For most parents, getting your children to eat healthily is no easy feat. With kids going to school and participating in activities after school, there is little opportunity to monitor what they are eating during the day. However, there are a few small steps that can lead to a big payoff for your child’s long-term health.
Recently there has been an uprising from parents for healthier school lunches; however, we still have a long way to go before we can pat ourselves on the back. The elimination of soda and vending machines as well as lunch meals high in sodium and saturated fat will help, but it is up to parents to instill healthy eating habits.
The old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day still holds true. Unfortunately, kids remain in the dark when it comes to the benefits of a balanced breakfast. Getting yourself ready for work and your kids prepared for school is a challenging task; however, a balanced breakfast will set your kids on the right track for the day. Some think breakfast has to be an ordeal but it doesn’t have to be. Save the elaborate breakfast for the weekends. Stick to foods that are as easy as they are nutritious.
For example, cereals are an obvious go-to, but keep in mind that most are not as healthy as advertised. Choose whole grain cereals that have very little sugar. If your kid has a sweet tooth, cinnamon is a delicious alternative. The spice is a good source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. Whole wheat English muffins with peanut butter and your choice of fruit is another well-balanced meal. Eating a breakfast high in fiber means your kids’ will feel fuller longer, thus they will be less inclined to snack during the day.
Choosing the right foods at lunchtime can be difficult. A packed lunch is a smart way to avoid poor choices at school, plus you can supervise what your kid packs. It is unrealistic to think your kid will not want to bring any junk food to school so compromise. Let them pack one treat for the day and let them choose the treat. This will make your child less likely to visit the vending machine.
If you have a child that buys school lunches then it is your responsibility to educate them about what foods are healthy and those that are not. It is important to give them some independence, but you still should steer them in the right direction. Keep track of school menus and go through them with your child. Giving them advice on what foods to select will help them later on in life when they are living on their own.
Although dinner seems like the easiest meal of the day, it is sometimes hard to muster the energy to put together a meal. Fast food is the easiest option, but it is also the unhealthiest. Fast, healthy meals do exist. Planning out your schedule ahead of time will fend off the desire to visit a drive-thru. If you know that you are going to be home later than usual then you can save leftovers or make a small meal the night before. By doing this you will be helping yourself as well as your kids.
Regardless of how you educate your kids about healthy eating, keep in mind that moderation is an important principle in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There will be times that your child will choose the unhealthy option, but by teaching them the benefits of smart choices, your child will be equipped to make long-term decisions regarding their health.
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