You started on the road to better health, huh? You’re feeling good, you’re looking good. But, now you want to learn ways to get your kids on board to a healthier lifestyle? The changes that you implement into their life now will carry over into adulthood and that is always a plus!
If you’re like most people, you want to live a healthier life and you want your children to have optimal health to have the ability to learn and develop at their peak, but let’s face it, we’re all really busy being parents and healthy eating, especially for children, can be a bit confusing, and not to mention frustrating at times.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming to start implementing healthier habits for your family right away.
It is important to understand that some changes do not happen overnight, even though we really want them to, but on the other hand, in some cases they can. Just don’t put pressure on yourself or your little ones and the process will be a much smoother one.
So where is the best place to begin?
Because we are all unique and have so many different backgrounds and health histories there are many areas that can be addressed. I’ve picked the top areas most parents struggle with below to set as a foundation:
Please understand that the information provided is not a substitute for medical care or advice and you need to use your own judgment for implementing what is right for you and your family. Check with your doctor before making any major dietary changes you aren’t sure is right for your child.
1. Reduce your family’s toxic exposure
It all starts in the womb. Many of the chemicals that we are exposed to in the womb can stay with us for a lifetime.
A study was conducted in 2004 and it consisted of collecting umbilical cord blood samples from 10 newborns. Do you want to know what they found? In those umbilical cord blood samples was the presence of 287 industrial chemicals! And many of them had been banned from use for like over 30 years! All of these chemicals came from either ingesting, inhaling, or direct contact with the skin.
And according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), our homes rank among the top five environmental risks to our health. Our homes contain a host of environmental toxins, such as household chemicals, industrial pollutants, even our mattresses and clothing contain toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, toluene, and fire retardant chemicals. Other toxins include food additives, pesticides, irradiated foods, and genetically modified organisms (also known as GMOs).
If you can cut down on toxins you and your family are exposed to in your own home you will be way ahead of the game. Read THIS POST to get started.
2. Keep them busy
Whether it’s the chess club, the newspaper club, field hockey, dance, or gymnastics, they need to get involved in something. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a sport because let’s face it, some kids won’t be athletically inclined. Getting them involved with something as simple as yoga OR challenging them to a kid-friendly fast can get them going!
The point is to get their mind occupied and keep them off the couch and not in front of a tablet, smartphone, laptop, or any smart device.
3. Make them healthier alternatives
Does your kid LOVE chicken nuggets and french fries? Or how about mac n cheese, spaghetti, or peanut butter and jelly?
Ding, ding, ding! Make them healthier alternatives!
You may have to try a few recipes and/or ingredients out before finding one that works. For example, my kids love eating dishes consisting of pasta noodles…think spaghetti and mac & cheese. I started out swapping the enriched noodles made with semolina wheat with whole wheat noodles. When that didn’t work out so well, I tried noodles made with brown rice or chickpeas and before we knew it that became the regular.
4. Tell them the truth
Kids are smart. And you got to learn to give them the benefit of the doubt.
I have flat out told my kids on quite a few occasions that “we’re using X food because it’s healthier”. For the most part they know they don’t have a choice because they have to eat whatever gets put in front of them anyway.
But, it gets them excited to try new things sometimes. For example, when we went from store brand pancake mix to making pancakes from scratch, then tried an organic whole wheat pancake mix, then tried a gluten free pancake mix – every time we made the switch they would become little food critics and it made the whole experience fun. And they liked all of the end products! Now my son makes us pancakes from scratch!
5. Be a role model
You need to practice what you preach. Mind you our house is not 100% all health all the time. I mean geez, where’s the fun in that? But, your kids do need to see you doing healthy things, whether it’s buying healthier groceries, eating fruit, making a smoothie, or exercising. I notice the more I do these things it tends to peak their interest and sometimes they may even ask for some or ask to join in.
I know when me or my husband exercise my youngest son will try to imitate us. Also, when the TV doesn’t get turned on I may sit there reading one of my textbooks. My kids will see that and go grab a book, too.
6. Just say no
Like I said, our house is not 100% all health all the time, however, I still do set my limits on having certain foods in the house. For instance, my two sons love ice cream, but I don’t buy it every time I go to the store, even if they do beg for it.
You have to remember that YOU are the parent.