Today’s families are busy. As soon as the day begins, kids and parents alike are on the run—going to work, to school and then off to after school activities. When everyone is running in different directions, it is no wonder why it is hard for children to learn to eat healthy. Out of necessity or lack of time, many parents simply run through the drive through. Hamburgers and fries every night does little to teach kids about healthy eating. While you can’t avoid quick meals all the time, you can guide your children towards healthful eating.
Provide lots of choices:
One great idea is to make sure you fill your home with plenty of choices. If you avoid buying sugar laden sweets and snacks, then your children will know that you want them to eat healthy. There are many great, and delicious snacks that your kids will enjoy besides cake and cookies. How about low fat yogurt? Put it in the freezer for a frozen treat. Smoothies made with fresh fruit and low fat milk is another great choice. For quick snacks, fill the pantry with healthy crackers, dried fruit and dry cereal that has low sugar content.
Make dinner a priority:
Send a message to your kid about the important of healthy eating and dinner time by making dinner a priority. You will not be able to have a sit down meal every night, but you should aim for three or four nights a week. If you know you are going to have a particularly busy evening, cook ahead. Put food in the crock pot or stock the refrigerator with healthy sandwich fixings. You can even pack homemade soups or wraps as you head out to the soccer fields for the evening. No fast food required.
Read the labels:
Older children are great helpers in the grocery store. They like to make their own choices and they can if you set limits. For example, teach your child to read the labels. If they want a breakfast cereal, give them the opportunity to pick it out without your help. Give them your guidelines, such as it must have less than 10 grams of sugar, and let them read the labels. This helps kids understand what is healthy and what is not. Let your children have some choice in what they eat and they will be happier with the healthier eating lifestyle. Pretty soon, your kids will want to read the labels on everything you buy.
Encourage by example:
Of course one of the best ways to guide your children to healthy eating is by setting an example yourself. Your kids will see you eating healthy and it will catch on. Don’t lecture your kids about the evils of sugar and then sneak off for a bowl of ice cream! This is the worst way to teach children about healthy eating.
As your children get older, they can start making good choices about their eating habits. Make sure they have the tools they need to make the right decisions.
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