Every parent wants their child to be happy and healthy. A healthy childhood can set the stage for a healthy adult life. No loving parent would intentionally create an unhealthy environment for their children. Unfortunately, the daily demands of life often subtle obstacles that keep you from fully investing in your child’s health. But this doesn’t mean you have to take any drastic measures to get your kid back on the right track. It’s often the small and simple things that contribute most to a brighter future. Here are 9 tips to help you imprint a tradition of healthy living in the minds of your impressionable children and put them on the path to a healthy life.
1. Plan Healthy Meals and Include Your Children in the Process
Meal planning can be pretty impromptu and off-the-cuff for the modern American family. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does make families more prone to throwing together cheap meals last minute or getting fast food without considering nutritional value. Take some time at the beginning of each week to plan out your family meals for the week and include your children in the process. Explain to them why you choose certain foods over others, the nutritional value of the different meals you select, and encourage them to participate in planning out healthy meals in the future. Doing so can help a child develop a habit of being health conscious eaters at an early age.
2. Avoid the “Clean your Plate” Routine
“You don’t get to leave the table until you’ve cleaned your plate”. This phrase, or something like it, has been the gold standard of dinner philosophies for generations of American families. Chances are, it’s how your parents got you to eat all of your food at dinner. Many pediatricians and health professionals argue that it’s outdated. While it’s important to teach your children to be polite and grateful for what is given to them, forcing them to finish every morsel of food on their plate isn’t necessarily the most healthy option for them. Before you urge your children to clean their plates completely, ask yourself the following questions: Have they been given healthy proportions of food? What have you served them, and what elements of the meal are contributing to growth, health, and a well-rounded diet? Encourage your child to eat based on these questions instead of putting a plate of food in front of them and telling them to clean it up.
3. Cook with Healthier Oils
Many potentially healthy meals are made considerably less healthy when you cook them with butter or vegetable oil. Re-evaluate what you are cooking with and consider substituting butter with canola or olive oil.
4. Encourage Healthy Snacking
Unhealthy snacks can throw a huge wrench in the progress of your child’s eating habits. Healthy snacks, however, can be an invaluable resource for daily nutrition and energy. Be extra cautious about what your children are snacking on and seek out healthy, alternative snacking resources. Naturebox is a great way to order healthy snacking for your kids, and they deliver custom snacks right to your door. There’s also nothing wrong with encouraging your kids to eat carrots, fruit, and other tried and true healthy snack options.
5. Pack a Lunch That’s Healthy for Your Child’s Teeth
In a recent blog post, The Kids’ Dentist noted that the food that lingers in a child’s mouth after lunch can be especially damaging to their dental health. They then provide a list of foods that parents should pack in their child’s lunch in order to contribute to longer lasting dental health and improved dental hygiene. Cheese and other dairy products, for example, help to acid erosion, while the natural fats in nuts protect against bacteria.
6. Early to Bed, Early to Rise
One of the simplest ways to help your children have a healthier lifestyle is through a well-mitigated sleep schedule. Studies continue to show that a healthy sleep schedule including an early bedtime and early wake time makes for a healthier, happier person, no matter what their age. Childhood years are an especially important time to keep a healthy sleep schedule for healthy growth, mood, and neural development.