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Be a Role Model

Jessica and Hala

As parents, it is our responsibility to lead by example and show our kids what it means to live a healthy lifestyle.  With television, computer games, and the mass marketing targeting kids on what’s “cool” and what’s not, this can be very challenging for a parent. 

 

In September of 2009, the USDA published 10 tips for being a healthy role model for children.  Despite all the outside influences, one of the things the article said really struck me… You are the most important influence on your child.  Children look to their parents for the truth, and for what is important for them as individuals.  Check out these tips and learn what you can do to be a better role model for your children…

 

1)    Lead by example.  Eat fruits, veggies, and whole grains with meals or snacks.

 

2)    Go food shopping together.  The grocery store creates a wonderful visual learning environment children to learn about the different food groups and how to make healthy choices.  Let them choose what fruits you have for the week, for example.

 

3)    Get creative in the kitchen.  Let kids help with a dish and name it after them (McKensie’s salad).  Cut food into fun shapes.  Make your own trail mixes.  Give them the opportunity to help!  My daughter is only 18 months old, but she had a blast helping me put salad into a bag, and place chopped broccoli on a roasting pan!

 

4)    Offer the same foods for everyone.  Plan family meals with the same food for everyone – the “short-order cook” is not helpful in the long run.

 

5)    Reward with attention, not food.  Show your love with hugs and kisses.  Choose not to offer sweets as rewards.  It lets your child think sweets or desserts are better than other foods. 

 

6)    Focus on each other at the table.  Ask your child what was the best part of their day.  Turn off the television and take phone calls later.  Try to make meals a stress-free time.

 

7)    Listen to your child.  If your child says he/she is hungry, offer a small healthy snack, even if it’s not a scheduled meal time.  Offer choices – “what would you like for dinner: broccoli or cauliflower?” instead of “Do you want broccoli for dinner?”

 

8)    Limit screen time.  Allow no more than 2 hours of TV a day.  Get up and move during commercials.

 

Running our first 5K!

Running our first 5K!

9)    Encourage physical activity.  Make it fun for the whole family.  Involve your child(ren) in the planning.  Participate instead of sitting on the side lines. 

 

10) Be a good food role model.  Try new foods yourself, and describe the taste, texture, and smell.  This may help peak your child’s curiosity.  Offer only one new food at a time, and offer it at the beginning of the meal when your child is very hungry.  Avoid lecturing/forcing your child to eat.

 

Check out my last post on Raising a Healthy Family – for tips from our Special Guest presenter, Dr. Jo Zurbrugg.

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