Kids are parrots; they are watching everything you say and do. Your words will go a lot further if you are backing them up with your own healthy choices. Show them how to enjoy healthy foods and active play each day. The whole family will benefit when you’re eating well and being active.
Have your family fill their plates with fruit and vegetables, lean meats, low fat dairy, nuts, beans and whole grains. Serve balanced snacks such as grapes and a low fat cheese stick, or almonds and carrot sticks. Enlist older kids to help wash and cut up fruits and veggies so these healthy snacks are ready to eat when hunger hits!
Include your kids in meal planning, shopping or cooking. They’re more likely to jump in and try something new if they were involved along the way. Brainstorm healthy dishes that include the ingredients they like best. Work together on adapting favorite recipes to make them healthier.
Families who eat together tend to have better nutrition. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, have family meals as often as you can. Studies show kids who have family meals eat more fruits and vegetables, get more calcium, and drink less soda than their peers who don’t. Plus it’s a great time to connect on the day’s activities.
Younger kids may need to try new food several times before they accept it. Keep at it. With persistence you can help your kids to eat better now and for a lifetime. And kids are born with a natural love of play and physical activity. Creating family time for active play keeps everybody moving and builds a lasting connection with your kids.
Be aware of virtual playtime vs. physical playtime. Limit screen time—TV, movies, video and computer games—to less than two hours each day by arranging “play dates” or encouraging kids to get outside. Or better yet, pick an activity you can do together!
Be patient as you make changes and start new routines. We are all creatures of habit; be careful not to get overwhelmed by doing too much too soon. Sustained change takes time. Remember that you are helping build healthy patterns to last a lifetime.
Be a voice for healthy food options at school celebrations and in the lunch room. Or request a refresh of concession stand offerings at the pool and at sporting events. Simple changes are a great way to start. You might just inspire the choices that everyone is waiting for!
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota believes that parents play a fundamental role in teaching their kids how to make more nutritious food choices. “My Chat with Chewie” is a brightly illustrated children’s book that makes discussing this topic easy and fun.
Starting these conversations now is essential. More than 62 percent of adult Minnesotans are overweight or obese, which puts them at an increased risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis and colon cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Together, we can prevent our children from facing the same fate. Tools like this book can help parents have conversations that lead to better choices.
“My Chat with Chewie” is part of Blue Cross’ broader public awareness effort to get Minnesotans talking about their everyday choices – and the influence these choices may have on others, especially their children.
You can find more information and tips for making healthier choices at bluecrossmn.com.