twitter facebook stumble upon rss

Teach Your Kids to be Healthy in 8 Steps

sign up for the momlogic newsletter Tweet This

Our diet and fitness expert shares tips on how to instill healthy eating and fitness habits in your child (without them knowing it!).

By JJ Virgin: A mother teaches her child many lessons, including stranger danger, looking twice before crossing the street, and keeping their tiny hands off a hot stove.

Another important life lesson that will serve your child for life is instilling healthy eating and fitness habits. A mother who sets their child on a course of picking fresh, wholesome foods and then revs everyone up to get moving is packing a one-two health punch.

I know you're saying, "But JJ, isn't it too late? Our family doesn't focus that much on eating right or moving. We're couch potatoes these days with a bag of burgers as dinner."

Never fear. It's not to late to turn it around and go healthy with a few great lessons.

Teach Your Kids to be Healthy in 8 Steps

1) Teach Them that You're the Food Boss

It's easy to avoid fast food places with young children. You're simply not going to go there. Unless your 5-year-old has his own set of car keys and knows how to drive, it will literally be impossible for him to hang out under the Golden Arches.

Quick funny story: A mom in Seattle watched her 4-year-old pitch a fit in the middle of the driveway, to the point that two neighbors ran over. At the top of his lungs, he screamed, "Help me! Help me! My mom won't take me to Taco Bell!" Yes, you might have to deal with a few meltdowns, but stay firm and the kids will know that fast food is the exception, not your daily fare.

2) Teach Them to Want Foods with Nutrients in Them

Many moms teach kids to figure out how many calories are in a certain food. This doesn't make sense to me. There are more calories in a piece of healthy baked chicken than a 100-calorie bag of chips. One is the healthy choice because it's packed with nutrients.

Sit down and explain to your kids that our bodies are a chemistry lab and need vitamins and minerals to grow and remain strong. Explain which foods are dense with these, and which are garbage foods with no vitamins or minerals. This will set up a lifetime habit of being aware of nutrients.

3) Teach Them to Read Labels

Yes, even small children can learn to read labels to figure out the value of foods. Is this food full of those vitamins and minerals we just discussed, or is it packed with chemicals we can't even pronounce that are bad for us?

Remind them: We don't eat chemicals. Yuck. We eat real food. Take your children into the produce aisle and explain that these natural foods don't even need labels because they're extremely healthy choices.

4) Change Your Child's Taste Buds

I know a wonderful mom who simply didn't give her son cookies, cake, doughnuts, etc., at all when he was a little boy. They were alien foods to him. Instead, she developed his taste buds to love the sweetness of a ripe blueberry or the tartness of a crunchy fall apple. If you keep sugar out of the home, your children won't crave it. You can also teach that sugar is a once-in-a-long-time treat, such as at a birthday party. Your goal is to not make processed sugar a daily part of their eating plan. Do this by developing their tastes for natural sweetness and tartness.

5) Don't Equate Going Out with Snacking

I know moms who bring a pantry's worth of treats every time they put their young child in a stroller for 20 minutes. This is not the Great Depression. No one is going to starve on the way to the park. Stop! Don't teach your child that they can't survive without constant snacking. If your child ate a good breakfast and lunch, she doesn't need to eat pretzels and crackers all afternoon. Most of these snacks have zero nutritional quality. This non-stacking rule is a great way to help your children eat meals because they'll actually be hungry and not constantly graze all day long.

6) Schedule Your Active Time

Most harried moms have to figure out how to find time for a shower. It's easy to let the day pass without any real active time, where you get out there and move with your kids. Just like going to the dentist or the doctor, you need to actually schedule this time in your family's planner. Take it seriously, and never miss your fitness appointments. Remember, your kids are modeling what you are doing -- if you are moving more, so will they!

7) Make Moving Fun

It's great to have a family gym membership and schedule time to go there as a group. But that can get a bit boring and feel like drudgery. It's much more fun to plan family events that involve moving. Go hiking in the woods, rent those rowboats, or participate in your town's walk-a-thon for a charity. You want to make fitness your lifestyle and teach your kids that moving is fun, and a great way for the entire family to enjoy each other's company.

8) Teach Them Not to Make Excuses

Explain to your child that life is all about priorities, and being healthy is their number-one job. Remind them that if they take care of their health, then they can be anything ... or do anything.

next: One Million Window Covers Recalled for Risks to Children
196 comments so far | Post a comment now
tourism March 23, 2011, 10:00 AM

This submit was quite nicely written, and it also contains numerous helpful facts. I appreciated your professional manner of writing this submit. You’ve got made it simple for me to understand.

4g evo March 23, 2011, 11:03 AM

The webpage provided to us has some exciting characteristics. It realy raise my knowledge about the topic.

Jobs Finder March 23, 2011, 7:42 PM

Hey man I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to write something worth reading . I am all over the net and I see so much useless junk that is just created for the sake of putting something new on their page. It takes passion to create good stuff, thanks for caring.

best video projector March 23, 2011, 9:30 PM

Thanks for sharing it. I’m for sure going to look for a copy.

health March 23, 2011, 10:56 PM

You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

wpolscemamymocneseo March 24, 2011, 1:46 AM

Just want to thank you for this amazing article. This is kind of a thing I was searching for (Thanks Bing

debt March 24, 2011, 3:58 AM

I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for wonderful info I was looking for this info for my mission.

cheap wedding dress March 24, 2011, 4:05 AM

thanks about your post. very gud.

debt March 24, 2011, 5:37 AM

With thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel can uncover any info in article and discus forum

shop snow boot March 24, 2011, 5:56 AM

Good 1, many thanks for the tip

jerseys hokey cheap March 24, 2011, 12:59 PM

Hello, i think that i saw you visited my web site so i came to “return the favor”.I am attempting to find things to improve my web site!I suppose its ok to use a few of your ideas!!

us immigration attorney directory March 24, 2011, 3:15 PM

Great web site. Lots of useful information here. I’m sending it to several buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you to your sweat!

buy laptop March 24, 2011, 5:43 PM

Hmmm for some cause only half the submit may be seen. I tried reloading but still exact same.

health fitness March 24, 2011, 5:53 PM

nice! i can tell this was critical! good work!

chemex coffee maker March 24, 2011, 11:47 PM

You have mentioned very interesting points ! ps nice site.

First Time Home Buyer Assistance March 25, 2011, 12:03 AM

This page appears to get a good ammount of visitors. How do you advertise it? It offers a nice individual twist on things. I guess having something authentic or substantial to talk about is the most important thing.

emergency kit March 25, 2011, 1:13 AM

I’m pleased I located this web page,

get battlefield 3 March 25, 2011, 3:06 AM

Hello! I stored it to my computer^^ Nice post.

paysafecard March 25, 2011, 5:46 AM

I wanted to follow up and allow you to know how much I appreciated discovering your web site today. I will consider it a honor to operate at my business office and be able to make real use of the tips contributed on your site and also take part in visitors’ feedback like this. Should a position regarding guest article author become on offer at your end, please let me know.

best tattoo March 25, 2011, 9:02 AM

I think this is interesting and do not see posted often. This is great information.

Back to top >>