Get Them Moving! Provide them with plenty of opportunities to move. Kids will sit and watch TV or play video games all day if you let them. The key is not to let them. There's nothing wrong with some down time. Curled up with a good book, or even a little TV or video game time. However, it shouldn't take up the most part of the day and if it didn't happy daily it would be ok! Send them outside, but give them buckets to catch grasshoppers or crickets with. Supply them with a butterfly net, chalk, a trampoline, or other tools to getting off the couch. Go on family walks or bike rides. Play tag with them. Encourage free play and give them time with you!
Set dietary guidelines! Listen to me, you are in control! Did you hear me? YOU ARE IN CONTROL!!! You set the guidelines. You allow foods. As long as they live under your room, you're the boss! I wouldn't recommend a "do as I say, not as I do" relationship though. Some families are real strict and are able to do great with it! No refined sugars. No artificial dyes. Everything organic. Never eating out and when they do it most certainly is not at McDonalds. Other families let anything go! Diet drinks are given at a young age. McDonalds is eaten frequently. Chips, pop, and cookies are part of every meal. Ingredients are never read. You also have a few families smack dab in the middle. Yes, they do occasionally eat out, and ever so often a not so healthy item is consumed, but they also eat lots of fruits and veggies and are making changes ever so often. My best advice? Baby steps! Decide what you want to change and do it! For instance, whenever we go out to eat I tend to order water, but my husband and kids get pop. I thought that it made our dining experience special if they (the kids) were allowed a special treat. However, lately, it's been weighing on my mind that times like that weren't healthy and I needed to change it! New guideline! Tea or water is now what they'll be allowed to have when we go out. Same thing applies for our visits to the gas station. We tend to not keep anything in the house except unsweet tea, water, and milk. We would, however, go to the local gas station several times a week and get drinks. Again, I was slacking in my parenting and allowed the kids to chose whatever they wanted- including red dye drink, Sunny D! I knew that wasn't healthy, but I allowed it anyway. Now, the rule is that when (which will be less than it had been) we do go to a gas station, it will be with no pop being purchased, but flavored milk, tea, or 100% juice. It's not a sugar thing for me as much as it's an "everything else" thing. I'd rather them at least get SOMETHING (a few vitamins, minerals, or calcium) than NOTHING. I'm sure over time even these things will change. You do what works for your family, but you decide! Kids will drink Mountain Dew if you let them! Provide lots of fruits and veggies and they will eat when they're hungry!
Teach them! Use every opportunity to teach them why exercise is important and what makes certain foods better than others! Teach them about all the vitamins and minerals you find in "real" foods. Let them know that exercise helps build healthy hearts and it makes you feel good! My youngest two daughters informed me the other day that they liked to exercise during their daily quiet time. When I mentioned one day while we were out of town that it was time to go get some real food, my oldest thought I meant that we weren't going to be eating out! We were several hours away from home and had no other options BUT to eat out. I simply meant food of substance and not snacks, but she heard real food and it triggered all the conversations that we've had about real food! Show them the power of food- both for good and evil.
Don't expect too much! They are children after all and if they aren't use to doing these things allow them some slack. Don't expect a child who previously only ate chicken nuggets and french fries to enjoy a big bowl of couscous and broccoli! Baby steps are important here, so ease them into a healthy lifestyle gently. If you are already active and lovers of healthy foods, branch out and try something different! Keep their ages in mind, too. I have different expectations with my 4 year old than I do of my 9 year old. Some nights, all I want my 4 year old to do is at least try one bite, but I expect my 9 year old to eat every bit on her plate.
How are you raising healthy kids?
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