Yes, you know there is a child obesity problem in America. CDC states that 13.7 million children between the ages of 2-19 years are suffering from obesity.
This is 18.7% of our children’s population and it is continuing to rise.
Sadly, my family were a part of these statistics.
I grew up eating anything I wanted and not realizing my kids were doing the same.
Seeing the unhealthy lifestyle I was leading my kids, I decided it was time for a change. I didn’t want to just focus on my health goals and neglect theirs.
While making my changes I wanted them to be a part of it.
So, for every busy mom wanting to change their unhealthy lifestyle, include the entire family to make some changes.
How do you expect your children to live a healthy lifestyle? Children live by their parents and watch everything that they do. Led by example, and I promise it’s easier to include your family than doing it by yourself.
Transitioning to a different lifestyle was difficult, and it takes time.
These simple steps I took helped my family not be a part of a static and gain overall health.
1. Start by Educating Yourself
Educate yourself on the health risks of obesity and simple ways you can make changes. Learn how you can read food labels correctly and why it’s best to eat more of a plant-based diet.
What else should a parent educate on:
- How to meal prep
- Organize your kitchen for healthy eating
- The dangers of eating unhealthy food and living an unhealthy lifestyle.
2. Have a Talk With Your Child
Before going to the store and forcing your child to watch you not pick up any of the foods they want. It is best to have a talk with them on why it is important to eat healthier foods and leading a different lifestyle. The key points you should discuss.
- Health problems they can face with obesity
- How they can change it by food choices and exercising
- Explain why eating more vegetables and fruits is better
- That they can still continue to eat the foods they are used to; just less often/balance
- Never use the word diet
- Teach them on what you learn on health risks
Having a conversation with them on the matter can help with their disappointment of not eating the food that they are used to.
Answer all the questions that they may have.
3. Plan the Trip to the Store
Getting your kids excited about the trip to the store can help them become excited about trying new foods good for them. They can also gain an experience that can help them into adult life.
It is always important to go to the store with a list. It is even more important for you to do it while shopping with your kids. Let them decide on what new meals that they would like to try. A quick Pinterest or Google search can help you decide with them.
By letting the kids help decide on what meals and snacks they will eat throughout the week, it can encourage them to keep making choices on their own.
With healthy meal planning, I always found it easier to search on Pinterest than using Google. My three reasons for this are:
- You can save it
- It’s quicker to find ideas
- Mom bloggers are creative
BE sure to plan for meals and snacks. You want to have options for each moment.
Some kid-friendly meals for breakfast
Kids like to eat when bored or kind of hungry. Instead of having unhealthy snacks, choose simple snacks that are healthy:
- Nutella Sushi
- Apple Cookies
- Frozen Blueberry Bites
Don’t Forget the Drinks
Kids rarely like to drink just water. They need something with taste. We often get the added sugars and calories from our drinks, so try these options when your children want something else to drink.
See, this is why I love using Pinterest to find healthy meals for the family.
4. Make it Fun At the Store
Sure you would prefer to go to the store and be quick. With kids, really take your time and make it fun. Rushing through and making the trip boring can make them less excited about eating the new foods.
Show New Fruits and Vegetables
Kids love to learn and have fun. Show them all the different fruits and vegetables there are.Every time you go to the store. Choose a new fruit or vegetable to try that you have never eaten before.
Play a Game
You are still the parent and in charge. You’ll just have to make a game out of it.
Play Follow the Leader
Let them guide you through the store on choosing what healthy foods they would like to eat. This can help them find the foods on their own without having you to guide them through it.
Play I spy
This is another fun way to get your kids to point out certain fruits and vegetables. It’ll also help them learn foods they know nothing about.
For an example you could say:
I spy a food item black, small, and comes in a bag or can. When you are in a certain aisle, have them answer the question.
Answer: Black Beans
Try the Farmers Market
Let them know that the grocery store is not the only place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The farmers’ market can be a great way to introduce healthier habits.
5. Let Them Help You In The Kitchen
Kids love to cook and you may not know this because you never let them help. You can split up certain tasks by age such as a:
2-year-old Can Help With
- Pour dry items in a bowl
- Rinse fruits and vegetables
- Pick herbs
4-5-year-old Can Help With
- Crack an egg
- Spread condiments on a bread
- Wash dishes such as small plates and cups
- Set the table
6-9-year-old Can Help With
- Cook with you on the stove
- Peel fruits and vegetables
- Use a small knife to cook with
- Wash dishes
- Help put away groceries
Remember, at all ages enjoy being the taste testers.
Always make it as fun as possible and try to make a game with it. Play music and dance while cooking. Children love to have fun and make this experience enjoyable for them.
6. Don’t Force It
REMEMBER: It takes time to change.
You may think you should force your child to eat their foods, but it does more harm than good. It will make dinner time unpleasant, your child is less likely to eat, and less likely to even like it. When you add in force, it makes you into the mean parent. If your child does not like green beans, then do not force it on them.
Instead, try these tricks to help them eat their new vegetables
- Be Patient
- Hide the vegetables they dislike in their food
- Give them smaller amounts of the foods they dislike to eat
- Let them decide if they are ready to try the new food or not
7. Be the Role Model
Kids live how their parents choose to. They don’t have the option to just change how they eat. Take the steps to improve yourself and their choices. They watch what you do.
- Drink more water
- Eat the healthy snacks even when you don’t want to
- Try new fruits and vegetables
- Eat less meat
- Get up and get moving!
If your kids are like mine! Staying glued to electronics for the longest. Then getting them up and moving can be a struggle.
How to get them up and moving, you may ask? Start small with walks, riding bikes, or play a sport. You can also try these options:
- Play outside games
- Go to the park
- Come check out this post on how you as a busy mom can work out with your kids!
9. Save the Junk Food for Treats
I didn’t want to completely keep my children away from the junk food they enjoy. Instead I save it for awards and holidays. I want to know the key into creating a healthy lifestyle for them is balance. No food is off limits you have to be mindful of the choices you make. If they want fast food for dinner then they have to do their chores and follow the rules of the house.
Let your children know it’s ok to have junk food once in a while. You don’t want to tell them “NO you will NEVER have junk food AGAIN!” This will turn you into the mean parent and they will probably rebel against you. (I’m joking, I hope they won’t rebel😂😂)
Set up rules for the house and use the junk food as rewards! This way you can encourage them to make healthier choices in the long run.
It doesn’t have to be hard to encourage your children to live a healthier lifestyle. It all starts with you educating yourself and you leading by example as the parent. Once everyone gets used to the alternative lifestyle, living it will come with ease!
Now your turn! Tell me how do you encourage a healthy lifestyle with your kids?