By Paul Scicluna
It’s shocking that 1 out of every 3 children overweight or obese. So one of the most important steps you can take to ensure great health of your child is to create healthy food habits from the onset. Make smart food choices, and help your child develop a positive relationship with healthy food. Your children will learn from your example. So their health truly is in your hands.
Here are 7 food tips to improve kids health:
1. Keep healthy food at hand.
Generally, children will eat what's readily available. Keep fruit in a bowl on the kitchen table and not in the back of the fridge. Your child can only choose foods that you stock in the house, by limiting junk food you will teach your child how to choose healthier foods.
2. Don't label foods as "good" or "bad."
Instead, tie foods to the things your child cares about, such as sports, academics and hobbies to influence them to eat healthy. Let your children know that green vegetables are great for their muscles and gives them strength for their sports and academic performance, the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables not only add luster to skin and hair, but they protect them on many levels, and the carbs in whole grains will give them energy to play.
3. Praise healthy choices.
Creating healthy kids is as simple as giving them a proud smile and tell them how smart they are when they choose healthy foods. Emotional connections to foods start from when we introduce solids to our children, especially if they are told things like eat this and you’ll grow up to be strong like daddy. Or, be a good boy or girl and eat this or that. So provide kids with positive reinforcement!
4. Don't nag about unhealthy choices.
Your children will be surrounded by other parents’ children at school who have packed them an unhealthy, sometimes fat-laden lunch and snacks. You will hear about it from your children! If your children want these bad foods, create a healthier option.
Healthy snacks for kids could include, making your own muesli bars with healthy ingredients rather than processed foods and sugar. Make your own raw chocolate brownies – the other children will be envious! Make chunky roasted potato wedges baked in the oven with good extra virgin olive oil and spices instead of buying deep fried chips where you don’t know what oils or additives they’ve used. Or, if your child wants sweets or lollies, have fresh or dried fruit on hand or some home-made treats with raw honey or raw chocolate buds in them. This way they are still eating healthy but don’t feel left out.
5. Never use food as a reward.
Although you want your kids to eat healthy, by doing this it could create weight problems in later life. Instead, reward your children with something physical and fun like a trip to the park, fun-park or movies.
6. Sit down to family meals.
If this isn't a tradition in your home, it should be. Research shows that children who eat meals at the table with their parents have better nutrition and are less likely to get in serious trouble as teenagers. Make it a habit!
7. Prepare plates in the kitchen before serving.
Whilst having healthy meals for kids is critical, I believe that portion sizes is contributing to making children, let alone adults overweight and obese. When you’re in the kitchen, you can put healthy portions of each item on everyone's plate. Your children will learn to recognize correct portion sizes. Too often people go for seconds and even thirds just because the food is right there in front of them.
And here’s a bonus tip...
8. Get your kids to help you in the kitchen.
I have nieces and nephews, so I know how many kids generally hate vegetables. However, I can educate them to eat healthy by making it fun in the kitchen. This way, they’ll be more willing to learn. I have my standard recipe for a simple green smoothie which is packed full of nutritious spinach and fruits. So, just by telling them we’re going to make a Green Monster Smoothie, they get excited and eagerly put on their chef’s costumes to help – and learn.
By implementing some if not all of these tips you’ll be improving kids health so that they don’t become another statistic; it’ll set their future up to be a healthier one. After a couple of weeks, these new behaviors will become a healthier pattern in their lives that they will carry and use in their future.
For more healthy meal ideas that you and your kids will love click HERE.