You know the importance of living a healthy lifestyle—you take pride in eating whole foods and working out. If you’re a parent to kids of any age—the picky toddler that will only eat hot dogs, the tween that craves sugar, or the teen whose idea of a balanced meal is taking a mixing bowl and filling it with cereal—you know the struggle.
Let’s face it, being healthy isn’t at the top of most kids’ list of priorities. Maybe they associate healthy food with unpleasant tastes or textures. It’s time to modify these ideas and form healthier ones. The sooner kids embrace the power of healthy choices, the more likely they will carry these habits into adulthood.
While getting your kids excited about a healthy lifestyle is challenging, it’s not impossible. Here are five ways to get kids inspired about healthy habits.
1) Get them involved in Meal Planning
A great way to get kids excited about healthy foods is to get them involved in the meal planning process. Allow them to choose one of the family meals, and let them have fun with it!
Half of the fun is looking through recipes or having them come up with their creation using the Food Guide as a resource. Instruct them to include at least one food from each group to ensure the meal is balanced.
Encourage them to help prepare meals in the kitchen (obviously keeping age and safety in mind.) Not only does it create healthy habits and help you bond, but it also allows kids to take pride in the meal they helped make.
2) Emphasize the (Super!) Powers of Nutritious Food
Teaching our kids about superfoods is a great learning experience for them. But sometimes, knowing that something is good for you isn’t enough of an incentive to consume it regularly.
But most kids want to grow up to be big and strong, and if they understand that protein, good fats, and iron can help them get there, they’ll be more inclined to eat their broccoli and eat every piece of chicken on their plate.
More information on superfoods can be found here.
3) Find delicious alternatives (Shh, don’t tell!)
Sometimes, getting kids to eat healthily can be downright impossible. It’s like as soon as they see something green, it’s a deal-breaker!
This is when you need to get creative. Invest in a good blender and get ready to pull off the greatest magic trick of all time!
First, you need to find out what your kids will eat. Do they love an ooey-gooey pizza or crave the comfort of mac and cheese?
Check out this delicious mac and cheese recipe made with butternut squash!
A yummy pizza like this one is sure to please the kids. Cauliflower Pizza.
If you’re trying to get your kids away from eating so much sugar, trying using a black bean brownie recipe, like this delicious one that is packed full of protein and fiber, but your kids will have no idea! Check it out here.
4) Get Moving!
It’s not always easy to get kids moving, especially these days. Many sports are not running because of Covid, and the kids aren’t as active as they used to be.
But now, more than ever, it’s important to get exercise to produce those endorphins. But it’s not as easy as going for a walk; let’s face it, too many kids walking is boring!
A few things that you can do with the kids from the comfort of your home are dancing, playing tag, and yoga designed for kids.
5) Don’t Make (Junk) Food a Reward
We all love a reason to celebrate, especially during times like these. Food is often used as a prize to reward good behavior or reaching a goal. Ice cream to celebrate an A+ or a chocolate bar for completing all their chores.
To build healthy food habits, it’s important to reiterate that food is used to fuel our bodies. That’s not to say that you can never take your kid out for ice cream again; it’s just that using food as an incentive can cause kids to associate certain behaviors with certain foods.
A better alternative could be a new book for that A+ or having a movie night to celebrate your child finishing all their chores.
Forming healthy habits early and having a good relationship with food can set kids up for long-term success. Like any habit or lifestyle, consistency is key! Maybe not all of the tips will work for your kids, but even if you find one that you can do really well, stick to it, and your kids will be on the right track.