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Girls eating Apples

From tots to teens, the way we teach our children to eat will likely stick with them the rest of their lives.  We are not merely feeding our kids from day to day, we are training them in their eating habits.

The spiritual well-being of my children is by far the most important thing to me, but I am also passionate about teaching them the way food affects their health.

What is good health?

Most people probably have a different answer for that question.  In my definition, good health would be a body full of energy and vitality without disease or sickness.

For most of us it is impossible not to be sick from time to time, but I feel it is important to seek to be as healthy as possible and teach my girls that there are consequences to poor eating choices.  What our children eat when they are small will be a big determining factor in their health as adults.  We are creating eating habits each and every day.  

Unhealthy foods can lead to acne, weight gain, sleeping problems, hormonal discomforts, depression, anxiety, cancers, disease, etc. In fact, I lost a first cousin to suicide – his bipolar disorder could be traced to a terrible diet, tool little sleep and battles with substance abuse.

Create Good Eating Habits

Do you let your children eat sugary breakfasts with empty nutrition?  Do they eat a small plate of good food and a large portion of dessert food?  Are their snacks all processed and sugary?  Do they eat ice cream, chips and sugary foods before bed?

It’s important to step back and take note of what type of foods make up the majority of our children’s diets.

To create good eating habits, practice these suggestions:  

  • Fix wholesome breakfasts to start their day off right.
  • Don’t let them get their own food and snacks.  If the choice is up to them, most kids will choose sugary, unhealthy foods to snack on all day.
  • Plan meal and snack times.  Make up plates of fruit, cheese, nuts and vegetables.  Sometimes I’ll have a plate of cheese and crackers and another of raisins and nuts.
  • If you fix plates of healthy foods for meals and snacks, your children will develop a taste for healthier foods.
  • Limit sugary treats.  Offer sweet fruits to help your kids develop a taste for the healthy sweets!  We do enjoy yummy homemade treats, but sugar should not make up the majority of our diet.

Food Additives Can Affect Behavior

Certain food additives have been linked to behavioral problems.  These additives can have a drug-like effect on them.  Read labels and watch for ingredients such as: food coloring, artificial flavoring, MSG, aspartame, sucralose, high fructose corn syrup, BHA, BHT, TBHQ, etc.

How to Train Your Children to Be Healthy

  1. Be a good example by choosing the right foods yourself!  Make sure your children see you eating fresh fruits and vegetables – and enjoying them! :)
  2. Start offering fresh, healthy foods to your children as young as possible.    If they don’t readily consume the broccoli and celery when they are old enough to eat it, keep offering these types of food to them on their plates until they develop a taste for it.  There will be foods that each person just doesn’t like, but our children can learn to not be picky and enjoy a variety of foods.  My 2 year old still isn’t too crazy about most fresh vegetables, but I keep offering them to her and she is learning to like them by watching our enjoyment of them.
  3. Teach them the effects that processed foods and food additives have on their health.
  4. Teach them the importance of good exercise and healthy sunshine.          Most children spend hours outside in the fresh air, especially in the warm months, but the importance of exercise and sunshine is normally forgotten as teenagers and adults. Make sure your kids know the health problems that result from a lack of vitamin D and exercise.
  5. Teach the importance of good sleep.  The older we get, our busy lives can result in not enough sleep.  Lack of sleep, however, can lead to obesity, heart disease, cancer and many other health problems.  It is very important for our bodies to get good rest.
  6. Learn with your kids about the excellent nutritious value of eating wild plants in your yard {and using them for medicine too!}.  A friend and myself recently started an Herb Club for Kids.  We are having so much fun and learning alongside our children!
What are ways you teach your children to be healthy?