Do you resolve every January, “This year I’m going to feed my kids right,” only to see everyone back on a fast-food diet by February? You can raise healthy eaters—starting any time of year—but there’s more to the recipe than good intentions.
- Eat Healthy Yourself
If your own typical breakfast consists of coffee and doughnuts, kids won’t take you seriously about the value of whole grains and fresh fruit—plus, you’ll sap your energy and will for selling the good stuff.
- Learn Some New Recipes
Fresh approaches can breathe life into dull routines, so check on new ways to prepare old favorites (and non-favorites—if anyone in your family “hates vegetables,” it may be because he’s tasted only overcooked ones). Invite children to suggest recipe ideas of their own.
- Let the Kids Help Cook
Take children’s involvement beyond a say in what’s served: even preschoolers can beat eggs or fetch ingredients from the refrigerator, and most kids are eager to eat dishes they personally helped prepare. And while meal preparation may get backed up initially, it will go faster than ever once everyone masters the group approach.
- Make Eating a Family Activity
Even if you can’t get everyone together for every meal, set a rule that whoever’s home eats at the table, not in the TV room or at the homework desk. (Half-minded gulping is no good for anyone’s digestion.)
- Clear the Table of Distractions
Eating together has negligible value when everyone stays focused on their own smartphones. Commit yourself to appreciating the advantages of true, conversational family dining, because if you want your children to follow a “no outside activities” rule, you’ll have to observe it yourself.
- Pare Down Your Calendar
If your family just “doesn’t have time” for shared leisurely meals, check where else your time is going and what “unnecessaries” you can give up to make room for longer dinner hours. (Start by cutting out random online surfing and mindless TV watching—both of which also feed digestion-unfriendly tension.)
- Prepare Meals in Advance
One common contributor to limited cooking time: work schedules and commutes. Fortunately, you can have your job and home-cooked meals too. Use a slow cooker, or make a few jumbo-sized recipes every other Saturday and freeze them in meal-size portions (healthier than most store-bought microwave meals).
- Stir Fitness Into the Mix
All healthy eating and no exercise makes a body flabby. Besides encouraging the kids to play outdoors, schedule long walks and outdoor games for the whole family. In good weather, turn family meals into picnics and combine good food with the advantages of the outdoors.
- Beware the “Day After Perfect”
It always happens: after a great streak of serving healthy meals daily, you’ll eventually rationalize “I’m so tired” and pick up fried cheeseburgers. The “morning after,” don’t listen to that sneaky whisper that says you blew it and might as well resume old habits: start a new healthy-meals streak right there.
- Serve With Optimism
Bring the kids their food with a positive attitude. When you genuinely expect them to like it—and when you let anything left on the plate pass without comment—the finicky-eating habit rarely sticks around for long.
WE FEED CHILDREN’S MINDS AND BODIES
Contact Shady Oak to ask about our culinary programs and events, as well as our active-learning approach that emphasizes life skills and soft skills alongside academic skills. We value project-based learning as a means of teaching the whole child to take initiative, cope, and become a participating member of society. Find out how our approach will bring out the best in the unique individual each of your children is!
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!