6 Ways to Create Healthy Habits for Your Kids

When I first had my kids, I really had no clue what I was doing (but I guess don't we all have no clue)? Well, when it came time to start feeding them, I felt like that is one thing I could handle. I had been in school for five years and was working as a dietitian at WIC (Women's Infants and Children). I did nutrition education all day everyday, for pregnant women, infants, children and postpartum women. I mean, what else did I need?

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Well, enter MY child....and I really had no clue. With my first daughter, Katelyn, I watched everything she ate and drank...and tried to keep it pretty healthy. She, on the other hand, had ideas of her own....Around 9 months, when I could start to offer food with more texture, I did what every good mom would do 😃 I went and bought some of those #3 baby foods. SHE. WOULDN'T. TOUCH. THEM.!

I'm like, what the heck am I going to feed this kid? From 9 months to probably 13 months, the child survived on bananas and toast.....LOTS AND LOTS of toast, and bananas. And, I am proud to say that she is 21 years old and survived!!

My youngest, Emily, same. She would not touch those #3 baby foods, but she ate many more things than Katelyn did. She ate a variety of healthy finger foods and it was easy to continue to introduce new foods to her. 

One of the best ways to prepare your children for a long and healthy life is to get them started early with their own healthy habits. "They say" (don't you like how I say 'they say') that the best way to teach these habits is leading by example. Well, I wasn't always the BEST example, but I did and still do cook A LOT! Like, I didn't realize that people don't cook meals for their families much anymore. So, plus one for me! 

But there are 6 basic things that I tried to teach them. These are things I know, because I talk about this stuff for a living, but don't ALWAYS follow to a tee.

  1.  Drink water. Most of us just don't drink enough water. Sure, we're hydrated but,  it's often with calorie and sugar heavy beverages. I like this flavored water…it tastes great and is affordable!

  2.  Consume far less during mealtime. We're a super-sized society. We're accustomed to eating a lot during mealtime. Work on eating smaller portions during mealtime. Serve more vegetables on the plate and less protein and starchy carbohydrates. I sometimes like to use a smaller plate too. Your plate will look super full, but it is smaller portions!!

  3.  Move your body. Find a way to be active each and every day. Walk or bike to places when you can. Take hikes and family walks together. Play sports or engage in physical activities. The more you're active as a family and on your own, the more your children will be active too. An active lifestyle is key to a healthy mind and body. P.S. This is the one I'm the WORST at!

  4.  Appreciate food for what it is. There's nothing wrong with enjoying food and consuming treats in moderation. When people have a healthy appreciation for food, they eat healthier.
    However, when they use food to soothe their emotions or as a reward, it creates a misguided relationship with food. Children will learn to turn to food as a coping mechanism. Parents can help by not using food as a reward or punishment. 

  5.  Make more food at home. Takeout and prepackaged foods are sometimes necessary, but they're usually not healthy. However, when a family makes food at home using fresh produce and ingredients, they're more likely to eat healthy and to develop a healthy relationship with food. Make cooking a family activity on the weekends when everyone is home together.

  6.  Eat less sugar. Sugar is in just about everything we eat. It ís in bread, sauces, it ís sometimes even in lunch meat. Help your family break the addiction to sugar by choosing low sugar and no sugar options. Cookies and snacks are okay occasionally but they shouldn't be an everyday choice. Also, NOT something I'm good at!

One of a parent's most important responsibilities is to be a good role model and teach them. As your child grows they'll learn about healthy habits from you. They watch, they emulate and they adopt your habits.

Creating healthy habits as a family will help your children grow up healthy and strong. They'll take the habits they learned as children into adulthood. 

So, take these 6 things and use one of them or use them all. I think if someone can learn something from one of these things, it's a win!

Happy Eating,

Jennifer

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