On a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being the healthiest, how would you rate how healthy you are? Do you eat your veggies? Are you able to squeeze in exercise most days of the week? If you do, awesome! If not, that’s alright. But, did you know your kids are watching and learning from you.
Whether you want to believe it or not, what you do and how healthy you are will affect your children in multiple ways. Monkey see- monkey do, or in this case child see- child do. I know when I was younger my dad would always say “do as I say, not as I do”. Luckily, I followed his advice, for the most part, I may not have always listened. But, the point is that most children copy their parents instead of listen to them. So, our bad habits can sometimes become their bad habits.
And, I don’t know about you, but I want my children to grow up to be healthy and happy adults. So, to help you out, and myself, I’ve come up with a list of ways to help our children grow up healthy. Hopefully, they will keep these things in mind when they’re adults and enjoy the benefits of a few key healthy habits!
1. Have them watch or help you cook. I know, this is easier said than done, especially with kids under 5. But, if we start them cooking when they’re little, then they may just think it’s a part of life. Let’s try to end the unhealthy habits of eating out before they begin, especially fast food.
2. Include fruits and/or vegetables at every meal, and snack! I personally aim for 3 fruits and/or veggies at every meal for myself and children, but you can choose any number. The easiest way to do this is to base your meals around produce.
3. Teach them where food comes from. Seriously, do this. Do you know where your food comes from? Do you know how it’s made? Once you know, you may think of it differently, and they will, too. Be the parent and decide how you should go about sharing this information. You may be surprised how your kids react; they may even want to start a small garden.
4. Bake from scratch with your kids. Even two year olds can help with this. I don’t know how many people keep baking ingredients in their homes these days, since junk food is more than readily available. But, my cupboard is stocked with baking ingredients. Letting kids help you bake, and using healthy ingredients, can give kids confidence that they can make something delicious and that they don’t need to buy food with ingredients that they can’t pronounce.
5. Don’t buy junk. This goes back to baking from scratch, except ‘junk’ includes almost any processed food that has very few to no nutrients and is usually high in calories. This also includes juice and highly processed crackers. Think home made smoothies and nuts/seeds instead!
6. Set a budget and follow through. Share this with your children if they are old enough- let them know what it means (ex. we’re getting apples instead of cookies because apples keep us full and both don’t fit in our budget). Make a game out of it; how many meals can you come up with the food we already have at home? Meal plan and let them help choose some meals or snacks. It’ll make them feel important and teach them a lesson on planning things out.
7. Turn off the TV. Go outside. Let them feel the grass or sand between their toes. Talk to them and find out what’s going on inside their beautiful brains. Look at them, instead of a screen. It is so important to do this. It helps them feel valued and loved. How could you not want that?
8. Let them watch you work out, or better yet, let them work out with you if they are able to. My 1 year old is better at doing squats than I am! Even if they can’t do some of the things that you can, like push ups; they’ll still have a blast trying.
9. Have fun. Race them, or race with them. For this past week my husband and I have been taking our girls to the “Dream Playground” everyday. The only way we can get our older daughter to leave is by me giving her a piggy back ride and my husband carrying our 1 year old and then we race to the car. It’s actually quite fun and the girls love it!
10. Be the example. This may be the most important thing you can do. Your kids look up to you. They may even want to be just like you. So, you can’t be eating horribly and lounging out on the couch in your free time if you don’t want them to. You have to have a healthy lifestyle to help your children develop one. That may mean you have to give up your hiding spots for junk food and your stockpile of ice cream and start eating what you are feeding your children.
This may sound like a lot of work, but believe me, it’s worth it. I remember when I moved out of my mom’s house and into my first apartment with my husband; the only food I knew how to make was sandwiches and food that came in a box. If I remember correctly, I didn’t eat many vegetables back then either, maybe corn and potatoes.
When my girls move out on their own I want them to be able to cook for themselves and have an active and healthy lifestyle. And, I know I’m not alone with that hope for my children. So, my challenge for you is to choose something on this list and follow through with it! For your children and yourself.
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