Encourage Fitness — Do As I Say And As I Do

Parents influence kids every day with words and actions, and when mom and dad regularly encourage kids to be active, they help kids to appreciate fitness and have fun along the way.

 

Teaching practical life skills is one of the many roles that parents have. Things like how to brush teeth, how to tell time, how to tie shoes, and research now suggests that another one to add to the list is how to be healthy and active.

 

It’s never too late to start a healthy habit, especially with kids. Kids like to move, and though it is highly unlikely that a child goes from couch potato to Olympian, there are several ways parents can influence their children to exercise.

 

While verbal encouragement or logistical support, such as driving kids to soccer practice, is important, parents’ attitudes about health and fitness and their own patterns of physical activity are equally as important, since kids often follow by example.

 

Being active together has shown to have a significant impact on how kids view exercise, but it often goes down as a child’s age goes up.  Younger children are more likely to want to spend time being active with their parents than teenagers, so there may be a window of opportunity to use it before losing it when it comes to co-activity.

 

And even though the sphere of influence on kids can be far and wide from friends to teachers to Sponge Bob, few are as direct and important as parents .

 

Children are well known for their contrary nature. Tell them to do something, and quite often they will do the opposite. So trying to force children to exercise may not be the best strategy.

 

Every parent has his or her way of approaching life lessons, but the idea with fitness is to get children to appreciate being active, and have a little fun along the way. “Because I said so” may work for putting the dishes away, but encouragement, celebrating small victories, and doing things together can be effective ways to motivate kids to get fit and stay active. And no child wants their brain to turn to mush because of too much television.

 

Whether is it sports, riding bikes, a martial arts class, or walking the dog every night, it is important to consistently present each opportunity in a positive light.  It may take a bit of time and patience, but when children find the fun in being active, fitness can become a part of everyday life.

 

When kids are active at a young age, the habit can last throughout their lifetime, and influencing kids to be active at an early age is no different than teaching them the golden rule or respecting their elders. So it’s time to put fitness right up there with teaching children how to ride a bike and that  there’s no hiding a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.

 

October – Think Popping Popcorn!

Yep, October is also popping popcorn month. Did you know popcorn counts as a whole grain? One serving of whole grains equals three cups of popcorn.

Popcorn is the only type of corn that pops. Each kernel of popcorn contains a small drop of water stored inside a circle of soft starch. When harvested, popcorn is dried so that it contains between 13.5-14% moisture, the amount it needs to pop. The soft starch is surrounded by the kernel’s hard outer surface, the hull, which has just the right thickness to allow it to burst open when enough pressure builds inside.

As the kernel heats up, the water expands, creates steam, and cooks the starch inside, turning it into a liquid mass. Pressure builds inside and finally it reaches a point that breaks the hull open. The contents inflate and spill out, cooling immediately and forming the shape we know and love.

Here is a super cool web site all about popcorn: http://www.popcorn.org/. You can watch popcorn popping in super slow motion at the Popcorn Board’s Web site And check out more fun facts, trivia and recipes while you’re there!

My No Junk Food Journey – Want to Come Along?

 

I wrote this post as a participant in the Eat, Play, Love blog carnival hosted by Meals Matter and Dairy Council of California to share ideas on positive and fun ways to teach children healthy eating habits. A list of other registered dietitians and moms who are participating in the carnival will be listed at the bottom of this post or can be found on Meals Matter.

.

If you are reading this on my website, you have probably figured out that I have a thing for fitness and nutrition… okay more of an obsession really.

I also have a shocking secret. I am not proud of this, but it is time for me to come clean. My kids eat Popsicles for breakfast. (I know… GASP) Breakfasts and snacks have become a free for all of low nutrient, high fat, high calorie foods. I still have control over lunches, and they are packed healthy. Dinners are okay too, but I am verging on a short order cook… something I swore I would NEVER DO.

I have been guilty of buying way too many snacky foods, which of course becomes the kid’s first choice food.

But, change is a comin! I decided to throw out every snack food that was unhealthy and replace it with healthy choices. Not a single unhealthy snack is left in our house.

I am the boss. I am the gatekeeper of the food.  Theses are my new daily affirmations, as I embark on the ‘no crappy food zone’ plan.

Being obsessed with my own nutrition, I must practice what I preach.

Kids will eat what’s available. That’s why I must control the supply lines. Kids can’t eat what is not there. A side bonus is that I will not be tempted by the kid’s rice crispy treats anymore (I know… another GASP).

If you want to join me on my no junk food journey, here’s what we will do:

1. Work fruits and vegetables into the daily routine. Be sure you serve a fruit or vegetable at every meal.

2. Make it easy for kids to choose healthy snacks by keeping fruits and vegetables on hand and ready to eat. Other good snacks that my kids love include low-fat yogurt blended with some low fat milk to make a shake/smoothie, peanut butter and apples, or whole-grain crackers and cheese.

3. Choose whole-grain breads and cereals so kids get more fiber. Don’t be fooled by kids’ cereal marketing. Read the ingredients.

4. Be sneak by adding chopped broccoli or green peppers to spaghetti sauce, or mix grated zucchini and carrots into casseroles and soups. Pureeing is also a great way to add veggies. Pureed sweet potatoes go un-noticed in Mac-n-Cheese or chili!

5. Limit sugary drinks, such as soda, juice, and fruit-flavored drinks. Serve water and low-fat milk instead. Make the “juice is for play dates only” rule.

6. Don’t be a short order cook. Repeat… Don’t be a short order cook.
No separate meals.  Keep serving healthy choices until they become familiar and liked.

We can do this.  No Junk Food.

Do you have a shocking secret that you want to share?

Don’t stop here! Join the carnival and read other Eat, Play, Love blogs from dietitians and moms offering the best advice on raising healthy eaters. And if you don’t get enough today, for more positive, realistic and actionable advice from registered dietitian moms, register for the free, live webinar Eat, Play, Love: Raising Healthy Eaters on Wednesday, May 18.

The Best-Kept Secret for Raising Healthy Eaters, Maryann Jacobsen, MS, RD 
Feeding is Love, Jill Castle, MS, RD, LDN 
5 Quick Ways to Prepare Veggies with Maximum Flavor, Dayle Hayes, MS, RD 
The Art of Dinnertime, Elana Natker, MS, RD
Children Don’t Need a Short Order Cook, Christy Slaughter
Cut to the Point – My Foodie Rules, Glenda Gourley
Eat, Play, Love – A Challenge for Families, Alysa Bajenaru, RD
Eat, Play, Love ~ Raising Healthy Eaters, Kia Robertson
Get Kids Cooking, Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RD, CDN  
Kid-Friendly Kitchen Gear Gets Them Cooking, Katie Sullivan Morford, MS, RD 
Kids that Can Cook Make Better Food Choices, Glenda Gourley
Making Mealtime Fun, Nicole Guierin, RD 
My Top Ten Tips for Raising Lifelong Healthy Eaters, EA Stewart, RD
My No Junk Food Journey – Want to Come Along?, Kristine Lockwood
My Recipe for Raising Healthy Eaters: Eat Like the French, Bridget Swinney MS, RD, LD
Playing with Dough and the Edible Gift of Thyme, Robin Plotkin, RD, LD
Picky Eaters Will Eat Vegetables, Theresa Grisanti, MA
Putting the Ease in Healthy Family Eating, Connie Evers, MS, RD, LD
Raising a Healthy Eater, Danielle Omar, MS, RD
Raising Healthy Eaters Blog Carnival & Chat Roundup, Ann Dunaway Teh, MS, RD, LD
Soccer Mom Soapbox, Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD 
Teenagers Can Be Trying But Don’t Give Up, Diane Welland MS, RD
What My Kids Taught Me About Eating Mindfully, Michelle May, MD

Kids Can’t Eat What is Not There

The last few months I have noticed a down hill spiral of eating habits in our house. Breakfasts and snacks became a free for all of low nutrient, high fat, high calorie foods. (Lunches were packed healthy, and dinners became the only really healthy meal that the kids would eat at home) I was guilty of buying too many snacky foods, which became the kids first choice. This of course led to lots of battles.

I decided to throw out every snack food that was unhealthy and replace everything with healthy choices. Not a single unhealthy snack left in our house. But, I did tell the kids that they can have one day a week where they can choose a treat.

It is going on three weeks now, and the kids have not complained once about their snacks and food options. I am kind of surprised, as I thought for sure I would hear a lot of whining about nothing “good to eat”. The best part is that the kids are chowing on all the healthy stuff and loving it.

Kids, especially younger ones, will eat mostly what’s available at home. That’s why it’s important to control the supply lines — the foods that you serve for meals and have on hand for snacks. Kids can’t eat what is not there. A side bonus is that you will not be tempted by your kids snacks.

Here are some basic tips that are great for kids but also for parents:

1. Work fruits and vegetables into the daily routine, aiming for the goal of at least five servings a day. Be sure you serve fruit or vegetables at every meal.

2. Make it easy for kids to choose healthy snacks by keeping fruits and vegetables on hand and ready to eat. Other good snacks that my kids love include low-fat yogurt blended with some low fat milk to make a shake/smoothie, peanut butter and capples or celery, or whole-grain crackers and cheese.

3. Serve lean meats and other good sources of protein, such as fish, eggs, beans, and nuts.Choose whole-grain breads and cereals so kids get more fiber. Don’t be fooled by kids’ cereal marketing. Read the ingredients.

4. Limit fat intake by avoiding deep-fried foods and choosing healthier cooking methods, such as broiling, grilling, roasting, and steaming. Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products.

5. Limit fast food and low-nutrient snacks, such as chips and candy. But don’t completely ban their favorite snacks. Instead, make them a special treat, so kids don’t feel deprived.

6. Limit sugary drinks, such as soda, juice, and fruit-flavored drinks. Serve water and low-fat milk instead

Rss Feed Tweeter button Facebook button Technorati button Reddit button Myspace button Linkedin button Webonews button Delicious button Digg button Flickr button Stumbleupon button Newsvine button Youtube button