When children are at a young age, parents are responsible to provide an environment that helps them to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can be a positive role model for healthful eating and activity habits for your child by:
- Involving the whole family in fun physical activities
- Encouraging the development and maintaining of a positive body image
- Avoiding restrictive diets and excessive exercise regimens.
- Setting appropriate limits on screen entertainment like television, tablets, and video games
Maintaining a healthy weight for kids is about more than just numbers. It’s about displaying healthy behaviours such as enjoying a variety of foods and various activities for strength, flexibility, and aerobics. Diets for kids can do more harm than good. Kids who diet can end up weighing more than non-dieters, with lower self-esteem and a higher risk for eating disorders. It is recommended to not put your child on a diet, especially without consulting your doctor or a registered nutritionist.
Tips to help children develop positive lifestyle habits.
- Eat Breakfast – Try making a breakfast burrito made with scramble eggs, cheese and salsa wrapped in a flour tortilla. Also try to teach your kids to use the blender to make their own breakfast smoothies.
- Enjoy a rainbow of fruits and vegetables – Children beyond age 4 need at least 1½ cups of fruit and 1 ½ to 2 ½ cups of vegetables a day. Serve juicy, crunchy, delicious fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. You can make produce fun by serving frozen grapes, vegetable kebabs or strawberry-topped frozen yogurt. Some kids dislike bitter or strong flavoured veggies so keep it simple by serving steamed broccoli or cauliflower.
- Encourage mindful eating – Ban televisions and tablets at meal time and help your children focus more on their food by being present at the dinner table. Discuss with your kids what it feels like to be hungry, comfortably full and uncomfortably full. Talk with them about the importance of trusting and listening to your body cues.
- Make family mealtimes a special time together – Eating more meals together can make a big difference in your family’s health, happiness and finances. Dinners made at home are less costly than eating out and easier to prepare than you might think.
- Choose Healthful beverages – Soft drinks, fruit punch and fruit drinks contain added sugars which could be displacing nutritious beverages. Offer healthier drinks like plain milk and water instead.
- Don’t forbid foods or use food as a reward – Forbidding foods only increases a child’s desire for that food. Instead of saying no to your child’s favourite food, limit the portion size. Use non-food rewards for good behaviour such as stickers or allowing your child to have a friend over to play