With holiday shopping and planning take up more of our time this month, we all may be tempted to eat poorly. Today’s guest blogger, Rachel, shares with us a few hacks in how to eat more healthy, and thereby be a good example for children.
We live in a world surrounded by convenient eating. As many of us deplete our energy throughout the day while at work, it may be easier to visit the “drive thru” window than it would be to spend another half-an-hour to 45 minutes cooking dinner. However, it is this frame of mind that can quickly add extra pounds to everyone in the household. This is completely aside from the fact that processed foods can have detrimental effects on your body other than weight.
Children pick up habits and traits from the parents. If they view the easy way out as a logical one from Mom and Dad, then that is a habit that will be perpetuated throughout their lives. They will see the easy road being a viable one. Your decision to visit the fast food restaurant instead of providing a nutritious meal affects everyone within the household. This can also perpetuate that lack of energy you have at the end of the day.
Some children may simply refuse to eat vegetables or anything that is the color green. I was lucky enough to quell this behavior long before it started. I can’t say that I am the healthiest person on the planet, but I do enjoy the healthier habits of eating. Who ever said that food that is good for you tastes bad didn’t know how to cook. My children and I are always delighted with my healthy cooking.
1. Cost of Living – You don’t have to be a chef in order to encourage children to eat a healthier diet. From my perspective, we were simply too poor to afford to eat out or buy treats regularly. For the same price as a couple of candy bars I could get a decent bag of oranges. From my children’s point of view, that is an afternoon snack. Our mulberry trees are constantly ravaged over the summer from our children, which is free.
2. Copy Cat Eating – A prime example of children taking their cues from the parent is that of my six and eight year old daughters. Since I have a taste for mushrooms with a light ranch dipping sauce, my daughters have grown a taste for them as well. When I make my spaghetti sauce from scratch, my daughters hover around the kitchen because they know the mushrooms are going to be sliced up soon. Essentially, they will eat everything I do since I enjoy the healthier foods.
3. If it Looks Good… – Preparation is key when it comes to serving vegetables to children. Although few enjoy the smell of boiled broccoli or spinach in my family, we add them to salad raw. I know that cooked vegetables are good for you, but I too cannot stomach the slimy goop that spinach turns into. I’d rather add it to my salad topped with raw broccoli, shredded cheese and mushrooms. Coincidentally, that is how my children will eat it as well. Vegetables don’t have to be remembered as the gross items in childhood that many of us had to eat. My family and I love raw veggies and I don’t have to go through the drama of the children sitting at the table trying to choke down something they think tastes horrible.
4. Healthy Snacking – After school snacks are common in my home. However, we don’t go along with sugar-loaded junk foods. Instead, our snacks consist of: apples, oranges, trail-mix and yogurt. Lately, my younger children have been eating raisins. It is naturally-sweet snacks that I try to promote to my children. Pineapple, berries, and kiwi are among my personal favorite and my children believe coconuts are a delicacy. Regardless of their tastes in healthier foods, I’d rather promote these than chocolate or sugary-loaded cakes.
5. Starting the Morning Sans Sugar – Since my family and I have been on this nutritional kick, I’ve noticed a great difference in my overall health and attitude. I’ve noticed this change in my children as well. Like I said, I am far from being the healthiest person on the planet, but the change in the attitudes of my younger children have inspired me to continue promoting healthier eating. By providing vitamins and proteins to my eight-year-old in the mornings, I’ve noticed that her anger issues have begun to calm down. This is contrary to the general consensus on the Internet as so many believe that higher protein levels cause greater levels of anger. On the other hand, a balance of protein can make her more alert and energetic – which seems to be what is happening with her.
6. Serving Sizes – Portion sizes are another aspect of eating that many people don’t realize. Did you know that the serving size for a single can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli is two? How many people do you know empty the entire can in a bowl and microwave it? I admit I have a sensitive spot for canned pasta. However, I don’t eat nearly as much of it as I used to. Even if you don’t grow your own organic vegetables and such, you can practice better eating habits by monitoring the serving sizes per meal. Your child doesn’t need to consume the entire can of ravioli or Beefaroni.
7. Choice – Another method that I’ve had great success with when encouraging my children to eat better snacks is by giving them a choice. When we go to the grocery store, I give them a choice of what healthy snacks they can have at home. This empowers the child as he or she is now making choices that pertain to the functionality of the household. They can develop a sense of pride knowing that they made the decision for what food that everyone is now eating as a snack. It’s a small victory in logic, but I’ll take it.
If you are one of those people who are determined to eat a certain way and include all of the delicious processed goodies, at least do so in moderation. You don’t need to knock back that entire can of Pringles while sitting at your computer desk. You can enjoy the varieties of life as long as you don’t over-indulge and try to have a balance of nutritional value in your diet. Remain active and don’t let fatigue and laziness control how your family consumes food. You could do more damage to your family than you may realize.
About the Author
Rachel is an ex-babysitting pro as well as a professional writer and blogger. She is a graduate from Iowa State University and currently writes for www.babysitting.net. She welcomes questions/comments which can be sent to rachelthomas.author @ gmail.com.
Do you have a few healthy eating hacks of your own to share? Did they positively impact your children, too?