Besides the obvious of teaching your kids kindness and compassion, I’m talking about the basics of living healthy. The prevalence of children who are overweight or obese is still on the upswing. What ensues as potential consequences is a host of health issues including diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, increased risk of asthma and cognitive impairment. Our kids deserve better. We have a responsibility to ensure that our loved ones are given the best possible start and the education they need to live a long, healthy life. It’s never to early, or to late to make changes to your kid’s lifestyle and habits. Start by being a healthy example and a healthful living advocate.
1. Make sure your kids are getting monounsaturated fats everyday. Olive oil and olives, nuts and nut butters and avocados are all sources of healthy, monounsaturated fats. Kids need a certain amount of fat in their diet for growth and brain development. In addition, fat helps a person feel full and satisfied. Make it a good fat.
2. Eliminate sugar. It has no redeeming qualities. Sugar is simply an addiction that leads to weight gain, inflammation, and a potential myriad of medical issues. Sugar compromises your immune system leaving you, and in this case your children, more susceptible to getting sick. Your kids are not deprived if they don’t have Tasty Cakes in their lunchbox.
3. Cut down on meat. Statistics show, the longest living people on the planet eat only small amounts of meat, if any. Use meat as the compliment to a meal rather than the star. Instead of a giant steak with a small side salad, make a giant salad with some chicken slices on top.
4. Serve real food. We’re all busy. It’s not easy on a hectic schedule to create fresh, home-cooked meals. But, do it when you can and teach your children the difference between real and packaged food.
5. If you live close enough, let your kids walk or bike to school, and home again. Why wouldn’t you? Life was different when I was a kid. We arrived at school early to play on the playground. We had gym class everyday and ran through the neighborhood all evening. Those days are long gone. Changes in curriculum no longer include daily physical education. Kids can’t arrive on the school premises early due to insurance limitations. Video games are standard nighttime activity. Consequently, kids are not getting enough exercise on a daily basis. Let them get to school, and home again, on their own power. And Mom, they won’t melt if it’s raining.
As your children get older, and head out on their own, they’ll be able to make healthy choices for themselves, and will want to. My eighteen year old never drinks soda or goes for fast food. He does opt for a quick frozen pizza now and then when I don’t provide food, but will choose a bowl of nuts over potato chips. My fifteen year old is into the novelty of soda right now, since we never have it in the house. But he also knows not to have it more than once a week. And give my ten-year old a side of olives with her meal and she’s happy. She has learned to stop asking to drive to school just because everyone else in the neighborhood is.