Keep Your Kids (And Yourself) Healthy This Year
The New Year is time to set resolutions such as eating healthier and losing weight, but don’t forget about the kiddos. Good nutrition and physical exercise is just as important to your children as it is for you. Now let me guess, you have the worlds pickiest eater that refuses to eat anything except chicken nuggets or mac and cheese. Well guess what; even the pickiest eaters can be healthy eaters. Now, obviously this won’t happen overnight, it will take a little time and effort. But there are a couple of things that you can do to ensure success.
Make it fun: Get your children (or whole family) involved. Let them pick out produce at the grocery store, or help you make dinner. When it comes to exercise, keep them active without actually calling it exercise. Make up games or obstacle courses, even video games that are physically active.
Start slow: Introduce new foods slowly, try one new item each meal and gradually increase over time. Same for exercising; start with 2-3 days per week for 30 min and gradually increase frequency and duration.
Be a role model: Your kids look up to you, as soon as you moan and groan about exercising or wrinkle your nose when trying new foods they will too.
Keep the treats: We are all human and occasionally we want a piece of candy or dessert. Cutting out sweets entirely is unrealistic; the key is to limit the frequency and portion size. Remember that this is a lifestyle change.
Cooking for kids that are constantly on-the-go can be difficult. Parents often turn to frozen foods or boxed dinners to make dinner quickly and easily, but your child often doesn’t get the proper proteins and nutrients he/she should be per day. Here are a couple of ideas to make your kids’ favorite foods healthy:
- Pizza: Try using a whole wheat pita sliced in half and let your kids make their own. Offer toppings like baked chicken, ground turkey, tomato sauce, barbeque sauce, low fat mozzarella cheese (remember portions here), spinach or diced veggies. Let them be creative, they will be more apt to eat it.
- Hamburgers: Try using ground turkey and mix chopped spinach in with the meat before making the patties. Top with a fun ketchup design and your kids won’t even know they are eating spinach.
- Spaghetti: This is an easy one to load up on the veggies. Again, try mixing in chopped spinach to your meat before cooking (preferably ground turkey). Use whole wheat pasta and add pureed veggies (squash, spinach, zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers) to your tomato sauce.
- Quesadillas: Use whole wheat tortillas and let your kids make their own using black beans, corn, chicken, re-fried beans, low fat cheese, diced tomatoes, and salsa. You could even top with diced avocados or homemade guacamole (smashed avocados and salsa).
- Chicken nuggets: Make your own coating by mixing crushed rice cereal squares or bread crumbs, seasoning and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese. Cut your chicken into desired size, dip in coating mixture and bake in the oven.