August 10, 2011
Raising healthy kids is not easy. Picky eating, video games, piles of homework and fast-food campaigns are just some of the challenges facing parents today. Some days it may seem nearly impossible to instill healthy habits in our kids. The very best, and easiest way, to pass on healthy habits is to model them ourselves. And here are some other simple ways to sneak healthier habits into your kids’ routines.
Hide the veggies
If your kids are notoriously picky eaters, the easiest way to sneak in extra nutrients is to hide vegetables in their favorite meals. Add greens to a smoothie. Stir purred sweet potato into the macaroni and cheese. Grate carrot and celery into the meatloaf. Add mushrooms, peppers and spinach to the spaghetti sauce. Try making homemade juice and running a carrot through the juicer along with the apples. Almost any dish has room for some extra veggies, and chances are, your kids won’t even notice.
Make food fun
The growing popularity of bento meals is making food sculpture trendy. And kids are eating it up! Your child might turn his nose up at plain celery, but might gobble down Ants On a Log. Does your daughter leave her fruit untouched at breakfast? Try serving fruit kebabs. Turn a tomato, some olives and a bunch of lettuce into a silly clown face. Challenge your child to eat his banana boat before it sinks in the cottage cheese sea. Sometimes a little imagination is all it takes to turn a picky eater into a food adventurer.
Grow it together
If you have space in your yard, or even room for a large pot, grow a garden with your child. Allow your child to chose the vegetables he’d most like to try, then watch them grow. Many children become so invested in the foods they’ve nurtured from seeds that they cannot wait to gobble them up. Even better, have your child plan a special menu around the vegetables she’s grown, then give her simple tasks to help prepare the meal. The more a child is involved in the process of producing a meal, the more likely she is to eat it.
Dance dance dance
Slip a little cardio into your routine by holding a living room dance party. Turn on some silly songs and groove along as a family. The crazier the dancing, the more calories you’ll burn. And the kids will have such fun they won’t realize they’re exercising.
Take in nature
If your child groans at the mention of going for a jog, try finding sneakier methods of getting him moving. Suggest a ‘bug hunting’ outing in the park, or a game of tag on the beach. Play a round of ultimate frisbee as a family. Hold a field day with three legged races, egg tosses and water balloon fights. Any activity that gets your children outdoors and moving will help keep them in shape.
Make sleep a habit
Adequate sleep is just as important for a growing child as healthy food and plenty of exercise. In order to ensure your child is getting enough sleep, try to keep her sleep routine consistent. Have your child go to bed and wake up at the same hour every day, even on weekends. If sleep routines vary by more than an hour, the body’s natural sleep rhythms are interrupted and your child will not be as rested and refreshed as if she keeps a regular sleep schedule.
If you are willing to work creatively with your child’s natural preferences, adding healthy habits to her routine can be simple and painless. Just remember to be persistent and don’t be afraid to experiment.