Do these promis­es sound familiar?

“When I have kids, I’ll nev­er let them eat XYZ.”

“My kids will always eat what­ev­er I put in front of them.”

“Our fam­i­ly will nev­er eat out all the time.”

We’ve all said them at some point in our lives and, whether we’ve start­ed a fam­i­ly or are still in the process of build­ing one, we’ve prob­a­bly all bro­ken those same promis­es! We read the books. We talk to oth­er par­ents. We watch all the edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams. And, the truth we uni­ver­sal­ly learn is that rais­ing healthy kids is hard work! Between get­ting them to eat healthy foods and encour­ag­ing them to get enough exer­cise, it’s a full-time job.  So, what can we do to make it sim­pler? Let’s get back to basics and look at 3 tips that can get our kids on track to healthy living.

  1. FOOD CHOICES—DON’T FEED THE ADDICTION

Per­haps the eas­i­est way to help kids make bet­ter food choic­es is to con­trol what food is stocked in your home. If your pantry is full of sug­ary (albeit deli­cious) foods, then guess what the lit­tle humans in your home are going to eat when they are hun­gry (or bored)? Sug­ar is addic­tive and so the habit of reach­ing for food filled with this ingre­di­ent a by-prod­uct of this addic­tion. Remove the sug­ar-filled food and like Ole Moth­er Hub­bard, when they go to fetch a sug­ar snack, they’ll find the cup­board is bare. Replace the sug­ar-filled food with gra­nola bars, low-fat chips, eas­i­ly-acces­si­ble cut-up fruits and veg­gies, yogurt, etc. and they’ll learn to grab these health­i­er options when they are hungry!

  1. BE A ROLE MODEL—SHOW UP AND SHOW OUT

The folks under your roof tend to watch what you do. They watch what you eat and why you eat it. Be a role mod­el for your peo­ple and make smart food choic­es regard­ing the type of food you put on your plate and how much of it you con­sume. If you are always eat­ing high-fat, high-calo­rie, fast food then guess what they assume is the right things to eat? Did you know those eyes are also watch­ing WHY you eat? If you use food to help you de-stress or when you are sad, they will fol­low your exam­ple. Do you assign your feel­ings of hap­pi­ness to food? You will have kids who will think food makes them hap­py. Make sure that how you behave around food points those who are close­ly watch­ing you towards healthy actions.

  1. INVOLVE THEM—PLAN, MAKE, MOVE 

Make kids a part of the deci­sion-mak­ing process for meals dur­ing the week. Chil­dren will be more like­ly to eat the food you place in front of them if they get to help plan out some of the meals. Make a “Fam­i­ly Favorites” list that every­one gets to con­tribute a cou­ple ideas towards whether it’s favorite break­fasts, din­ners, or even snacks. Next, ask the idea-gen­er­a­tor to assist in mak­ing that food choice for the fam­i­ly. Hav­ing a hand in cre­at­ing the meal gets you buy-in from your assis­tant. Final­ly, get every­one up and mov­ing whether it’s to vis­it a new park after school, take an after-din­ner walk, or go explor­ing on some local trails over the week­end. Move togeth­er and you’ll make mem­o­ries as you do it!

You can start build­ing healthy kids by fol­low­ing these 3 sim­ple tips. By stock­ing your home with healthy food choic­es, being a food-behav­ior mod­el, and involv­ing your fam­i­ly in plan­ning, mak­ing, and mov­ing, you will find your­self on the path to success!

BONUS CONTENT:

Here are some use­ful links to help you take the first steps towards rais­ing healthy kids.

Healthy Break­fasts

Healthy Lunch­es

MyPlate Kids