Living healthy starts at home. Here are some strategies you can employ for raising healthier and fitter kids:
Be the parent
Take charge of planning what your kids can and should eat. “From (the time) they were babies, I slowly introduced vegetables to (their) meals,” says Janina Ojales, mom to 5-year- old twin boys and a 3-year-old girl. “I also don’t deprive them when it comes to sweets such as chocolate, (allowing them) small portions—just enough so they enjoy it, but not over indulge in it. Also, I don’t give them candy to keep them from throwing tantrums.”
Get your kids involved
When it comes to healthy eating, kids should also be part of the process. During supermarket trips, steer them towards the fruits and veggies section and let them choose their favourites from there. Enlist their help when you’re preparing meals. Letting them have a say on some of the food they can eat makes them feel empowered, and ultimately more willing to try out healthier options.
Practice what you preach
Kids learn by example. It is important that they see you living a healthy lifestyle as well. One way to do this is to play together. Not only do you get to bond with your kids; you’re all exercising together as well. “Kids will enjoy exercise or recreational activities if parents are also involved. It makes them joyful, and they feel more secure,” says nutritionist Jeaneth Aro.
Monitoring what your child eats gets easier if you take the time to sit down and eat meals as a family. “Family dinners are sacred. We always eat together so that I can see what my kids are eating, and my kids can see that I am eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and not too much meat—hopefully they’ll follow my example as they grow up,” says Ojales.
Say no to diets
Never deprive your kids of food—they need all the nutrients they can get. Instead, focus on teaching kids how to eat the right amount of food.
“A healthy diet does not exclude any food. Everything and anything can be consumed in moderation. Find ways to accommodate their favourite foods into their meal plan,” says Aro.