Parents are responsible for educating their children on how to eat healthy. Helping children develop good habits while they are young will help them make good food choices throughout their lives. If your kids are like mine, they are bombarded with treats from school, activities, birthday parties, etc. That is why I feel it is important at home that they have real food options, so when they do get “treats” from outside sources, it is somewhat in moderation.
According to the non-partisan organization US Healthiest, “1 in 2 children are likely to develop type 2 diabetes; by 2025 chronic disease will affect half the population; and for the first time our children will have shorter life expectancies than ours.”
So… how do we empower the next generation to change this, and make good food choices?
1. We need to teach our children why it is important to eat healthy:
What we put in our bodies will affect the way we feel. We want our bodies to be strong and healthy. I love this article from 100 Days of Real Food on helping kids understand the importance of making good food choices:
It compares our bodies to race cars. If we use the right fuel we will be able to have the best performance. But what if we fueled our race car with thick gloppy mud? Making good food choices helps you to “fuel your body” so that it can feel and do your best.
2. We need to teach children how to eat right:
The majority of our food should come from plants like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes and whole grains are the healthiest. Everything else should be eaten in moderation (meat, dairy, sugar, processed and fast foods). We also need to make sure we are drinking plenty of water. Teach kids that is ok not to finish everything on your plate. We should listen to our bodies and eat only until you feel full. Take them to the grocery store and teach them how to read food labels to help them learn the difference between real and processed foods. Last of all, we need to show them by example, because kids eat what their parents eat!
3. Get kids excited about making good food choices:
Let your kids help prepare meals. Encourage them to help come up with new ways to adapt recipes by substituting unhealthy ingredients for healthy ingredients, for example, applesauce, bananas or honey, for sugar. Teach them that treats can still be healthy and yummy at the same time. Talk to them about what recipes they like and get their feedback on how they think it could be better. Grow a garden or have a cooking competition. Be creative on how you present food, like making a silly face on a whole wheat pancake or out of fruits and vegetables.