Creating a “healthy home” can be easier than you think.
Creating a nutritionally healthy home is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure the health of your kids. To start, make smart food choices, and help your kids develop a positive relationship with healthy food. Your children will learn their food smarts from your example.
Below I have outlined ten tips for making sure that your children take in nutritional food:
1. Do not restrict food. Restricting food increases the risk your child may develop eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia later in life. It can also have a negative effect on growth and development. Also by restricting food you will actually increase the risk of overeating later in the day which will cause weight gain.
2. Keep healthy food at hand. Children will eat what’s readily available. Keep fruit in a bowl on the counter, not buried in the crisper section of your fridge. Remember, your child can only choose foods that you stock in the house, by limiting ‘junk food’ you will, by default, teach your child how to choose healthier foods.
3. Don’t label foods as “good” or “bad.” Instead, tie foods to the things your child cares about, such as sports, academics and hobbies. Let your child know that lean protein such as turkey and calcium in dairy products give strength to their sports and academic performance, the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables add luster to skin and hair and the carbs in whole grains will give them energy to play.
4. Praise healthy choices. Give your children a proud smile and tell them how smart they are when they choose healthy foods. Kids thrive on positive reinforcement!
5. Don’t nag about unhealthy choices. If your child chooses unhealthy foods infrequently, ignore it. However, if your child always wants fatty, fried food, redirect the choice. You might try roasting potato sticks in the oven (tossed in just a bit of oil) instead of buying french fries. Or, if your child wants candy, you might make fresh strawberries dipped in a little chocolate sauce. Too busy? Then keep naturally sweet dried fruit at home for quick snacks. With consistent effort taste buds change and soon your child will be craving healthy foods.
6. Refrain from utilizing food as a prize. Such acts usually lead to weight problems for your children later in life. Conversely, you should honor your children by taking them swimming, hiking, skiing, or with a game of catch. So long as it is something which engages them in physical activity.
7. Make sure that you sit down and eat dinner as a family. This should become customary in your home if it is not already. The truth is that children who eat their dinner at the table with their parents not only eat more healthy, but are far less likely to get into trouble as teenagers.
8. Ration food portions for your children in the kitchen. This allows you to place healthy food portions on everyone’s plate. In time, your children will be able to determine what is a healthy portion size.
9. Give the kids some control. Ask your children to take three bites of all the foods on their plate and give it a grade, such as A, B, C, D, or F. When healthy foods – especially certain vegetables — get high grades, serve them more often. Offer the items your children don’t like less frequently. This lets your children participate in decision making. After all, dining is a family affair!
10. Try to consult your pediatrician. Always try and talk with your child’s doctor before putting your child on a diet, trying to help your child gain weight, or making any significant changes in the type of foods your child eats. If weight change is recommended, seek the help of proper literature on the subject.