Having kids, I’ve spent a fair amount of time with friends, both around our house, at recreational activities and at school. During this time, I’ve observed eating habits of these children and I must say it varies from child to child, how healthy they eat. I guess with a health and fitness nut for a mother, my kids were doomed from the start to eat healthy.
Now don’t get me wrong, my kids will not turn down a fast food meal or something that is greasy, fatty, and not in the least healthy for them. And that’s okay, I am that same way! As a young child I was a little pudgy and was that way until I was 7 years old when I started to get interested in sports and physical activity.
My philosophy is to enjoy your meals, and if that means once in a while go crazy and eat a fast food burger or hot fudge sundae. Hey, you only live once, so why not! My kids are constantly on the go and very rarely sit around and do nothing. Because they are active, I know they are going to burn off the bad stuff they ate and will be back to a good, healthy balanced meal soon after.
As I mentioned, they don’t make a habit out of eating poorly and they certainly don’t sit around watching television or playing video games all day. Having a poor diet at a young age can lead to problems at adulthood. Poor nutrition can lead to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, oral problems, and many other health related issues. The same is true for having a sedentary lifestyle at any age. Without even a modest amount of exercise, kids can grow into unhealthy adults.
So, how can you help your kids eat healthier? I have followed guidelines set by the government with the Food Pyramid. The United States Department of Agriculture has a great website called Choose My Plate. This site talks about the various food groups that are important to the healthy growth of kids. The site recommends that children eat foods in fruits, grains, vegetables, protein, and dairy categories.
What this means is that during the day your children should be eating in each of those categories. While every meal does not have to have items in each area, during the day you should include them. For example, breakfast could include a grain (cereal) and dairy (milk), lunch could have grain (bread), protein (meat) and vegetable (salad), and dinner could have protein (meat), vegetable, fruit, grain (bread) and even dairy (cheese).
Now that we know the guidelines, now comes the tricky part – getting your kids to buy in to mom’s healthy eating program. Not going to lie to you, it is not easy. Mornings can be very hectic around our house. My kids are not morning people, and getting them up on time is a challenge. Getting up late and dressed for school is difficult and doesn’t leave much time for breakfast. So, with limited time, we may be limited on what they can eat. Regardless of the time limitations, I try to get them to eat as healthy as possible. At the very least some healthy cereal with fruit in it, and milk. When I say healthy, I don’t mean breakfast cereals covered in chocolate. I mean boring cold or hot cereal.
I make my kids a lunch every day for school. Usually it’s a sandwich, with fruit and milk from the cafeteria. Once in a while I will treat them with chips or pretzels. Again, trying to limit the intake of sweets and chocolates for lunch.
With everyone’s crazy schedule, sitting down to a family meal doesn’t happen that often. So, often I will use my crockpot to prepare meals that can be eaten hot and fresh or be re-heated. Stews, roasts, chili, and other similar meals that can be eaten within our schedule are great meals to prepare!
Getting your kids to eat healthy is not easy, but with persistence, and maybe a little bit of trickery, you may be successful. While it can be a challenge, knowing that you are giving your kids a leg up on living and eating healthy. They may not thank you now but will probably thank you in the future!