There’s no way around it: your kids are either going to fall prey to those juicy junk food commercials by watching TV, or they’re going to get sucked into the junk food craze by their peers at school. Even so, this doesn’t mean that you can’t raise your little loved ones to prefer healthy food options over their unhealthy counterparts – after all, you are responsible for your child’s health, so it’s your duty to make a positive influence on their developing hearts and minds.
To eat healthy with your children on a regular basis, to teach them how to cook, and to make healthy food options readily available in your household are some of the best ways to make health and fitness fun for the entire family, and educate your children on the importance of wholesome nutrition. Here’s what you can do.
It’s up to you to set an example
First and foremost, your children are looking at you to be the model of good behaviour, to lead by example and to be their hero. Now, this can go either way. If you fall prey to common vices, such as junk food, smoking, or worse, chances are that your children will follow in your footsteps – and there will be nothing you can do about it.
On the other hand, if you decide to lead a healthy lifestyle by eating wholesome foods, you stand a greater chance of preventing your children from falling prey to these bad habits. However, it’s not just about eating healthy, it’s also about making healthy foods appealing to your younglings! Remember, junk food tastes awesome, so the food you make needs to be even better.
Teach your kids to make wholesome meals
Including your kids into the meal-prep process is one of the best ways to instil healthy and positive habits into their hearts and minds, all the while inspiring them to fall in love with wholesome foods the likes of fruits and veggies, fish and dairy products, eggs, and lean meats. Even when you’re making sweets you can cut back on sugar and use natural sweeteners to make the food taste amazing, so don’t lose hope.
Educate your children on all of the wonderful healthy ingredients they can use to make their breakfast infinitely more interesting than that sugary cereal that’s been sitting in the box for God knows how long. Let your children cook and prepare meals with you, and they will fall in love with the concept of healthy eating early on.
Make sure healthy food is always available
Naturally, you can’t expect your little loved ones to resist the temptation of junk food if there is no healthy food available when they’re hungry. That's why you should always have something healthy and delicious in your fridge, no matter how hard that task can be. Sure, they should know how to make themselves a yummy sandwich or a salad if you’re too busy, but when hunger strikes, you want to make sure they have some healthy food options ready and waiting to be heated up and served at a moment’s notice by choosing to have some of your weekly meals delivered to your doorstep by a meal-prep service. It is perfectly normal if you do not have enough time to prepare it yourself, and there are actually services that offer healthy meals. Another option is to choose to prepare the majority of your meals over the weekend. Simply devote a lazy Sunday afternoon to prep plenty of wholesome meals with your kids for the upcoming week, and they should have no problem staying on the right side of nutrition. In this case, their participation in food preparation is very important, because that way they are learning a lot about wholesome foods and nutrition.
Don’t eliminate foods unless you have a reason
Restrictive diets are not good for adults, so imagine what they could do to your developing child. Your children need all of the macro and micronutrients from various plant-based and animal sources in order to enjoy a well-rounded eating routine. Sure, you can slowly weed out the unhealthy stuff from their diet, such as French fries, but think twice before eliminating any food group completely. When completely deprived, your kids will be enticed to have some on the side, and keep it from you – this is not a good way to build positive values in your children’s’ hearts and minds.
Teach them about healthy intuitive eating
And lastly, there is no need to count your child’s calories or to calculate their daily macronutrient intake, nor is there a need to teach them these skills, either. What you should do instead is to teach your kids about intuitive eating and portion control. This will teach them to respect their food, to control their cravings, to eat slowly and in a controlled manner, ultimately helping them become thriving, healthy adults.
Teaching children the art and science of healthy eating is not an easy task, especially nowadays as they are constantly bombarded by junk food ads, both online and offline. Nevertheless, with these tips in mind, you will have no problem instilling healthy eating habits in your kids while paving the road to healthy adulthood.
Claire Hastings is a wanderer and Australia based writer. She writes as long as she can remember, and she is very passionate about sustainability and healthy lifestyle.