Every mom wants the same thing for their children: the best. Often, this can be a challenge when it comes to feeding our kiddos healthy foods. It is much easier to buy processed, prepackaged foods, or to send a few bucks to school so they can buy pizza and french fries. However, as moms, we are truly the catalysts in our families to living a healthy lifestyle. Being that catalyst takes a bit more time and intentionality. However, once your kids begin to acquire a taste for healthy foods, and learn what makes them feel good, this will become a far easier task.
As a mother and fitness professional, it is alarming to read statistics like ⅔ of the U.S. population is overweight and 50% of people are on prescription medications. That is not something I want for my children which is why it is so important I begin to teach them about healthy living while they are young. Change is absolutely possible when they are older, but it is so much easier to maintain a healthy lifestyle than it is to have to create one in your 30’s!
It is important that, as moms, we not only set an example for our children, but that we talk to them about food in a positive way. Here are some tips we’ve found helpful in teaching our kiddos about a healthy lifestyle.
Talk about food as fuel.
It is so important not to demonize. When I talk to Emma and Cole about what we are eating, I am careful to connect that to the fuel our bodies need. Giving your kids this perspective will help them choose foods that give their bodies nutrient dense foods that truly provide fuel for their bodies.
Focus on strong, not skinny.
This is particularly important when talking to your girls. Young girls today are regularly bombarded with messages about the type of body they should have: most of which are unhealthy or unnatural. Instead of focusing on what the body looks like, focus on what the body can do. Praise your kiddos for being able to run fast, lift something heavy, or meet a physical goal they have (jumping farther, higher, longer etc.), instead of praising them for what they look like.
Teach them to eat foods that make them feel good.
This is truly an important thing to begin talking about with your children when they are young. Because Emma has some food sensitivities, we have had to really focus on teaching her to pay attention to how she feels after she eats. While necessary for Emma, this is a valuable skill for all children to learn. If they are able to decide what foods make their bodies feel good, and which foods make them feel bloated, tired, or irritable, it will be a lot easier for them to fuel their bodies well later on in life.
Ditch the scale.
I’ve already written a lengthy post about getting rid of your scale, so I won’t belabor this point. But, I don’t own a scale, I don’t talk about weight with my kids and I never will. I highly recommend you take your focus off the scale so that your kids can do the same!
Make some healthy swaps for snacks.
While it’s easy to buy prepackaged processed foods for snacks, making some simple swaps will go a long way to helping teach your kids about healthy eating. Some of my kids favorite healthy snacks are:
- All kinds of fruits and veggies
- Nuts (mine love pistachios and almonds)
- Protein Balls (peanut butter and honey)
- Protein Shakes (MVP Kids)
- Hard Boiled Eggs
It is so important that we are intentional as moms about the way we talk to our children about food and exercise. In addition, it is important that we set an example for them as they observe and take cues from our own relationship with food and exercise. Brandon and I strive to ensure our kids are eating to fuel their bodies and that they view exercise as a gift, not a punishment. While this is not always the easiest route for us, it is one we are committed to walking for the good of our children’s long-term health. Hopefully, these things will truly set them up for success as teens and adults when they will have to begin making their own choices about food and exercise.