Help kids make healthy choices

Parenting isn’t a job for the faint of heart. You have to have nerves of steel and the patience of a saint, but in the end it’s all worth it to see your babies grow into smart and capable adults. A key to doing this is instilling healthy habits early on by setting a good example. Your kids want to be exactly like you and do the things you do, so your actions lead them to the behaviours they will carry on with them for the rest of their lives.

Here are some of the best things you can do to help your kids make healthy choices.

Kids make healthy choices – fill your refrigerator with healthy food

Your children are going to eat what is available, so if you fill the refrigerator with processed junk food and sugary drinks, that’s what they are going to turn to when they are hungry. Keeping the fridge stocked with healthy choices will teach them what foods should be consumed during their day-to-day lives.

They can still have kid favourites including chicken nuggets and ice cream, but these treats should only be provided during special occasions. If your children are picky eaters, get them involved in food preparations with you and talk with them about the ingredients. Teaching them about where their food comes from, how to cook it, and why it’s good for them to eat helps to demystify what they eat. Fear of the unknown is generally the driving force behind a child’s pickiness.

The best part of stocking your refrigerator with healthy foods is how budget-friendly it can be. Here are some tips on keeping your grocery bill down while shopping for whole foods:

  • Buy healthy, long-lasting staples including quinoa, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and steel-cut rolled oats in bulk.
  • When it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables, seasonal produce is more cost-efficient.
    Frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as healthy and as fresh and help reduce food waste.
  • Choose the proteins you buy based on what is on sale.
    Save some money by incorporating budget-friendly vegetarian meals into your weekly routine.
  • When buying snacks, look for things that have simple ingredients lists. String cheese, raisins, trail mix, applesauce, and air popped popcorn are all kids’ favourites.
Kids make healthy choices – get moving

Children today are more sedentary than ever. Not getting enough exercise correlates with serious health problems including obesity, musculoskeletal issues, poor circulation, and decreased brain function. Encourage your kids to get moving by taking them outside for a game of ball or tag. Start taking the whole family on a post-dinner walk where you can explore the neighbourhood and get some steps in together. Show them that daily exercise is enjoyable rather than a chore. Not only will you be promoting a healthy habit, but this is also a great way to facilitate family bonding.

Kids make healthy choices – read with them

Children whose parents read with them are less likely to have behavioural problems while also performing better at school. Furthermore, reading to children helps promote development in areas of the brain associated with vocabulary, conceptual understanding, and memory. Even as your children grow and are able to read on their own, it’s important to continue to lead by example and read independently yourself. Set aside time in your daily schedule where family members turn off the television and pick up a book instead.

As challenging as parenting can be, it’s very rewarding to see your children grow up healthy. To help instil good habits, lead by example. Stock your home with healthy foods and involve your children in meal preparations to teach them about nutrition. Encourage exercise by getting active with them so they associate physical activity with fun. Finally, read with your children to help encourage brain development.

Jenny Wise is a homeschooling mum to four children, one of whom is autistic. She and her husband decided to home-educate when their oldest was four years old.

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