Your children are the most important aspect of your life, and you want to be able to guide them down a path that keeps them fit and healthy for their entire life. Sadly, many American children are overweight and spend far too long on the couch in front of the TV playing video games. If you want a different lifestyle for your children, try to start instilling healthy habits as early as possible. Here are a few tips to encourage your children to form healthy habits.
Set an Example
Many parents don’t fully realize the importance of their own example. Since most adults work in an office environment, you might find it difficult to set aside time to meal plan and exercise. However, it’s especially important that you set this precedent early on in your child’s life. When your kids see you making an effort to prepare healthy meals and exercise, they’re more likely to emulate this behavior themselves now and later in life. Make it a top priority to establish healthy eating and exercise as a normal, non-negotiable part of life. Plus, when you’re taking good care of yourself, you’ll have more energy to be an active parent for your kids.
Revamp Your Snack Options
Instead of purchasing processed snacks like chips and sugary “fruit” gummies, start buying healthy snacks and place them in easily visible locations throughout the house. For example, carrot and celery sticks should be in an easy to reach spot in the fridge, while a bowl of fresh apples can be placed on the kitchen table or island. For grab and go snacks, pick up small packs of unsalted nuts like cashews or almonds.
Opt for Lean Meats
If you find yourself cooking meals like burgers or spaghetti each week, consider switching to leaner cuts of meat. Ground meat is high in fat and calories, and it’s easy to find other meats that are also kid-approved. Sit down with your kids and flip through a cookbook or Pinterest to find recipes centered around lean meat like chicken, turkey, and fish that the whole family will enjoy.
Keep Mealtime Enjoyable
It’s understandable that everyone might be stressed after a long day at work or school. However, try to keep family mealtime fun and memorable. Make every effort not to criticize while sitting down to the table for a meal together. Instead, use this time to ask your kids about their day, paying special attention to asking about the positives about their day. It’s a good practice to ask each person at the table to name the best thing about their day, as this encourages conversation and sets a pleasant tone.
Involve Your Kids in Meal Prep
One of the keys to staying healthy is to plan meals ahead of time and prepare them in advance. By preparing food in bulk on one day of the week, you’ll have plenty of healthy options ready to go on the days when you feel too tired to prepare a meal from scratch. When you’ve picked out recipes and you’re ready to cook, call the kids into the kitchen to help. Asking your kids to help prepare their own food lets them have a taste of responsibility, and they’ll feel comfortable working with food from a young age. As they get older, you can start giving them even more freedom and control in the kitchen. By the time they’ve reached young adulthood, your kids should be able to prepare healthy meals with ease so they’ll be able to handle their own meal prep in college.
Use Healthy Alternatives
Sometimes, it can be easy to go overboard with healthy eating. While eating salads and vegetable soups several times a week is great, it’s also important to allow your kids to eat everything in moderation. If they love the taste of mayo, don’t take away this condiment entirely. Hampton Creek offers low calorie, low cholesterol plant-based mayo, salad dressings, and cookie dough. Their foods are health conscious and sustainably produced, so you won’t have to feel any guilt whatsoever about offering these foods to your children. If you’re interested in trying out new recipes using the three flavors of eggless mayo, visit Hampton Creek’s Facebook page or website to learn more about their recipe options.