“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
— James Arthur Baldwin
In episode 26 of the Half Size Me show, I mentioned an article I read that explained how to encourage your kids to eat healthy. It reminded me that many times, as busy moms, we can forget to provide healthy snacks for our kids.
This happened to me while on a recent trip to the grocery store with my own kiddos. Usually, I bring bananas, grapes, or some other fruit for them to snack on. But because I was in a hurry, I forgot. So I told them we’d get a snack while we were at the store.
Now, every once in awhile, I’ll buy them a pre-packaged, trail mix-type snack. They like it, and because it has nuts and raisins and there’s minimal chocolate in it, I’m okay with it too.
Once we were in the store, I told them they could pick out one of those snacks, but Max, my oldest, turned to me and said, “Mommy, my tummy has been upset and I really don’t want that.”
Surprised, I asked him, “Okay, what would you like then?” I fully expected to hear back requests like Graham crackers, or goldfish crackers, or another typical processed “kid-friendly” snack food. But instead, he said, “Mommy, I want fruit.”
I was floored.
I realized that, for the first time since starting my own weight loss journey, I was seeing the impact my choices were having on my kids.
I’ve mentioned before my concerns about childhood obesity. Since I was an obese child myself, I don’t want my kids (or anybody else’s kids) to ever have to deal with that pain. But because of the healthy food choices I’ve been making over past few years, my influence is having a positive effect on my kids. It’s a stepping stone process.
Look at it this way, once you can get your own eating under control, and show that you’re taking care of yourself, it will have a direct impact on the current and future health of your children.
Remember this: You’re teaching your children every time they see you.
Every time they see you reach for something in the pantry. Every time they see what you are putting on your plate. You are teaching them.
That single moment with my son made all the nights I didn’t have ice cream worth it. It made all the times I could have had pizza but didn’t worth it. It made all my good choices worthwhile, because it’s not just about me.
And it’s not just about you either.
It’s not just you who is affected by these major changes you are making. Your children are going to be affected too. What you’re doing is worthwhile because you’re planting the seeds for your child’s future health.
Here’s a list of 7 ways you can help encourage healthy eating habits in your child (inspired by the post “Healthy Eating for Children“):
- Have dinner together as a family.
- Avoid putting too much pressure on your child to eat.
- Don’t comment about the types or amounts of food your child is eating.
- Make healthy food choices when preparing meals, because your kids will follow your example.
- Be consistent with meal time every day, if possible.
- Offer your kids healthy meal options often enough to prevent them from getting too hungry.
- Make sure that, during family meal time, you leave off the T.V. and that everyone talks and enjoys each other.