Nutrition

Family Lesson: How to Train the Kids to Love Health

October 15, 2015
healthy family

You have finally found the perfect work life balance and have minted a new perspective on a healthy lifestyle, all the way down to the food you eat. However, you can’t seem to get the whole family on board…

what do you do?!

Despite being able to control the health factor in relation to in home meals, controlling external food environments is out of your hands. Therefore, you must rely on the idea that your teachings have transferred to the rest of the clan. Seeing as childhood and adolescence are the developmental periods that provide the foundation of adulthood, especially when it comes to habits, preferences, etc. These are prime times to teach the importance of nutrition as well as healthy, conscientious relationships with food overall. This can be difficult as this younger generation is exposed to upward of fifty-leven (yes, number is backed by science) images, campaigns and other stimuli from infancy, that creates a brain response activated by the allure of these often processed, sugar laden, nutrient deprived… JUNK!

So how do we fix this without killing the pleasure associated with food?

With a healthy home environment enforced as the primer, you create hands on learning in newer food environments.

The best one?

Going out to eat!

Why?

Well here, in the states, we have created a food culture of overabundance, overindulgence, and fear of food. Instead of embracing food as enjoyable but also the fuel we nourish our bodies with. For some odd reason, we have created a society where we can’t have both…

Well, I’m here to say.. you and the family can have your cake and eat it too.

For the kids this translates into showing them how to fuel themselves from a different perspective outside of forcing them to eat their veggies.

Besides, we all know we like to do things on our own accord.

Tips for the entire family enjoy the night out while indulging in some healthy choices:

      1. Stick to the kids menu – Traditionally, kids eat off the kids menu with the idea of smaller portions. This can be useful if the portions are indeed smaller and not of the deep fried or processed variety like chicken fingers, man and cheese, pizza, etc. however, if this is the case, you should use the next tip and leave the kids menu (and crayons) alone and..
        choose from kids menu for health choose from kids menu for health
      2. Use your sides! – Sides are generally made up of veggies or additional pieces of meat from the entree selection. Mix and match to create a colorful plate filled with nutrients. Even better if the experience is family style, as this allows even more leeway in tailoring meals as well as portions.
      3. No, soda please. (or juice for that matter)  – You know this, so the kids should too.. don’t drink calories… especially because most of those are coming from the loads of sugar used to create those oh, so sweet, syrupy beverages. We could rant about the numerous studies to date linking beverages to obesity and other ailments but instead we suggest to steer clear. Get some water (or soda water if they need fizz) and some fresh fruit 🙂drinks matter in kids health
      4. Lead by example – Reinforce the behavior so it’s normal. If, as previously stated, the home is a haven of health, then continue that in other realms of dining. Make sure you hold yourself accountable as well. Those kids are watching your plate as keenly as they are watching theirs. So remember food is your friend, not your foe. The eating experience should be enjoyed so note and discuss with the kids how they feel when the food comes, while they are eating it and even once they are finished. Explore how different foods affect their body and mind.

Start with incorporating only one of these ideas and build your way up to interchanging them, and you will be on your way to family style healthy living!

If you are still stuck some examples can be found here and here.

Do you have any tips to help other families develop healthy eating habits together? Please share them in your comments! If you need more ideas to get your kids interested in improving their health, click here to sign-up for the MECKids bi-weekly newsletter.

This is a guest post by Nicolette Graves who is a Nutrition Consultant and Health Education Specialist. Connect with Nicolette on Twitter and Instagram (@niktrition). 

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