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GETTING YOUR CHILD TO EAT HEALTHY AND BE FIT BEGINS WITH YOUR OWN BEHAVIOR: A MOTHERâ€™S PERSPECTIVE
As mothers, we all worry about our children's health and do the best we can to make sure they are healthy and fit. We talk to them about the importance of good nutrition and physical activity. However, one thing we often forget is that children learn best by example. We need to remember, as parents, that our children watch everything we do and mirror our actions. If we want to really work to raise healthy and physically fit children, we need to make sure we are doing the same.
Forget the Fast and Processed Foods
With busy schedules, many parents find that there is not always time to cook a balanced meal for their children. Between running around with practices, games and other after-school activities, many parents find it is much easier to grab dinner at the local fast food restaurant or microwave a processed meal. While this may be convenient, it is sending the wrong message to our children. It is just as easy to prepare nutritious meals ahead of time to have ready when your schedule is busy. If a full meal is not possible, make sure you have healthy snacks available to keep everyone full until you can make a meal. Things like carrot sticks, fruit and whole grain bread with peanut butter are much better than fries and a burger.
Get the Kids in the Kitchen
A recent study by the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta showed that kids are much more likely to make healthier food options when they are involved in the cooking process. So, instead of trying to do all the cooking yourself, invite the kids to help cook and plan. If you have a busy schedule and need to make meals up in advance, set aside time on the weekend to cook as a family and make large meals to freeze for the week.
Add More Fruits and Veggies
As I said above, things like carrot sticks and fresh fruit make great snacks in addition to meals. Adding more fresh fruit and vegetables to your child's diet, as well as your own, is essential to meet the daily recommended amount. When you go grocery shopping, take the kids with you and let them pick out a new fruit or vegetables they want to try. Come home and create ready to eat fruit and veggie snacks. Cut up that broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and celery and place them in containers so you and the kids can grab them on the go. Have a bowl in the kitchen filled with fresh fruit that is easily accessible. This way, you and the kids can grab a healthy snack or even a breakfast on those mornings you are running late.
Get Active and Include the Kids
In addition to diet changes, getting yourself and the kids active is just as important. Now, as a mother of four kids, I know how easy it is to just want to sit and relax at the end of the day. Getting out and exercising is sometimes the last thing on my mind. However, I know that it is important for me and my children. Now, I am not saying that you need to get out and join a sports team together. A simple walk around the block as a family is enough to get you moving and also allows for family time.
In a time where the obesity rates among children are climbing, it is important as mothers that we do all we can to show our kids how important eating healthy and exercise is. In order to best do that, we must begin with ourselves and work to show our kids that it is important.
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