How to Help Your Kids Eat Healthy

Most parents and caregivers can agree that getting kids, especially young ones, to eat healthy can be a constant challenge. They don’t want to try new things and when they do, they can be put off by the texture or the taste, or even something else. Here are some tips that have worked for me or a family member:

Rule #1: Don’t force them to eat certain things! It doesn’t get you anywhere and may even backfire.

Rule #2: OFFER all foods by asking them if they want it and/or placing a small amount on their plate. The more the food is mentioned, the more likely they are to at least say yes at some point.

Rule #3: Make the food appealing or attractive in some way. Entice them. For example, with broccoli, I told my nephews that it looked like a little tree that they could eat. It still took a while for them to try it but the tree thing intrigued them and helped them get used to the idea.

Rule #4: If they really don’t like a certain food, don’t force them to eat it. They may learn to like it later on and you can certainly keep offering it to them, but if they’ve already tried it and say they don’t like it, don’t force them to eat it.

Some other ideas:

  • Hide the healthier foods in the less healthy food that they like. Go with this age-old idea of hiding it in their other food. You can mix small pieces of veggies and meat into scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese (or other pasta dishes), spaghetti or other kinds of sauces, breads/muffins that you make yourself, etc. The ideas are endless. Now, I realize that you’re not going to “fool” all kids this way but it’s an idea for some that are picky but not super picky.
  • Put it in front of them without saying anything. Serve their veggies on their plate along with their other food without offering it or mentioning it beforehand.
  • Tell them that they need to at least take a bite of it. This can go hand-in-hand with the previous idea. Say they need to try it before they make a decision about it. If they finish the rest of their food and want more of those, make a deal with them that if they eat their veggies, they can have seconds of the other dishes.

Children will learn to view it as their choice which makes them feel as if they have more control over what they are eating and is usually more constructive long-term as well. Sure, it may take longer for them to even try a food let alone actually eat it, but it gives them a much more positive view of healthy eating… particularly regarding vegetables.

I have used these tactics with my four-and three-year-old nephews for at least a couple years now and have much better results than when forcing them to eat certain fruits and vegetables. My mom also did this with my siblings and I when we were younger and I fully believe that it helped us enjoy healthy foods more. My sister and I especially like a variety of fruits and vegetables. My brother likes a few too, just not as much as us girls. I know for sure that what my mom did helped me and now I love all kinds of healthy foods that even she doesn’t particularly like.

My opinion is that the better a view of healthy eating that your kids have, the better it will serve them and your whole family. So teach them about healthy living and simply encourage them to live a healthier life. Most of the time it doesn’t have to be rocket science to teach our kids good habits!

What do you do with your own children to get them to eat healthier, drink more water, or exercise?

 

~Bonnie~

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Helping Your Children Stay Active

When it comes to getting your children active, sometimes that can be a challenge. I’ve put together a list of tips to help your children stay active and most of these will work for all ages:

  • They need something that CLICKS for them. Just like us, they need something that clicks for them. Something they find fun or that at least isn’t torture for them. What is your child interested in? How could you use that to get them motivated?
    • Let’s say your child is interested in a certain show, how could you use that show to create activities that give your child an opportunity to exercise?
  • Make it a game. Make a game out of housework, see who can get done first. Make a game out of yard work such as rewards or fun activities afterwards. Scavenger hunts are also a great way to have fun while being active.
  • Be involved. Sometimes just doing something active with an adult loved one can thrill them- play a sport, play catch with a baseball or Frisbee, take a walk, race them, go on a hike together, take them to the playground and actually play with them, or anything else you can think of. The opportunities are endless. I know I loved taking walks with my mom and playing games with other family members.
  • Involve them in your exercise. Bring them on a walk with you when you’re already heading out, invite them to join you in the  races you want to do or the training itself. Invite them to do an exercise video with you.
  • Exercise as a family. This goes along with involving them or being involved, but making exercise a family bonding experience is another good way to help them build healthy exercise habits. Kids may act like they hate family time, and some may indeed hate it, but they will grow up to cherish those moments.
    • Some other family exercise ideas besides the ones mentioned above, is a squirtgun fight, swimming at a local pool if you have one, bike rides, collecting fall leaves for projects, searching for certain animals or nature items, etc.
  • Take them to the gym if you can. Kids fitness classes, or if they’re old enough according to your gym’s rules, you can ask about them exercising on the main floor. Going to the gym can be fun as a kid and seems like a huge privilege for them.

Most of all, just make it as fun as you can and be involved. Don’t make them exercise unless it’s a family outing and they need to be with you. You want to create a positive mental image of exercise for them so they don’t grow up dreading it.

When you explain exercise, do your best to sound excited and happy about it. It’s catching and they will see that you like it. At the very least, being happy about it yourself communicates to them that exercise is a good thing that their parents enjoy.

~Bonnie~

Sharing Sunday- More About Me

  
Hi, some of you have read my weight loss story that I posted last Sunday, but I didn’t delve into a whole lot about myself as a person in that post. So here I will tell you a bit about myself. My name is Bonnie and I live in Indiana but am a Californian through and through.

I am a 26-year-old full-time aunt (and a general caregiver to others), and I have recently embarked on pursuing my writing career. It has always been an interest and strong passion of mine… and at the present, I’m working on writing a book about my weight loss journey and hope to have it published in some form or another in a year, but also am aware that it might take longer. I have been working on other writing projects as well, one of which is actually this blog and I have really been enjoying it so far. Sometime in the next year I will be getting cerfification to become a health coach. I’m excited for that as my career because I want to help as many people as I can to live healthy, high quality lives. I’ve experienced firsthand how hard it is to start, and continue, a health journey. So my dream is to help guide individuals to do just that, to arm them with information and encouragement and to be a sounding board as well.

Besides babysitting my brothers two sons full-time, who are 4 and 3, I am the proud aunt of three nephews and two nieces through my sister. They are older, ranging in age from 15 to 10. Now if you do the math, you will realize I’ve been at this aunt thing since I was eleven years old. It has really helped shape me as a person. Being an aunt is something I will always cherish and be proud of. That’s not to say that babysitting my nephews and being around them almost 24-7 isn’t challengin, but it is also endlessly rewarding as well. I can’t get enough of those random cuddles and other moments of love that are so beautiful and sweet. Who can resist the innocent and unconditional love that children give?

Last but certainly not least, I am a Christian. It is relatively new to me, in fact less than three months, even though I grew up in the Church of Christ. It took losing weight and finding myself, as well as a vacation back home to California to find my faith. I’m still trying to figure out what this means for me, but am very committed to doing just that by studying. My parents’ church family, also one I attended for a few years as a child, has become my church family. It is full of warm and genuine people and I feel blessed to be a part of it.

  
~Bonnie~