Most families crave being healthier, which in turn leads to being happier in every aspect of life. Yet with constant marketing from TV and media telling us it’s “okay to drink soda sometimes” or “fast food isn’t that bad… in moderation,” we can be left confused. Luckily, we can take steps to get our children going in the right direction by giving them alternatives that are just as delicious as they are nutritious.
Here are a handful of ways to get your clan jazzed on being healthy:
1.) Get rid of soda, and replace it with healthier, homemade alternatives.
One of the primary reasons kids love soda is its high sugar and caffeine content. It is integral to just say no and to find other beverages for your family. Juicing at home is an excellent enzyme and nutrient rich alternative to store bought varieties that are from concentrate or that contain flavorings and other chemicals. Making fresh smoothies with your children is also a fun alternative, and kids love the vivid colors that wild berries or vibrant greens make.
2.) Make one night of the week Family Health Night, and discuss your individual needs.
Lots of families enjoy a “family night” where parents and children spend time together, perhaps watching movies or playing games. Why not also make it a night to discuss how you felt during the week? This is a superb way for kids to identify how bad foods can create a lack of happiness or lethargy. For example, did they eat too much pizza at a friend’s house and then feel too tired to do homework? Or did they notice how great they felt after making a coconut smoothie with Dad on Monday? This helps get them aware of how the food choices they make affect how they feel, as well as their overall health.
3.) Inject some fun into nutrition by getting out in the garden!
Gardening is a great way to bond with our kids while showing them where our food comes from, as well as what herbs can be used to heal and help protect us from illness. Nutrition that is taught in schools can be boring (at best) and inaccurate (at worst), so gardening is a better alternative; it can potentially ignite in them a desire to study the subject of phytonutrients or herbalism more in depth later on in life. Who doesn’t want a holistic MD in the house?
4.) Create a Wellness Journal
One spin on standard journaling is to make a Wellness Journal that you keep to record what healthy foods your children enjoy, healthy recipes you’d like to experiment with, as well as reactions on Family Night. Has someone shown an interest in cooking or gardening, and you need integrate that into your family's schedule? This is a great way to keep track. It can also be fun to do with the kids by using pictures from magazines to make it visually pleasing.
5.) Inspire your budding chef
My family and I are lucky to live on an island in South East Asia, where we have ample exotic fruits to choose from. But funny enough, we had many of the same fruits and vegetables available to us when we lived in the States. Asian and European specialty stores, as well as health food stores, carry unique, antioxidant-rich foods (from saffron to goji berries) that you can experiment with. Raisins can be replaced by goji in muffins, granola, trail mix, etc., and schizandra berries can make a delicious and simple iced tea. By including kids in the kitchen and while shopping, they will be enthusiastic about dietary changes you make.
It’s an error to believe that children dislike healthy foods. The real issue is that they are not exposed to them enough. The great news is that their natural excitement for life can be the fuel to create permanent changes in your family’s health and wellness.