August is Kids Eat Right month!
As a nation, we are overfed but undernourished; many children in our society are no different than this. Parents and caregivers play a key role in the current and long-term eating habits of children; the choices that kids see their caregivers make have a strong impact on their own food and lifestyle choices. For this reason, August has been dedicated to making positive, healthful changes in the family! Here are a couple helpful steps:
What is bought at the store is what the family eats! Make smart decisions at the store and, better yet, get the kids involved in doing so. Letting your child (if old enough) choose between a few options of what to buy at the store is a great way to get kids involved in which foods will be around the house (i.e. let them pick which fruits they want that week).
Prepare Balanced Meals
Kids can get involved with cooking too! Giving a child age-appropriate tasks (breaking the stems off asparagus or using a kid-friendly knife to cut soft produce) is a great way to help kids become more familiar with the foods they eat. They may even be more excited to try a new food if they helped to prepare it!
“Healthy” foods aren’t always a hot commodity with kids…we get that! Just make sure meals are balanced. Always include a source of protein at meals and strive to add COLOR with fruits and vegetables.
This refers to how food is eaten, not what is eaten. The way we eat affects our health. As a family, is there effort to sit down, without electronics, and enjoy a meal together? Ask each other about their days and have good conversation! It is also important, for everyone’s sake, to avoid stressful topics at the table. When we are stressed we do not digest our food as well. Sitting down to allow time for meals is also helpful in making sure food is actually chewed, not just swallowed once partially chewed – another simple but effective way to improve health.
Set an Example for Healthy Habits
We can’t expect kids to make healthy choices if we don’t! Set a great example by having healthy habits yourself. If a child sees you enjoying nourishing foods, they will be more curious to try it too!
Also very important: talk about foods in a positive light! Use examples such as: these carrots help me to have good eye sight, these leafy greens keep my heart healthy, etc. This is provides a much more positive attitude towards food. It is also smart to avoid talking negatively about the foods that aren’t quite as nourishing.
Also included in Kids Eat Right month is encouragement to incorporate physical activity into a child’s life. Have fun with it! Play a game of tag, go for a walk or bike ride together, have a dance party, create a simple obstacle course, etc. Just pick an activity and help your kids get moving! It is also a great way to spend quality time with your kids.