By encouraging healthy eating and exercise habits now, you can make a huge impact on your children’s relationship with food and fitness for years to come. You have the ability to provide your little ones with the best opportunities to grow into healthy adults. Providing your family with healthy and nutritious foods, and opportunities for exercise, will help boost their immune systems, provide energy, sharpen their minds and focus, and improve overall happiness. Here are a few ways to raise healthy, happy, and active children!
Set a Good Example
Monkey see, monkey do. If your child sees you constantly grabbing for the bag of potato chips instead of a bowl of fruit, they will follow suit. If you spend the weekends plopped in front of the television or glued to your electronic devices, your child will do the same.
Set a good example for your children and guide them towards a healthy and fit lifestyle. It’s our job, as parents, to teach our children about living a healthy and fit lifestyle. Not lead them down a path filled with chicken nuggets and hours of video games.
Technology has taken over and it makes raising healthy and fit children more difficult. The days of running around outside and playing with sticks seem like centuries ago – but there are things you can do to encourage healthy play!
It’s important for our children to learn and experience technology, but in order to raise happy and fit children we can’t let the technology completely take over. Limit your child’s television and tech time. Try for 1-2 hours total of television in the morning and/or evening. Encourage your children to run around, make up games, and use their creativity.
Make Family Time More Active
Movie nights are wonderful and playing board games is always a family favorite; but whenever possible, turn family time into an opportunity to be active.
Here are some activities to try!
- Go mini-golfing
- Go for a bike ride
- Play tennis
- Walk around a museum
- Play capture the flag
- Visit a tourist attraction in your city and go sightseeing
- Visit the local animal shelter and pet animals
- Walk around a farmer’s market and pick out delicious produce
- Play an interactive video game – like Wii Sports or Kinect
- Have a water fight – water balloons and all!
- Go ice-skating
- Dance around to your child’s favorite music
- Go on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood
- Practice yoga
- Go swimming
- Go to the zoo
- Plant a family garden
- Make giant sidewalk chalk art
- Go bowling
- Clean together and gather old toys and clothes to take to Goodwill or give to charity
Nourish Their Bodies
We all know that are our little ones aren’t doing the grocery shopping. Even though we don’t always believe it, we do have a lot of control of what our children are eating. So make sure you are making healthy meal options and snacks for your child whenever possible.
Start by making more meals at home and less eating out. Even better, have your child cook WITH you to learn more about food preparation and making healthy choices. Also try having a family meal schedule. If meals are served around the same time every day, and the child knows everyone will be eating together, it provides comfort and increases appetite around those times.
Note: The most important meal of the day is breakfast – do not let your child skip this meal!
Cut Down on the Sugar and Processed Foods
Let’s not even talk about soda here because that is just a BIG no-no! But what about serving your child other sugary “juices” or sports drinks? Introduce your child to infused water or smoothies when they are looking for something fruity. Milk is another great option for growing children – calcium is essential! Avoid caffeinated beverages and other drinks that contain little, to zero, real fruit juice.
Note: A great substitute for soda is using seltzer water instead of regular water when infusing with fruit and veggies! Also try making your own popsicles using 100% fruit juice or pureeing Greek yogurt with fruit and using a Popsicle mold.
But remember, sugar is not just hiding in beverages. A lot of the foods we may be feeding our children are packed with sugar and can negatively affect their mood, bodily functions, and overall health.
Try to cut down on processed foods, such as white bread and sugary cereals, which cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate and can leave your child feeling tired and with a lack of energy.
Remove processed and fried foods from their diet as much as possible! Many studies have been conducted on the effects of these foods and many have found that children who consume caffeine, fast food, and other processed foods are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, inability to focus, and other health issues.
Help your little ones fall in love with healthy eating and exercise – don’t make them feel forced into it.
If your child is constantly fighting you to eat their green beans, try broccoli, carrots, or another vegetable that they do enjoy. Try introducing new foods one at a time so they don’t feel overwhelmed. Educating your child at a young age is very important. Show them that eating healthy can be delicious and there are a lot of options!
Now onto fitness! If your youngster doesn’t like playing soccer, don’t force them into playing on the local soccer team. Allow them to explore other forms of exercise – like playing tennis, going on bike rides, swimming, or trying a different team sport.
The Goal – Happy, Healthy, and Active Children
As our children develop, they require the same healthy foods and activity levels as adults, but they also require even more vitamins and minerals to support their growing minds and bodies.
This means feeding them plenty of whole grains, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, calcium, healthy proteins, practicing portion control, and encouraging at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day.Schedule a Tour