Children can teach us a thing or two about life, like how to forgive easily, love quickly, and how to get the things we want. Little girl gets what little girl wants, right? When kids want something, they cry, whine, throw tantrums, and have a special way of making parents feel bad and guilty if it’s not given. This happens everyday with food. You give them something really healthy and nutritious, and they force you to have fast food delivered. French fries, pizza, cheeseburgers, hotdogs, salty chips, and sweet treats are just a few of kids’ favorites that have been blocking every parent’s attempt to make their children eat healthy.
But all is not lost. There are a lot of healthy recipes you can make that will make healthy look cool. Never mind if you and your kids are living in a condo where take outs, drive-thrus, and deliveries are rather common. Modern condos in the Philippines like that of DMCI Homes have invested on stylish and functional kitchen designs to encourage families to cook more and eat together.
Overall, the Filipino consumer has improved in terms of food choices. A survey by consumer knowledge and insights firm Kantar Worldpanel showed that over the past five years, more and more Filipinos are buying cereals, yogurt, canned vegetables, and biscuits. Soy milk, bottled water, energy and sports drinks, fruit and vegetable juices, and milk are among their beverage of choice. Healthy as mainstream is a good sign for parents who are looking for ways to introduce their children to healthy eating. Below are eating habits you can teach your kids and ways on how you can show them the importance of living fit and healthy.
Eat meals together
Eat together and be healthy together. Make mealtimes a pleasant experience. Do not argue over food and stop scolding your children during mealtimes. If there’s too much arguing, children will associate mealtimes and eating with stress and trauma. The tendency is they eat too fast so they can leave the table sooner or skip the meal altogether. On the other hand, if your family makes every mealtime an enjoyable experience, children will eventually enjoy eating what’s on the table and look forward to the next family meal time. This is also a good opportunity for parents to be good examples of healthy eating. Kids look up to you so make sure to practice or in this case, eat what you preach.
Guide their food choices
It’s not encouraged to dictate what food our children must eat all the time. It is better to guide their food choices instead. Aside from the healthy recipes you can make in the kitchen, it is best to maintain a variety of healthy food choices in the house. Make kids realize that healthy is the norm. Chips, sweets, and soda are better left at the grocery.
Keep them involved
Turn grocery time into an opportunity to teach kids about nutrition. This will give you an idea about their food preferences and how to work on a healthy alternative. Ask them what they want for breakfast or dinner, or share with them what you are thinking of preparing then solicit their help in picking out the items needed. Skip the junk food lanes if you can.
At home, one way of helping your kids become fit in your condo is by involving them in preparing meals. Cooking is not only an excellent way to bond. Studies show that involving children in the kitchen teach them necessary life skills that they can use in the future. At the same time, when children help in preparing meals, they get a sense of fulfillment. Children will also likely eat a food he or she helped prepare.
The 15-minute rule
Parents find joy in seeing their kids enjoy a meal. But don’t easily give in to giving them a second serving. According to medical studies, it takes at least 15 minutes before the brain can actually decide whether a person is full or is just craving for more. Make it a habit to remind your children to eat slowly for them to be able to detect better how hungry they truly are. If they want a second serving, tell them to wait for 15 minutes and if they are still hungry, help them with a second serving much smaller than the first.
Don’t mix TV time with snack time
It’s a theater culture to eat popcorn while watching a movie. But don’t bring home that popular practice. Make it a habit to eat at designated areas around the house like the dining room, kitchen, or even the balcony during a barbecue session. When kids eat snacks in front of the TV, they will be so distracted that they won’t realize if they are already full and this can lead to overeating.
Don’t force all food groups
Don’t worry if your kid is not eating everything on the recommended food groups. Kids will still be kids. What you can do is to find one food from each food group that your child likes and build on it. Make sure that it is always available. You will notice that kids do not get tired of eating the same kind of food as easily as adults. It’s because they tend to accept new foods gradually so let them take their time.
Never skip breakfast
The best thing about condo living is convenience. You don’t have to rush morning activities just so you can commute fast and skip traffic. This means you have more time for the more important things like breakfast. Never ever let your kids skip the most important meal of the day. A healthy breakfast keeps their mind and body active and starts the process for using calories throughout the day. A whole-grain toast, eggs, cereals with milk, and fruit are just some of the breakfast meals you can prepare even when you are in a hurry.
Set up a schedule
Habits are a matter of being consistent. Meal time should be something that is constant in your home. Setting up a regular snack and meal schedule and sticking to it will help your child’s body be used to following a schedule. This makes hunger and appetite more regular.
Have occasional treats
Do not deprive your children of chocolates and candies, especially when they are at parties and social events. This will give them the idea that sweets are occasional treats. In fact, there are healthy recipes under 400 calories that you can make at home and these include desserts. At the same time, do not make fast food your go-to restaurant of choice. Just make going to a fast food an occasional event and order small portions. Ask your children to share an order of French fries or ice cream.
Make eating healthy fun
Healthy should not be boring. Make healthy eating fun by getting a set of cookie cutters that you can use to cut and shape veggies and fruits. Make them so lovely that your children would be proud to show and share with friends. At the dinner table, start a simple game of pointing out various food groups in the meal and what they do for the body.
Making kids eat healthy may sound like a daunting task at first. And maybe it is. But with the right motivation and consistent dedication, your kid will eventually make healthy eating a habit. Do not punish them if they don’t get the importance right away. Be patient and let them take their time.