Kids love candy and junk food, and that's a fact. It can be difficult to get your kids to stray from the sugary and carb-filled snacks they know and love. However, there are a few ways for your kids to become more involved in their own healthy eating habits. Look to these helpful tips if you're trying to get your kids -- and your whole family! -- to choose and enjoy healthier foods and drinks.
About two million children ages 12 to 19 in the United States have a pre-diabetic condition linked to obesity and inactivity. These factors put children at risk for full-blown diabetes and cardiovascular problems down the road. To combat these unfortunate data, help your children make smart and healthy choices by giving them just that: choices.
When children have a say in what they do, they'll be more willing to partake in what they've chosen for themselves. When your kids bring their lunch to school, have them pack their lunches the night before to ensure they have a say in what goes in their lunch box. When it's time to make dinner, have your kids help you choose what meal to prepare as well as take part in cooking it.
Swap Out Unhealthy Foods and Drinks
When it comes to healthier foods and drinks, start small. Make swaps for healthier alternatives. Instead of soda, opt for flavored sparkling water. Try Greek yogurts, lighter salad dressings, baked chips, mixed nuts, low-fat milk, and smoothies instead of ice cream. Your kids may not even notice some of these changes, and what they do notice they may enjoy more.
Ease Into Healthier Carb Options
White pasta and bread can also be swapped for their whole wheat alternatives. Chickpea, red lentil, and brown rice-based pasta are also becoming more popular as people across the country try to lean toward maintaining healthier diets. With pasta sauce and veggies added to alternative pasta options and peanut butter and jelly added to whole wheat bread, your kids will learn to love these healthier options. Plus, once they start eating these foods, they'll become used to their different tastes and textures and perhaps become more open to other healthier food options.
Keep Healthy Snacks Handy
Keeping healthy snacks handy for your kids as they're running out the door for school or soccer practice is the best way to incorporate them into your kids' diet. Keep apples, bananas, clementines, granola bars, mixed nuts, pretzels and hummus or peanut butter, and other healthy, grab-and-go snacks in a bowl in your kitchen for easy access.
75% of the four million people wearing braces in the United States are under 18 years of age -- and perhaps your kids are part of this percentage. If they are, be sure to keep their braces in mind when you're picking out grab-and-go snacks. Bananas may be more favorable than apples, as the apple skin can get stuck in their braces. Pretzels and peanut butter might be better than a chewy or sticky granola bar that can damage the metal brackets on their teeth. You want your kids to take care of their oral hygiene as they simultaneously eat healthier.
Eat As a Family
The examples parents set for their children are important, and eating dinner as a family is a great way to show your kids that eating healthy is important. Be sure to include healthy carbohydrates, vegetables, and protein in your family's dinner each night. Remember that protein doesn't have to be in the form of meat. Beans, legumes, nuts, lentils, tofu, eggs, and soy products are healthier alternatives and may be more beneficial for your family depending on the diet you stick to.
Keep in mind that eating together at the dinner table is ideal. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children over two years old get one hour of screen time per day. Therefore, eating in front of the TV isn't the best idea. Utilize screen time to watch an educational or family program together later in the evening instead.
Your family's health is important. Utilize these helpful tips to incorporate healthier foods and alternatives into your family's diet. The sooner you start introducing them into your kids' lives, the sooner they'll become used to new and different foods with more nutritional benefits.