Living a healthy lifestyle is much easier when the whole family is on board. But kids don’t always get why they need to eat healthy foods or exercise regularly. They’re happy to eat junk food and sit on the couch all day. Here are some tips on how to teach your kids to embrace healthy eating.
When it comes to teaching kids good eating habits, the earlier the better. Young kids are more open to new lifestyle habits because they’re not as committed to their couch potato lifestyles as older kids. However, it’s never too late to start.
Set a good example
It’ not enough to tell your kids that a healthy lifestyle is important to you and your family. They need to see you eating right and being physically active. You don’t have to be perfect but as long as you’re making an effort they’ll get the message.
Make grocery shopping & meal prep a family affair
Teaching your kids how to buy healthy foods and prepare healthy meals is one of the best gifts you can give them. Shopping with kids can be a bit challenging at first but it gets easier with time.
As you pick items from the shelves, talk to your kids about their benefits and the effects they can have on their bodies. Encourage them to read the labels and pay close attention to the ingredients, nutritional information and serving sizes.
Remember to include them in the decision-making process but this doesn’t mean you should let them pick as many chips, cookies and sugary drinks as they want. This is also a great opportunity to teach them moderation or point them to healthier snacks.
When it’s time to prepare meals, bring everyone into the kitchen and let them help you. Teach them how to prepare healthy meals. Make the experience of cooking and eating healthy food fun and enjoyable.
Teach your kids to eat for a purpose
Healthy eating might be too abstract for your kids to grasp, especially if they are young. You can get around this by asking what activities they enjoy most and then teaching them how to eat foods that will make them faster, stronger, smarter and generally better at those activities. For instance, if kids love sports, explain how a sedentary lifestyle hurts their ability to participate in and enjoy sports.
Set realistic goals
It’ll take some time for your kids to get used to their new, healthier lifestyle. So set realistic goals, and make small, gradual changes rather than one big change.
Embrace moderation instead of banning all junk food. Let the kids enjoy a snack now and again and then slowly replace those snacks with healthier versions. This way your kids will gradually warm up to healthy foods.
The key to getting your kids to embrace healthy living is to make it fun. Take them grocery shopping, teach them how to prep meals, and let them have a favorite snack every now and then, in moderation. Most of all, don’t give up too soon. Stick with it because it can take twenty to thirty “tries” before a child can know whether they really like/dislike a food. If they still don’t care for it after tasting it twenty or thirty times, chances are they’ll never like it. What do you do? Keep trying and let the taste-test adventure continue!