You are what you eat. And what you eat, your children are bound to eat too.
A survey conducted two years ago by the America On The Move Foundation showed that 71 percent of children get information about how to be healthy from their mothers and 43 percent from their fathers.
Even without this survey and other related studies, it’s a no-brainer that good health for children starts with the parents. For osteopathic physician and natural health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola, getting yourself healthy and adopting healthy attitudes about food are two of the best things you can do for your children.
As a parent, you will need to explain proper nutrition to your children and why they need to eat the right kinds of food. Take the time to cook and prepare nutritious meals and snacks and more importantly, be a good role model for them. After all, it is completely unfair to ask them not to eat things they later see you eating.
Here are some simple tips from Dr. Mercola to help your children get started on a healthy lifestyle:
- Exercise as a family – Make exercise part of your daily schedule. Take walks, play tag in the backyard, enroll in some martial arts class and simply set aside time each day as a family to sweat it out and get your bodies moving!
- Stop being a couch potato – Turn off the TV, computer and video games. Not only is watching too much TV associated with obesity, but limiting these things will also give you more time to do physical activities with your family instead.
- Prepare healthy meals and set family mealtimes – Staying fit is next to impossible if your diet is mostly fast food or processed foods. Let your kids help in meal preparation as this makes them more likely to eat the healthy foods you’re serving. Studies show that families who eat together have better overall nutrition. Kids with family mealtimes are less likely to smoke, drink, do drugs, get depressed, develop eating disorders and consider suicide. They are also more likely to do well in school and delay having sex.
- Don’t limit healthy fats – There is no such thing as a fat-free diet, for you or for your child. Your child needs healthy fats from animal sources, coconut oil, raw nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado and others for his/her development. Introduce some healthy fats into your child’s diet by adding butter, raw cheese, or olive oil to lightly steamed veggies.
- Don’t use food as a reward – Don’t get your child thinking that eating unhealthy foods is necessary for their emotional fulfillment.
- Don’t force your child to finish everything on his/her plate – No matter how healthy and well-balanced the food, there’s no need to make your child eat every last bite. Most kids will naturally stop eating when they’re full. If your child starts overeating early, there’s a good chance he/she will overeat later in life too. Just serve them small portions or save what they don’t finish for later.
- Stay away from junkfood – “Kid’s foods” like pizza, French fries and macaroni and cheese are bad from a health perspective – don’t give in to their cravings. You are not “depriving” your child by not giving them soda and fries; you are doing them a huge favor.
- Nutritional Typing – Nutritional typing is an essential tool for you to find out which types of foods are best for your unique biochemistry, and it also works for kids of all ages too.
Raising healthy children in a country with a fast food culture and where junk food is available in every corner is easier said than done. But it is possible. You just have to make a firm decision, stick by it and take control of your own health!