by April Laughlin and the TLS Team
What parent wouldn’t want their child to be happy, healthy and lively? I can’t think of any. Today, we are going to focus on how to help your children eat properly and maintain a healthy weight. There is nothing better you can do for your child than to get them on the right track to a healthy lifestyle! Added bonus—by making sure to keep your kids rosy-cheeked, you can also use this as a chance to start bettering your own eating habits.
Healthy Eating Habits
Healthy eating habits started early in children can remain with them for lifetime. Here are a few tips you can replace your child’s unhealthy eating habits:
- Teach your child to stop eating when they are full, not to clean their plate
- Put a variety of foods on their (and your) plates. Different colored fruits and veggies can be fun—and if you don’t get your children hooked on certain greens like broccoli early, there is little hope that they will eat it in their teen years
- Never allow them to skip breakfast. Skipping meals in general isn’t good, but as we all know, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” so make sure they get some nutritious, filling food to start their day off right
- Do not let you kids watch TV while eating—you will eat faster than usual when your attention is on something other than your meal or snack
- For smaller children, start with small portions and get them seconds if they are still hungry. For older kids, allow them to get their own portions and if they can’t finish all their food, it is a good lesson to know to get smaller portions next time.
- If your child does something good, DO NOT use food or candy as a reward. That is a terrible habit, instead, reward your child by delaying bedtime by half an hour, reading an extra bedtime story; or for older kids, reward with a small amount of money or say, points that will add up to a new toy
- Limit fast-food trips. These meals won’t be as nutritious as the meals you prepare at home.
If you enforce these tips, your children will learn the right way to eat and it will stick with them. Also, like I said earlier, you and any other adult in the household can benefit from these changes as well. These tips apply when feeding nutritious meals of course, but make them fun, colorful and interactive if possible. For example, have baby carrots as a snack and pretend to be Bugs Bunny or cut sandwiches into a heart shape and have apple slices as the eyebrows. Use the imagination of a child—the healthy way.
There are different measures to take depending on whether your child is at a normal weight and you simply want them to stay that way or if your child is overweight and you want them to slim down. For the kids who simply need to maintain their weight, just keep them active regularly—playing on a sports team is a great, bringing them with you as you walk the dog each day, (if you don’t have a dog, then have a family walk) or getting them involved in more physically active chores.
The preceding suggestions are good for kids who are overweight too, as they need to get in the habit or being more active. For those children, maybe have them attend a summer camp every year that focuses on lifestyle changes, weight management and healthy eating. Limiting the amount of sugar they consume can help tremendously—switching to water instead of soda and juices is a start. Make sure to stock your home with only nutritious snacks so that when your child gets older, they have no choice but to eat healthy!
Most importantly, try to get your kids involved in physical activity from an early age so it is a natural part of their lives. Also, getting them into healthy eating habits will help them for life. The sooner the better, parents! You will be doing your children a great favor. Let’s keep our kids happy and healthy!