There isn’t one correct formula for raising a child. No matter what books you read or how many people you talk to, the experience will always come with unexpected surprises. One thing you can do, however, is teach your child how to be healthy in an otherwise unhealthy world. With processed ingredients, added chemicals, and genetically modified foods, your child is prone to developing a variety of health complications based on his/her diet alone.
The first step of raising a healthy child is educating yourself on the wide variety of healthy, nutritional sources that are available. For instance, meat doesn’t have to be the way your child gets protein. Many plant-based foods like sprouts, broccoli, kale, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, spinach, and peas are rich in protein and other essential nutrients. Similarly, you can get calcium from kiwis, oranges, leafy green vegetables, blackberries, kumquats, or beans instead of dairy products.
Some of the leading causes of death¾including heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes¾start develop during childhood. Whether you want to raise your child cruelty-free, or you just want them to avoid the unhealthy Standard American Diet, keeping your child healthy and active will only benefit him/her in the long run. Below are tips to help raise a healthy child.
#1: A Little Persistence Never Hurts
Any parent knows that it may take a few tries to get your child to like something new. This doesn’t mean that you should give up or be forceful. It does mean that creativity is your friend. If your child won’t eat carrots but likes sweet potatoes, try grating both of them, make them into a patties, and sauté them in olive oil. You can incorporate greens like spinach into fruit smoothies, and avocados can be a great base for homemade chocolate pudding. Keep trying new things and something will eventually stick.
#2: Pair The Old With The New
When introducing new foods to your child’s diet, it is beneficial to pair old favorites with the new ingredient(s). If you notice that a new vegetable isn’t making it onto the fork, suggest to put it on the same bite as something your child likes. Use a sauce that your child likes to hide the ingredient in a dish. Soups, pastas, or roasted vegetable medleys can be great ways to mask the inherent flavor of an ingredient with flavors your child enjoys.
#3: Always Have Snacks
Snacks are crucial for kids because you never know when hunger will strike. You don’t want to be out with your child and have to resort to a fast food restaurant. It is a good idea to always carry fresh fruit, raw nuts like almonds or cashews, carrot sticks, or even granola. These snacks can also be placed in a child’s school lunch as well. Celery and almond butter or pasta salad can be great lunch options.
#4: Engage With Your Child About Health
It can be hard to deny kids the things that they want, especially if they see that other kids are allowed to have them. Engage with them about health and why it is important to make healthy food decisions. Play a game with your child at the grocery store and tell him/her to pick a fruit/vegetable, plus a new item, which he/she hasn’t tried before, for lunches. It is important to allow something indulgent every once in a while, though. Whether you are cooking, buying groceries, cleaning up, eating, or choosing recipes, make it into a game with your kids to keep them engaged for a healthier future.
#5: Stay Active With Your Child
Keeping your child active is just as important as a healthy diet. Rather then sticking your child in front of a game system, TV, or phone, go out to parks, schedule beach or snow days (given the time of year), go hiking, or visit interactive museums. Use online resources to your advantage to search for fun things to do with your kids in your given city.