As a parent, the second your child enters the world you have effectually signed a contract. In this contract you vow to take care of them across the spectrum of many needs they will have as they grow into adults. You promise to clothe them and provide them a great home where they can feel comfortable and secure. You also become responsible for leading them into an adulthood that is populated by healthy eating habits and sound nutrition. Children excel at emulation; it’s how they learn their first steps, first words and body gestures. It also through this emulation that they develop their diet choices and their ideas about nutrition.
Each day, your child will be subjected to a slew of advertisements that hock their latest creations at your child. To keep your children in the healthy zone you need to be the advertisement. Be the what, be the when and the where on eating. Below are five great tips top establishing a great eating routine in your family.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Always be on the lookout for new foods and drinks that you can add to your approved list. It can be easy to pass things up in the grocery store because of a down-turned face or a protruded tongue but stick with it and encourage your children to try something new. Eating the same foods day in and day out can take its toll and may supply the urge to seek out less than ideal foods.
If you are having problems getting your little ones to eat some of the more nutritious foods that aren’t exactly in line with their palate just yet, consider chopping these bits up, add them to salads, lasagnas or casseroles. Disguise them until you don’t need to anymore.
Never use foods like sweets as a reward for good behavior. Children are highly influenceable. Creating a reward/punishment system with food has the potential to lead to a variety of eating disorders later in life.
Schedule and Routine
During growth and development, routines have been shown time and time again to provide the kind of clear structure that is essential for forming sound cognitive, social and emotional development. A child should have a vague idea of when food is going to be ready for breakfast, lunch and dinner. This can lead to better decision of food timing and amounts later in life. I still hear my mother’s voice in my head each time I reach for a snack around 4pm. “Don’t spoil your dinner!”
To make this more exciting, consider sitting down with your kids and planning out a theme night. Mexican, Asian or Italian could be a great way to get children exposed to foods from other cultures.
If you have the resources and the time, try and incorporate at least one new food each week. This will do leaps and bounds in terms of food exposure and my even turn you onto something unexpected.
A Family that Eats Together Stays Fit Together
There is no better opportunity to model great food choices than at the dinner table. Make an effort to have a family meal each day. If this is impossible because of work schedules, aim for at least three or four times a week. In addition to the great modeling opportunities, studies out of Harvard have shown that children from families who eats several meals a week together develop higher self-esteem, more vocabulary and a better sense of belonging.
Clean Up that Pantry
One of the first things you should do when establishing a healthy eating atmosphere in your home is eliminate any foods in the house that don’t prescribe to a healthy lifestyle. This means those snacks that you hide for yourself on the top shelf. Anything you wouldn’t want your kids consuming should go.
Look for foods with hydrogenated soy bean oils, high fructose corn syrups and artificial sugars. All these items are some of the biggest fat offenders.
When possible look for labels that state organic or all-natural. While there is still a debate on whether these foods are indeed huge diet game-changers, they do usually tend to be made with less artificial flavors and ingredients.
Stock Up on Healthy Snacks
We all love to snack so set your family up for success when they reach into the fridge or a cabinet for a quick bite. Rice cakes with a swipe of almond butter or peanut butter are my personal favorite. Loaded with clean and stable energy and low on fat and calories these guys are often just what I need to hold me over until dinner.
Take to the internet to discover more great snack options. There are hundreds waiting to be discovered and used in your kitchen.
About Author: Sam Omidi is a health coach, educator, and blogs about the weight loss and training ecosphere. He is the founder of WeightLossandTraining.com, a health blog that specializes in just about everything in the fitness world, including workouts, meal plans and weight loss tips . Sam works to help people take control of their fitness destiny through a comprehensive and holistic approach, tailor-fitted to their goals.