Left to their own devices, kids would eat ice cream all day and vegetate in front of the TV. As their parents however, you know better and have control over what they do. But what about when they grow older and you can’t force them to be healthy any longer? If you look back to your own college days and remember how unhealthy your habits were, you’d never want your kids to go down the same path. These eight tips will help your children internalize healthy habits so they never go off track no matter what their age.
1. Practice What You Preach
Your kids are more likely to learn by observation than by listening to you lecture. If you lead an overall healthy life, eat a good diet and get plenty of physical activity, your kids will see this behavior as normal. On the other hand, if they see you skimping on veggies while forcing them to eat their Brussels sprouts, they’re
2. Have Family Meals
Make sure that for at least one meal in a day, the whole family sits down together. Ensure that your meals are home cooked and give your kids a chance to help out in the meal planning and preparation. If your kids are used to eating food cooked at home, they’re less likely to resort to just take out later. Teaching your kids how to cook is also an important skill for them to lead a healthy life. If you make mealtime fun, your children are going to stick to home cooked meals well into their adult lives.
3. Plan Outdoor Trips
Give your kids plenty of opportunities to burn off their energy outdoors. If you’re fortunate enough to live near a park, take your kids there as often as you can. Hiking, walking along trails and camping will also give your kids a taste for the outdoors, something which will stick with them all their lives. Show your kids that there’s a big, fascinating world out there, beyond their computers and video games.
4. Don’t Go Overboard On Restrictions
Maintain a healthy 80:20 ratio for your kid’s diet. Make sure they eat nutritious, home-cooked meals 80% of the time and the remaining 20% is for treats, junk food and all the stuff they shouldn’t be eating too much of. If you try to cut out unhealthy food completely from their lives, they’re naturally going to crave it more. When they leave the nest, they’re going to go all out on junk food because they
4. Make It Fun
If you make your kids stick to a healthy eating regimen with all the force of an army general, they’re never going to stick to it of their own accord. Don’t make healthy living a chore for them, turn it into something fun. Get them involved in meal planning, let them help you make dinner, take them out often. You could even plan a vegetable garden with them as kids are more likely to eat all their vegetables when they’ve been actively involved in growing them. When you present healthy living as a fun lifestyle choice, your children are less likely to deviate from this path.
6. Limit Screen Time
7. Explore Their Interests
If your kid is more interested in karate than in ballet classes, let them go for those instead. You can’t force all of your choices on your child, they’re developing into their own personalities. But as long as their interests aren’t burger eating contests, you should give them a free hand to explore what they want to do. If they’re doing something they’re genuinely interested in, they’re more likely to stick to it for a longer time.
8. Use A Good Reward System
Don’t reach for candy as a