An Article by Amanda Henderson
Parenting comes with an abundance of responsibilities, and one of the most important ones is teaching your kids to make healthy choices. Establishing these practices early on will make it easier for them to maintain; ideally, all the way through adulthood. One of the ways you can ensure the success of your efforts is by trading a lecture-like conversation for one that allows your kids to make choices on their own. Of course, you’ll need to step in when necessary to help explain the importance of right from wrong. While this may be difficult at first, your discipline will pay off for years to come. Read on for some of the key elements that contribute to a healthy lifestyle now, and for the long-term.
While making healthful food choices may seem like an obvious contributor, it’s worth a mention because of fact-based research that suggests that American toddlers are more apt to eat french fries, sugar, and salt in lieu of fruits and vegetables. While there’s room for a slice of birthday cake and a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day, it’s important that your kids understand the fundamentals of healthy eating, especially what contributes to a balanced meal and why it’s vital for optimal internal and external health. For a more interactive experience, take your kids with you to the grocery store and let them help you plan meals. By allowing them to participate and put in their two cents, they’ll be more enthused about what’s on their plate come mealtime.
There’s a stigma that to eat healthy foods, you have to spend a lot of money, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth. For example:
- Stock Your Pantry With Low-Cost-Yet-Healthy Staples: Think brown rice (never white), whole-grain pasta, canned beans (rinse to reduce sodium), quinoa, and couscous.
- Eat A Budget Breakfast: Steel cut oats or old-fashioned oats (sans sugar) are satisfying in price and taste. Jazz up a bowl with spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or a dash of agave syrup. Bonus points for letting kids dress their own bowl with the healthy toppings of their choice.
- Take Advantage Of Deals: Peruse those sale papers! This strategy is great for in-the-moment meal creation as well as purchasing freezable staples like meat and fish for future use. Exercise The U.S. is experiencing a weight crisis regardless of age — the country has the highest proportion of overweight and obese people — so it’s important that you are a role model for your children by practicing what you preach. There are several ways you can get moving as a family that won’t make your kids feel like you’re giving them military-like instruction.
- Take a post-dinner stroll together to digest, burn some extra calories, and bond as a family unit
- Engage in fun endurance challenges (think highest number of sit-ups or longest wall sit) during commercial breaks
- Turn household chores like gardening or cleaning the floor into a functional workout
- Walk and play with the dog
- Throw a dance party by turning on upbeat tunes and burning off energy — and calories
Have a weekly sports session — this could be anything from tossing the ball around, shooting hoops, or doing yoga in the backyardIf you find your kids are enjoying sports, sign them up for a local sports league, whether it’s for baseball, soccer, or flag football. Not only will playing a team sport keep your child in shape, it also can teach them about teamwork and raise self-esteem. Check out online reviews to find the best sporting equipment. Drug And Alcohol Awareness It’s never too early to start a conversation about the dangers of drug and alcohol consumption — even smoking and social drinking. While most schools have programs that cover this territory, the true education comes at home. There are many online activity-based tools geared toward the younger generation that can have a visual effect. Older kids may react better to first-hand stories of recovery survivors and/or their loved ones, for better or for worse. No matter what outside sources are used, nothing will replace the heart-to-heart conversations you have with your children. Make it a family affair so they don’t feel like they’re being attacked or treated like “babies.” When educating your kids on healthy habits, come armed with statistics — even a third party of a professional nature if possible. Having information that comes from a source other than yourself can be more effective in some cases. Whatever you do, don’t give up. It takes more than two months for a new habit to form.
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