Instilling Healthy Habits in Your Children
It's never too early to begin instilling healthy habits in your children. Eating healthy foods and remaining physically active support children’s growth and development, energy levels and attention. And, it helps them maintain a healthy weight as children and as adults. The earlier you introduce nutritious foods and an active lifestyle to your children, the easier it is for them to develop a healthy relationship with food and exercise.
One of the most powerful ways to cultivate healthy habits in your kids is by setting a good example. Children imitate their parents and if they see you snacking on fresh fruits and vegetables, they are more likely to want those foods as well. The same applies to exercise. If your kids see you moving, they will likely want to join in on the fun.
It is also important to keep things positive by focusing on the foods children should be eating rather than the ones they should avoid. Positive reinforcement goes a long way. Praise your children for their healthy choices to encourage future healthy choices.
Dinnertime should be a fun, family time. Consistent and regular meal times are comforting to children. Eating together allows the family to discuss the day’s events, catch up and spend quality time together. Avoiding television, phones and other electronic devices limits distractions and makes the meal even more special – and talking to parents over the dinner table enhances children’s moods and self-esteem.
To get started, get your kids involved in the kitchen. Give them simple, age-appropriate tasks. Kids are more likely to try new foods when they have helped prepare them. This is also an opportunity to teach your children basic cooking and kitchen safety skills so that when they grow up, they will be able to cook healthy meals for themselves.
Finally, stay active as a family. Plan walks, bike rides, hikes and scavenger hunts. When you’re all watching TV, make a game out of exercising during the commercial breaks. Quality family time that reinforces healthy habits is great for the whole family.
Written by: Abby Cannon, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern