn lifelong lessons from us, so we choose to eat foods that are made with whole grains (sprouted when possible), limit refined sugars, and we also strive for lean meats…although bacon on Sunday mornings is a treat we love to relish in!
3. Make a schedule and stick to it – Take away the free feeding; a schedule helps them not to over-eat (or under-eat).
Exercise, at least for our family, seems to be the easier of the two to tackle. But here’s how we’ve adapted over the years:
4. Limit screen time – Not only does it minimize the commercials for unhealthy foods, but they are forced to find better, more active, ways to fill their time.
5. Make exercise fun – Our son is not, by nature, someone who loves to exercise, so we have him bring friends along and do things such as hiking, rock climbing or paddle boarding in an effort to encourage activities that are fun but still offer exercise.
6. Praise – This is a big one for us! I believe that our children deeply long for praise, as I think most children do. So we make a point to give lots of praise when it comes to anything physical that they do. It allows them to feel a sense of pride in their own achievements.
These are simple ideas, but they really can make a big difference if they become a normal, everyday part of their lives. And remember, if all else fails, resorting to bribery is 100% acceptable when it comes to the overall health of your children!