Tips For Raising Healthy Kids
Let’s face it, we live in a world that makes it much more convenient to make unhealthy choices. From the types of foods we eat, to the time we spend sitting down, glued to our electronics-the modern lifestyle is not one set up for health and longevity.
We are all (usually) so busy that making healthy choices is often a huge challenge for many families.
However, it’s important to start healthy habits with your family early on because kids mimic their parents. Even if you have slacked on sticking to healthy habits in the past, you can still begin some new ones and make a pact to stick with them-it’s not too late!
I have listed some ideas below on ways that you can keep your kids and yourself as healthy as possible in a very unhealthy world.
1. Start the day with a healthy (low sugar) breakfast!
It’s best to start your day with the healthiest foods possible because if you begin the day with sugar and processed garbage, your body tends to crave it for the rest of the day.
Kids are often not as easy going when it comes to nothing sweet for their morning meal-especially if you are working on breaking them now from eating sugary, processed crap!
Here are some low-sugar breakfast ideas for your family:
- Eggs (scrambled, friend, hard/soft boiled, omelettes) with a piece of whole grain toast and some berries
- Oatmeal (that you make-it’s super easy) with you own add-ins. Some ideas for add-ins are: almond butter, nuts, berries, Chia seeds, flax seeds, diced apples, cinnamon, 100% maple syrup (measure it-try 1 tsp per child), honey (again measure it), peaches, etc….
- Fruit smoothies (you can sneak in some greens or add protein powders along with flax or chia seeds, etc…)
- Avocado toast
- Homemade breakfast bars or cookies (I have many recipes for these if you need some!)
- Paleo pancakes
- Sliced apples with cinnamon, nut butter, raisins, and (if needed) a drizzle of honey
2. Eat Together As Often As Possible-Taking Time to Eat Slowly
As you know, it’s important to connect and slow down with your family for at least one meal each day. Also take time to eat and chew slowly. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to tell the body that you are full.
3. Move More
Try to get between 30 and 60 minutes of physical activity each day. Short sessions of movement throughout the day add up. Some ideas to help include more daily movement are:
- Walk as a family before or after meals
- Make playtime with your family fun. Be active by shooting hoops, riding bikes, or playing tag.
- Be active in the home. For example, you can dust, vacuum, garden, or walk the dog.
- When you go on vacation, encourage more physical activities like hiking, swimming, beach walking, and biking.
4. Limit TV, computer, and video games to less than 2 hours per day
Encourage physical activity, reading, cooking, crafts, and other healthier options instead.
5. Choose snacks that provide nutrients and energy. (Pair a complex carb with a lean protein!)
These are essential for active, growing children and also make for a better choice for yourself as well! Foods that have fiber, protein, and that are nutrient dense will keep blood sugar levels steady, moods consistent, energy levels up, and also keep you and your children satiated for a longer period of time.
Foods that are highly processed and don’t contain any real nutrition will keep you and your children eating ALL DAY LONG because they don’t keep you feeling full and aren’t packed with vitamins and nutrients!
Here are some ideas for good snacks:
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Fruit and nut butter
- Trail mix (make your own-add in pumpkin seeds, nuts, unsweetened dried fruit, cocoa nibs, etc..)
- Greek yogurt (unsweetened) and add in your own mix-ins
- Cut up veggies and hummus
- Celery and sunbutter, peanut butter, or nut butter
- Berries and an Rx or Lara Bars
- Homemade protein bars, balls, and cookies
6. Stay Hydrated!
Drink plenty of fluids (half your body weight in ounces is a good goal) and choose water most of the time, saving a sugary drink for a special occasion.
I take my reusable water bottle with me everywhere I go, joking that it’s just like my “blankey”, but my kids do the same. We don’t leave the house for a trip without our water bottles filled up.
7. Serve a variety of foods
Eating a variety of colorful foods offers more nutrition for your body. Here are some other goals you should have for healthful foods to eat:
- Eat more vegetables and fresh fruits. Aim for a total of 2 cups of fruit and 2 1/2 cups of vegetables each day.
- Eat more whole grains. Examples include oats, brown rice, rye, and quinoa. Try to eat at least 3 ounces of whole grains each day.
- Try fermented foods to help improve digestion-Kefir, Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, Kombucha, and other pickled/fermented veggies can be super healthy choices!
I do hope these ideas help and if you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start-just let me know and I am happy to help!
Staying Motivated To Reach New Goals
It’s often easy to find motivation when you first start something, but extremely hard to keep it when the stresses of life get in the way. It’s especially hard now to keep the motivation alive when our “normal” lives have been turned upside down.
Below are 2 strategies that I find to be very helpful ways to stay motivated and follow through on your most challenging tasks.
1. Artificial Positive Reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is a principle of human behavior that says that a behavior is more likely to happen & will continue to happen, when it’s followed by something enjoyable or rewarding.
Suppose you want to stick to a goal of running two times a week for one month. Each time you accomplish your run, give yourself a small reward-like 15 minutes of reading time, a piece of dark chocolate, or your favorite smoothie or juice from a local juice bar. Each time you complete your run, reward yourself in a small & healthy way.
At the end of the month-think of a larger reward to give yourself for reaching the goal of completing the entire month, like a new outfit for the summer or a pedicure. (Ok, for now that pedicure might have to be done on your own, but you could include a bath & make it extra relaxing!)
I know we usually think of this reward system as something for kids, but you know it works for them-so try it for yourself and see what happens!
2. The Ulysses Pact
This pact is named after the hero of the Trojan war & is a technique for holding yourself accountable to stick with a goal, even when it is hard.
The key in this pact is that we make a choice in the present that binds us to perform an action in the future.
Suppose you want to stick to a plan of making a healthy dinner for your family 5 nights a week. Or, you make a decision to workout with a buddy 3 times each week. You could write your good friend or even your child a series of checks for $20 each and instruct them to cash one of these checks and use the money however they want, if you skip out on meeting for a workout or don’t meet your 5th dinner for your family for that week.
The Ulysses Pact helps you maintain a high level of motivation when things get tough by locking in a future behavior ahead of time.