Summer is here and that means tons of time spent on the go, traveling, and so much more. While Summer is generally a lot of fun, it is also the worst time for eating healthy. Kids are especially susceptible to these unhealthy practices because they don’t want to stop their fun in order to eat healthier.
I know that I can be guilty of this, especially when we take our yearly trip to Wildwood. After all, who wants to eat healthy when there are so many tasty treats available to you. But as a parent, I have to set an example for my kids, even if I may not like it. So I am here to share 5 tips for teaching your kids about better nutrition. Many of these tips are simple, and don’t require a lot of work to implement them.
5 TIPS FOR TEACHING YOUR KIDS ABOUT BETTER NUTRITION:
Packaged and fast foods are on every shelf in the supermarket and on almost every corner, and much of the advertising of these foods are geared toward young people. Toy giveaways, smiling, colorful characters, and memorable TV advertising endear these foods and fast food companies to children from a very young age, and the results have been devastating.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity numbers have doubled in the past three decades. If you are facing this dilemma with your children, there are several ways you can teach them about better nutrition that are both fun and engaging.
1. Involve Them in the Kitchen: If you or your spouse are the only ones cooking and your kids reject what you have made, then it is time to involve them in food prep on a daily basis. Have them handle the grocery list when you shop, allow them to pick out a few fruits and vegetables to include in weekly meals, and then have them create different recipes a few nights a week. Small kids can tear up lettuce for a salad, and you can teach your older kids about healthy oils and which types of fats are included in the foods you eat as you cook.
Involving your older kids in daily meal prep can also teach them nutritional lessons for the future. For example, your high school kids will be going off on their own in a few years and may retain valuable lessons about eating right. This will help them make better nutritional choices in college and beyond, even when you are not there to remind them.
2. Visit an Organic or Farmer’s Market: If you want to improve your children’s eating habits, then take them to the source of where their food comes from. Visit a local farmer’s market that sells locally-sourced fruits, veggies, cheeses, and other foods like honey and jam. Let them choose one or two ingredients from the market to include in an upcoming meal. This is especially helpful for small children, as they will begin to make the connection between how food is grown and how it reaches their plates.
3. Make Comparisons Visible: Telling your kids how much sugar their favorite drinks contain is likely to go unheard. To get the message through, do a simple experiment with them: first, help them look up how much sugar an average can or bottle of soda contains. Then, pour out the contents into a glass and put an empty glass beside it and have your kids dole out however many teaspoons of sugar the drink contains into the empty glass from a bag of sugar. The visual of how much actual sugar is in twelve or sixteen ounces of soda is likely to shock them.
4. Lead By Example: One of the most effective ways to teach your kids about eating right is to do so yourself. Small children, in particular, will be affected by the food choices you make, and if you are constantly pulling into the fast food drive-thru line, they will accept this as the norm and refuse healthy foods when you try to offer them.
While an occasional trip to your local burger restaurant is not likely to do much harm, there are many other ways you can be the nutritional compass for your kids on a daily basis. For example, when snack time comes, eat an apple, celery sticks with cashew butter, or cookies made from Hamptoncreek Foods cookie dough, which does not contain eggs and has only eight grams of sugar per cookie. Then offer these healthy choices to your child as well. If they refuse the choices at first, be patient: they will eventually discover a healthy snack they enjoy.
5. Make It Fun, Not a Fight: Teaching your children about nutrition does not have to be something that you plan or organize. You can offer them lessons while you shop, cook, and eat. However, it is important that you make the lessons fun instead of something your kids will choose to battle you over. This might be more common for pre-teens and teenagers, who often see lessons as lectures, but do your best to keep it light. The more you make good nutrition a fight, the more likely your kids may be to fight right back.
The earlier your children learn about good nutrition and what their bodies need to grow, the less likely the chances are that they will become obese or be at risk for developing type II diabetes. When your children learn about proper nutrition at home, they are much more likely to practice it for life.
So there you have it, some easy tips that will teach your kids about better nutrition. Be sure to read more about Hamptoncreek Foods and their products.