Kids: National Nutrition Month
March is National Nutrition Month. One way to lead your children down the path of having a healthy lifestyle is to be a healthy role model. You may feel the people who have the most influence in your children’s lives are the ones on the television, but you are the most influential person in your children’s lives.
Exercise as a family. Walk, run and play with your children. Get outside and throw the football, kick a soccer ball back and forth, play catch or ride bikes together. Teach your kids the importance of physical activity. If you exercise as a family, not only will it benefit your children’s health, but it will also benefit your health.
Make this time together a positive time. When your children run a little faster or hit the baseball a little farther, praise them. This is a time to build your kids up and boost their self-confidence.
Make exercising a regular routine. Making exercise a regular routine will help you stick with it. It could be going for a walk after dinner or playing soccer at the local park on Saturday mornings. Pick times that are good for your family schedule.
Let your children choose what activity they want to do. If you make your child go on walks than when they would rather ride their bike, exercise will feel more like a chore than something fun.
Limit your children’s screen time to no more than 2 hours a day. This is playing computer games, video games and watching TV. Instead of playing basketball on the computer or the video game system, get outside and play basketball on the driveway.
Last but not least, make your activities fun!
Throughout life, we teach our children different life skills, and how to shop for nutritious foods should be one of them.
With younger kids, make grocery shopping a game. Ask your children “Can anyone find the bananas?” or “What color is an apple”? Not only will this help keep your children entertained, but they will also learn about different foods. For kids that are a little older, get them to get 4 apples or help pick out a cereal with a certain NuVal score.
Teach your children about the NuVal nutritional scoring system. Get your children to help you find the highest NuVal score of a product or get them to pick a score higher than a certain number.
Get teenagers familiar with reading nutrition labels and ingredients lists. Teach them what nutrients and ingredients they need to avoid. Get your teenager to read the ingredients list and look for words like partially hydrogenated oils.
Let your children pick out nutritious food they will want to eat. Get each child to pick out fruits and vegetables they would like to eat that week.
The more time your children spend in the kitchen, the better they will get at cooking. Cooking is another life skill we should teach our kids. Teaching your kids to cook will help prevent them from running through the drive-thru when they are in high school and college.
Give small children simple tasks like stirring, counting the eggs or helping wash the vegetables. Elementary-age kids can help measure ingredients, cut vegetables with supervision and garnish dishes. Older children and teenagers can work independently in the kitchen with adult supervision.
Kids who help out in the kitchen are more likely to eat the food prepared and try new foods.
It’s important to sit down as a family with the TV and cellphones off and enjoy eating together. This is a time when you can talk to your kids about their day and what is going on in their lives. Research shows children that are involved in family dinners are less likely to smoke, drink or do illegal drugs.