In general, humans are creatures of habit. We do the same things over and over again, either because they’re easy, or because they’re all we know. We learn and develop habits by watching our friends, families, and peers/co-workers. When it comes to helping children develop healthy habits for life, you have to start early and you have to be consistent.
For the second part in our Childhood Obesity Awareness Month series, we’re focusing on how to set children (or anyone) up for health success by developing healthy habits early. Habits can be a lot of things, from brushing your teeth, to making your bed, what you have for breakfast, to when you go to bed. Today, we’re going to focus on two areas: healthy eating and healthy activity.
Getting kids to eat healthy foods can be a challenge. It takes time to develop an appreciation for vegetables and different types of proteins. By introducing your children to healthy food early in life, they’re more likely to continue to eat it later in life. Consider some of the following suggestions:
Cook together – children like hands-on activities. The more they’re involved in the kitchen, the more excited they’ll be to eat what they create. For healthy meal ideas that are kid-friendly, head over to our Recipes page!
Shop together – explore the produce aisle of the grocery store and let children pick out what they want from the different stands of fruit and vegetables. See who can find the most interesting looking food object and experiment with it together.
Eat together – study after study shows that eating meals as a family is not only good for physical development, but for cognitive and social development as well. Statistically, you’re child is less likely to be overweight, more likely to choose healthy foods and less likely to engage in disordered eating habits if family meal time is a priority.
The modern family is more busy than ever! Whether it’s work, school functions, sports or homework, finding time to for physical activity as a family probably doesn’t seem that important. But it is! The following are some of our go-to tips and methods for making healthy family activity a priority:
Go for walks – an after dinner walk is a great way to double up on the family-time (triple, if you cooked together). In many cultures, an after dinner walk is customary.
Plant, and tend, a garden – gardening is hard work, but it is also tremendously rewarding. Not only do children get to play in the dirt (your laundry will certain suffer), but they get to witness the literal fruits of their labor revealed before their eyes. They learn not only the hard work that goes into growing food, but they get to eat what they grow.
Limit screen/sedentary time – iPhones, tablets, TVs and game consoles are everywhere, and while many companies are producing educational software that helps children learn, it’s still a good idea to limit the time children spend glued to media. Set, and enforce, time limits for TV/cell phone/computer use for your children. Lead by example and follow them yourself!
Living a healthy, active life as a family doesn’t have to be hard. It will take some trial and error, and may require some improvisation, but we promise it’s worth it! Check out the other posts in our Childhood Nutrition series for more information, tips and tricks. Let us know how you encourage your family to live a healthy, active life by visiting us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.