Last time, we saw how easy it was to incorporate healthy eating into our day to day lives just by making small changes in the way we cook and shop. Getting kids to eat healthier – now that is a wholly different ball game! Most fast food and ‘treats’ marketed at children are loaded with sugar and additives. The addicting nature of these ingredients can lead to kids getting ‘hooked’ to unhealthy food choices.
The most exercise kids get these days is sending texts at lightening speeds, and slaying zombies in a video game. The increasing dominance of technology, decreasing outdoor recreation times and fully packed schedules…how do we inculcate healthy eating habits in our kids? Don’t fret, it’s not impossible!
1) Old foes can become best friends
Kids can be picky about eating their greens and other vegetables. Jazz up the greens and veggies by making a toasted sandwich or a wrap. Your young Popeye refuses to eat spinach? Serve them a creamy, comforting spinach soup. Incorporate veggies like carrots by finely grating them and turning them into a salad with a fresh dressing. This way, you make sure they are getting the vitamins, protein and fiber that they need.
2) Let them go nuts about nuts
Nuts like almond and walnuts are excellent sources of Vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids. The best thing about nuts is that they are delicious on their own, or served with cereal or porridge. Omega-3 DHA, in particular, is highly recommended for the normal development of the brain and the eyes. In addition to food sources, a child-friendly (really tasty) Omega-3 DHA supplement can fulfill the daily recommended intake.
3) Dinner time is family time
Now, this one might be the hardest to achieve. The television, the smartphone, the tablet, the video games….kids spend most of their day hooked to one screen or another. Eating in front of the TV or the computer can make the child too distracted to notice how much they’re eating and what their body is telling them. Eating in front of a screen can result in overeating or junk eating. Make dinner time a dedicated time to bond with the family. In an increasingly connected world, lack of face-to-face interaction can make us all disconnected on a human level. Let’s change that at the dinner table.
4) Let the soda fizzle out
Our culture is saturated with images of soda and junk food. Kids will be kids, and it is impossible to shelter them from soft drinks completely. The key word is ‘moderation’. Make soda an occasional treat, instead of a daily meal accompaniment. Introduce them to healthier, tasty alternatives like coconut water or neera. Better yet, teach them how to make their own delicious, natural juices. All it takes is a blender, and a variety of their favorite fruits.
5) Lead by example
Children learn by example and they emulate the adults in their life. Yes, there will be peer pressure and they will be bombarded by lucrative images of unhealthy food by the media; but, home will always be the biggest influence. Incorporate healthy eating in your own meals, so your kids grow up in a healthy eating environment. Get outdoors with them. Go to the park, play a game of basketball, or go cycling with them. Involve them in daily meal decisions. Develop fun, healthy recipes with them. Start a joint recipe blog!
Turning your kids into a clean-eating haven will make sure that your children are empowered to make healthy decisions for themselves.