You’ve taken the right steps toward a healthy lifestyle by paying attention to your diet and exercising regularly. Why aren’t we demanding the same from our children? Sadly, the obesity rate of children in the US has tripled within the last 30 years. We can blame it on Xbox, McDonald’s, busy schedules. Instead of blaming, wouldn’t it be better to look out for our children’s best interest and get them started with sharing our healthy lifestyle today. Making sure your children enjoy a healthy lifestyle forever can be easy with some minor changes in routine.
Make sure your child partakes in physical activities throughout the day. If you have a toddler, this is easy, they love to run and jump and play all day long, in fact, the challenge for you may be to get them to relax and take a break. As they discover the internet and video games, these things change and they are very content in sitting in a restful state for hours on end. Get them up and moving – if you have teenagers, this may seem impossible but there are a plenty of ways to peak their interest and supply a lifetime love of physical activity. Plan time on the weekends or after school to go out on walks or hikes, nature can be very invigorating for both the young and old. Challenge your teenagers to a game of basketball or running races. Jump ropes are a great way to get your heart rate up and has been a favorite with kids forever, turn it into a family game and see who can go the longest without stopping.
Plan your meals in advance and make sure you try to make dinner a family hour. If you plan out the weeks meals beforehand this will eliminate the need to get a quick dinner and wind up with pizza or fast food. These may seem like easy alternatives but what your teaching is bad eating habits. These days, time is important and there never seems to be enough of it, try cooking ahead or two or three meals at a time. Not only will your meals be healthier but cheaper, fast food and take out can turn out to be big bucks in the long run.
Pack lunches and snacks ahead of time as well. School lunches have left much to be desired in the health department. Try to make it fun by cutting fruit with cookie cutters or making a happy face in their peanut butter sandwich using raisins. Even finicky eaters are tempted when their food looks like a party. Get creative and you’d be surprised what they will try. Take your kids food shopping with you and let them pick out the vegetables and/or fruit from the produce aisle; they will be more likely to try new things if they chose them.
Small changes can mean big improvements. Cut out soda from your child’s diet – water is so much better for them – it may be a major adjustment at first, but quicker than you think, they will not miss it! Instead of sugary fruit drinks, try the real thing, they loved apple juice when they were little sure they will again. Mix pureed vegetables into your pasta sauce, you’ll benefit from the additional nutrients and it adds so much more flavor than the jarred sauces which are usually high in sodium. Instead of ice-cream, make your own frozen treats from low-fat yogurt or fruit juices, delicious and economical. Instead of frying your chicken – bake it. These are just some ideas of ways to improve on dietary intakes, I’m sure you can come up with many more. Start slow and you will be amazed at how the kids don’t really notice as much as you thought they would.
Kids don’t want to eat their vegetables? Plant a garden with them. Let them choose the seeds and they will love to eat the produce that they have grown. It’s exciting for them and you are teaching them a valuable tool to use in the future. This will also help with physical activity since they will need to help out with watering and weeding and the funnest of all, picking!
Small changes can lead to big improvements! Teach your kids when they are young the importance of health and it will become a lifestyle not a chore. Your children will like to go to the gym and enjoy eating healthy when they grow up. Is there a better lesson to teach than how to live a long healthy life? You are the role model – you do it for you – why not for them?