Raising healthy kids sounds very simple: one hour of physical activity a day and good nutrition protects kids from diabetes, obesity, and other chronic diseases later in life.
But it’s not that easy for health-conscious parents these days. They have to compete against different unhealthy temptations. As parents, what can we do for raising healthy kids?
There are three major rules for healthy eating:
- Keep it simple
- Stay involved
- Make it a family affair
Here are eight simple tips to make a good nutrition and physical activity a part of the family’s everyday life.
Motivate Your Kids
Every parent has own way to support kids’ physical activity. The most important is that your kids know how much you support them and value their active pursuits.
- Sign up your kids for sports
- Help them get to practice
- Cheer for them at games
- Go on active family outings
Play Active Games
Sometimes kids just need a little push in the right direction to get them started having fun outdoors.
Make a list of ideas for active things that are favorite or you would like to do together. Here are some ideas for activities you can do with your child:
- Skipping ropes
- Play catch or kick a soccer ball
- Bounce a balloon in the air
- Play hopscotch
- Play tickle monster
- Blow bubbles so your child can chase them
- Go for walks together
Replace Screen Time with Active Time
Web surfing and TV eat up many hours your kids could spend being active.
- Take the computer and TV out of your kid’s room
- Pay attention to how much time your kids spend in front of a screen.
- Set a daily, weekly or monthly TV time limit and stick with it. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that kids should spend no more than 2 hours of TV time.(1)
You know that healthy meals don’t magically appear on your table. Make a plan so you don’t have to be chained to your kitchen.
- You can “health up” your family meal with frozen fruits and vegetables
- Buy foods that are convenient and healthy
- Prepare meals that take no more than 30 minutes on weeknights
- Prepare some meals during the weekend that you can freeze and eat later.
Make Nutrition Fun
Involve your kids in planning and making healthy meals. They are more likely to eat something that they help prepare.
- Go apple or berry picking and make a treat with what you bring home
- Use cookie cutters and make interesting shapes with food
- Plant a garden and prepare meals with what you harvest
- Use vegetables and fruits to make meals interesting and colorful
Slowly Replace Unhealthy Foods
Start with a few subtle replacements and build from there. You don’t have to turn everything upside down.
- Bring home less-sugary options instead of high-sugar cereals
- Instead of butter start to cook with olive oil
- Use brown rice instead of white rice
- Instead of soda serve water or small amounts of juice
- Instead of cheese add pureed vegetables to pasta sauce.
Keep Nutrition Low-cost
A healthy meal doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some affordable items that don’t take hours to prepare:
- Seasonal and local fruits and vegetables tend to be less expensive
- Beans and lentils
- Canned salmon
- Frozen fruits and vegetables
Parents are Role Model
Always keep in mind that parents play a key role in their children’s behaviors and choices.
As a parent, you can:
- Keep the attitude and conversation positive
- Make healthy habits a priority
- Get your kids involved.
Most kids follow their parents’ lead. At first, they might not react well but don’t give up. Talk about the positive benefits of physical activity and nutritious food.