Everyone has a unique health journey, and often, people seek help from experts, such as fitness coaches and nutritionists, for ways to improve their health and fitness habits. We naturally enjoy following leaders because we know that they have knowledge and expertise in areas in which we need more guidance. If you are a parent, an older sibling, a nanny, or someone who is a role model in a child’s life, you are their go-to expert and their guidance for everything! Cultivating healthy habits in your kids takes particular steps, and three easy ways to get started is through leading by example, partaking in healthy activities together and guiding your family’s food choices.
Lead By Example
Your little ones are constantly watching you — they think you are pretty cool, so it’s important to be a good role model who embodies healthy living. Be conscientious of your own health and fitness regimens, as they will imitate the things you do and acquire the habits you have. If you have a gym membership, check to see if your gym is kid-friendly, so your kids can come hangout and watch or join you for a one-hour workout session.
It is also important to explore your child’s interest. If they love dancing, enroll them in a hip-hop class! Sports provide several options as well; and not only do sports keep your children’s bodies healthy and moving, they also provide lessons and challenges that will help them build good character and great camaraderie. Chances are kids are going to continue engaging in physical activity without having to drag them by their feet if it is something that interests them.
Do Things Together
Yes, it can be hard balancing a demanding job (or jobs!), raising kids, keeping up with daily to-do’s, and maintaining your own health and sanity. So what is the one focus that will make the biggest difference? The answer is staying involved. In today’s day and age, it is easy to resolve a child’s boredom with iPads and gadgets, but it’s important to not allow electronics to replace physical activity and quality time together. Make exercise a family activity and a fun experience. This can include everyday activities, such as walking the dog, playing tag, building snow forts or going to the park. Not only will you be able to enjoy quality time spent together, but you will also both reap the benefits of physical activity.
Another healthy activity that you and your child can do together is grocery shopping and preparing meals together. This will give you an opportunity to teach them about nutrition and learn more about their food preferences. Children will be bolder in trying new foods that they help you prepare because it is a part of the fun experience together.
Guide Your Family’s Food Choices
Eating healthy is not about forcing your children to eat foods they don’t like and controlling everything they consume; this could lead to them associating stress with eating. Instead, create an environment that will help them practice making healthy food choices. Leave the cookies and chips at the grocery store and have healthy snacks visibly available and within arm’s reach for them. Your family’s diet will resemble the food you keep in your house. Encourage your children to drink more water and avoid bringing sugar-packed juice boxes and soda into the house. Sugar is addictive, and if it is available, children will most likely consume it because it tastes good, not because they are thirsty. Find out more about your child’s school lunch program to make sure they are getting a wide variety of healthy foods when they are eating at school, or just simply make them a nutritious lunch to-go.
Forming healthy eating habits is essential, but keep in mind that you are trying to develop an overall healthy lifestyle that is sustainable and enjoyable for them, too. So when your kids are outside of the home, at parties or social events, don’t deprive them of enjoying a bowl of ice cream or a having a pizza party with their friends. It won’t destroy their health and everything you’ve built, so don’t sweat it; it’s one meal versus a solid, healthy foundation that you have cultivated into their daily lifestyle that they will be able to carry into their adulthood.
Kelsey Emmanuel is a certified CrossFit Level 1 trainer. Follow along with her workout tips and tutorials on Instagram @kelsey. emmanuel and on Facebook at Kelsey’s Health Journey.