A Recipe for Success: 5 Easy Ways to Introduce a Healthy Lifestyle to Your Children
As parents, we are the providers of healthy foundations.
Childhood habits start in the family. By helping children choose and learn to
love healthy foods and exercise, we are setting them up for a healthy adult
There’s No Better Time Than the Present
If you are already teaching your child to eat the daily recommended portions of grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, meats, and fats, wonderful! However, if your family is like most modern families, then finding the time may seem like too daunting of a task. Juggling a demanding job, your daughter’s tumble and dance classes, your son’s t-ball practice, taking your dog to the vet, attending your spouse’s work parties, taking care of an elderly parent or grandparent, family vacations, family reunions… it’s no wonder FAST food became extremely popular in the twenty first century! And let’s be honest, if finding the time to choose healthy foods has become hard in the 2000’s, forget exercising!
Your Saving Grace
The good news is that there is absolutely no need to be perfect. Sure, you’ll come across a supermom or superdad on Instagram or YouTube and envy them, but don’t let that make you feel like a minority. In fact, according to a 2017 national poll by Mott Children’s Hospital, only 13% of parents reported encouraging their children to eat vegetables and fruits every day. Trust us; you are not alone in this struggle.
Take Baby Steps – Literally!
The key is consistency. Remember, quality over quantity; start small and work your way up. The last thing you want is to give you and your family a lifestyle shock.
Healthy Eating and Exercises for Children Made Easy
Here are 6 tips for gradually introducing healthy food choices and exercise into your children’s lives.
Always eat breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, mornings can easily be the most hectic part of our day, so choose options that are quick to make. Pre-chopped fruit, instant oatmeal, and scrambled eggs are all choices that take maybe two minutes to make. You can also meal prep turkey sausage over the weekends, and pop a few pieces in the microwave each morning throughout the week.
Follow Nutrition Accounts on Social Media
The term, you are who you hang with, exists for a reason. As humans we are easily impressionable. Follow two or three Instagram accounts centered on healthy and delicious meals. After a few days of looking at chef-worthy pictures, you’ll find yourself more motivated to set aside time to throw together a nice chicken salad or grill some turkey burgers for your family. Kevin Curry of FitMenCook offers great recipes for high protein meals. Gina Homolka of SkinnyTaste offers hundreds of nutrient packed recipes that can be sorted by special diets! Is your child gluten intolerant or dairy intolerant? Gina has plenty of recipes for you.
Bonus Tip: If you are following food accounts that post frequent pictures of cheesy french fries, bacon cheese burgers, and gigantic milkshakes, then waste no time and click that unfollow button! McDonalds will be even harder to resist if you’re looking at pictures of it every day.
Allow Wiggle Room
One common reason why people find it hard to stick with healthy lifestyle changes is because they often don’t ease into it. Think about it, if you and your family are used to eating fairly unhealthy every day, and then you immediately cut out all unhealthy foods from your lives, you’ve basically quit your old lifestyle cold turkey. Especially for young children, this can be a hard concept to grasp. Instead, allow your family to eat ice cream, chips, and candy, just not as much. Eventually you can cut down on these items even more, but only after your family acclimates.
Don’t Use Snacks and Treats as a Reward
We’ve all been there; we tell our child if they’re good in the grocery store we’ll buy them an ice cream cone afterwards. While it’s absolutely good to reward children when they behave well, it’s not the best to create an association between “treats” and good behavior. Psychologically, this tells children that foods like ice cream, chips, and candy are better than their healthy counterparts. Otherwise, why would they be used as a reward? Instead of only giving them a treat as a reward, opt to give them treats randomly a couple times a week. This way they don’t associate ice cream, chips, and candy with any one particular type of action. And most importantly, they won’t expect it when they’ve behaved well.
Commit to 30 Minutes a Day
Nutrition is a large part of physical health, but exercise and movement is extremely important as well. Make a commitment to taking your family outside and spending time moving together. You may not have a lot of time to spare, so start with 30 minutes. Eventually a half hour will seem too short and you will all want to stay out for an extra 15 minutes, and so on. Play soccer, throw Frisbee with the dog, play hide and seek, walk to the neighborhood park. You may have to give up 30 minutes of TV in the evenings, but your family will be one step closer to a healthier life. That’s a sacrifice worth making!
How does Little Lukes teach healthy choices during preschool?
Little Lukes is a leading Syracuse and Oswego County education provider with five inclusion preschool locations. The early education program includes credentialed and caring staff that specializes in comprehensive infant, toddler and pre-kindergarten development.
To ensure our children are receiving the nutrients and exercise they need while attending preschool and childcare, we designate time every day to outdoor play or indoor gross motor activities. In addition, every child is provided breakfast, a snack, and lunch. To view a sample schedule, please visit our website.
Additional services include pediatric speech therapy, pediatric physical therapy and pediatric occupational therapy. Preschool locations include Dewitt (East Syracuse), Baldwinsville (Radisson), Oswego, Fulton, and Pulaski.
For information about Little Lukes, please contact us at www.littlelukes.com/contact.html