For children, it is not only important to ensure they are meeting their nutrient requirements, but it is also essential to expose them to a variety of healthy foods. Research shows that children who are exposed to a variety of nutritious meal and snacks options at a young age are more likely to continue choosing to eat healthier as adults.
Poor nutrition can lead to obesity and can cause serious health problems. First and foremost, it is easier to maintain a healthy weight as opposed to losing weight. If your child maintains healthy eating habits and a healthy weight at a young age, they are more than likely going to continue making health conscious choices and remain at a healthy weight as an adult. With obesity comes the likelihood of your child experiencing some type of health issue. Health issues can range and can include poor self-esteem, sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease and bone and joint problems. These health issues may also continue throughout their lives and have long-term effects into adulthood.
Encouraging healthy eating habits is essential for your child’s health and longevity. Doing so at an early age can help set your children on a path of making health conscious choices throughout their entire life.
Here are a few ways families can begin encouraging these habits:
- Stay Active: Encourage your children and the entire family to stay physically active. During the warmer weather months, enjoy the outdoors together as a family. Activities could include going for a walk, riding bikes, swimming or playing a game all together. In the colder months when outdoor play and activities aren’t as easy, spend some time taking part in activities that will keep them moving such anything involving music and motion or even yoga! While your family is being active, show them why it’s important to fuel their bodies with good foods and how it helps them stay active.
- Family Dinners at Home: Instead of eating out at a restaurant or ordering take out, make an honest effort to cook more meals at home and enjoy them as a family. Not only is cooking at home a definite way to ensure your family is eating healthy ingredients, but you also are able to see how much of what your child is eating. By making sure they are eating hearty meal, your child is less likely to snack throughout the day.
- Plan Ahead: Trying to come up with meals and snacks to serve throughout the week can be difficult, especially when trying to juggle a million other things. Instead of figuring out what to prepare daily, plan ahead! Pick a day and plan out what meals you want to prepare for the week, so that you can compile a grocery list and have everything you need for the week. Preparing snacks ahead of time is another great way to ensure that if your family does need to munch on something in between meals, there are healthier options available for them.
- Be a Role Model: One of the easiest ways to encourage a healthy lifestyle is to make healthy choices yourself. This doesn’t mean never eating something that is considered unhealthy. By making an effort to eat healthy for the most part and by getting and staying active, you are setting an example for your child and it will be something they will recognize as important.
How does your family stick with maintaining healthy eating habits?