As one of the most obese countries in the world, it’s time that we start downsizing waistlines and moving the meter toward healthy habits. How can we make a difference? It can start with our most treasured legacy: our kids. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of children with obesity in the United States has more than tripled since 1970 to about one in five school-aged children. So if we begin instilling healthy habits early, we can create lifelong conscious eaters.
How exactly do you get your kids to put down the bag of chips and pick up the right stuff instead? Here are a few pointers from Orr’s:
1. Guide your family’s choices, rather than dictate their meals
It may be easier said than done, but you should try to guide your family into making healthier choices. Consider making it a common conversation to discuss why certain food choices are more beneficial than others.
Then put that stuff in your pantry.
Bring the nutritious stuff to your home and leave the rest at the grocery store. This way your kids can have choices of what to eat at home but aren’t necessarily given the option to eat junk.
2. Encourage your children to eat slowly.
Slow and steady wins the race at meal time. Promoting this type of eating allows for complete digestion, which allows the body to determine hunger and fullness more accurately. When your body can make this decision, it avoids overeating and embraces impulse control.
3. Have family dinners as often as you can.
This one can be tough to navigate. Juggling an entire family’s schedule is a full-time job in itself. If you can’t have dinner together every night, start by choosing two days out of the week, where you are fully in control of what’s at the table. Making time for pleasant conversations, and a good family checkup helps to curb anxiety, as well as the association of stress to eating food, which is a common coping strategy.
4. Get Your Kids Involved in the Process
Here’s where you can truly make healthy eating habits a lifelong commitment. When you start shopping for meals together, you can learn their food preferences and teach them how to prepare their favorite meals. Not only does this kind of involvement help encourage the best food choices, but also gives children a sense of accomplishment. When a child understands the process from start to finish, they are more likely to gain a better understanding of its importance.
5. Pay Attention to Portion Size
We’ve seen all of the latest diet tricks and trends, and all of them have an excellent tactic to maintaining a healthy weight: portion control. Pay attention to food labels and prepare meals for your children accordingly.
WebMD has a great tip: if kids want seconds, have them wait 15 minutes before adding extra to their plate. The additional wait time allows for proper digestion of their meal, allowing for a more accurate evaluation of hunger.
Ready to make the commitment to a healthier generation? Consider bringing the whole family to Orr’s to pick out their favorite fruits, veggies, and snacks. Because everyone is allowed to have a sweet tooth, browse the bakery and have a “treat yourself” moment. Make healthy habits a family affair, and start crossing things off your grocery list at Orr’s today.