Keeping your children healthy and happy throughout every stage of their life is something you as a parent always strive for. Fortunately, there are always things you can do, even when your little ones become teenagers and stop listening to you as much as they used to. One of the ways to ensure the better overall well-being of your teenagers is to entice them to eat healthy food and to engage in physical activity on a daily level. Here are some ideas to help you instill healthy habits in your teenagers.
1. Be a Positive Role Model
You can talk to your child extensively about the importance of nutrition and physical activity, but if they see that you don’t follow your own advice, they won’t really be inclined to follow it either. This is why it’s crucial that you set a good example for them. First of all, make sure all of the meals in your house are nutritious and healthy and that you eat them as well. Base them on lean protein, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains.
While you shouldn’t forbid an occasional candy bar or a bag of chips, stock your fridge and pantry with plenty of healthy snacks, like nuts and fresh fruit, so that your kids have a healthy alternative when they want to grab something between meals. Similarly, take long walks, preferably with your children, or start exercising yourself, showing them that you truly believe it’s important and that you’re not asking them to do something you personally don’t. Not only will you be healthier as well, but if you’re making an effort, your children will be more likely to do so, too.
2. Start Early
Eating and workout habits are just like all other habits, meaning that your child will adopt them more easily if they’re fostered from an early age. Of course, this doesn’t mean that, once your child reaches a certain age, there’s nothing else you can do. It merely means that you should start straight away.
Talk to them, answer all of their food-related questions and encourage them to practice a sport the moment they show any interest in it. If they don’t show interest on their own, perhaps you can suggest some fun activities that you think they might like. If your children don’t want to talk about these things, find ways to approach the topic in a more compelling manner. Maybe asking other mothers for advice would be helpful as well. Even if you don’t have any like-minded mums in your proximity, you can always find a good motherhood app online, where you can learn from other mothers’ experiences. Look for apps that cater to any style of parenting and that will provide you with different hacks for being a better mum, from the very moment you get pregnant onwards.
3. Make Eating and Exercising Pleasant
If you make eating healthy and working out an obligation for your children, something that they have to do against their will, just because you told them to, they’ll perceive it as unpleasant and will try to get out of it whenever the opportunity arises. However, if you make meal and workout time pleasurable for them, they won’t have a problem with it. In fact, they’ll look forward to it. Start with inviting them to help you prepare the meals or even go shopping for ingredients with you. Children usually want to participate in such activities and they’ll be more open to trying anything that they took part in making.
Next, try to always have your meals as a family. Talking through dinner can strengthen your ties and provide you with more insight into what’s going on in your children’s lives. In addition, while having meals this way, you’ll all eat more slowly, which is helpful in its own way. When you eat fast, you’ll often end up overeating before your brain realizes you’ve had enough, so it’s always good to catch your breath between bites. As far as physical activity goes, you can do that as a family, too. Going to the park and throwing a frisbee together, riding a bike, or spending a day swimming at the local pool can show your children you’re just as invested in maintaining the healthy lifestyle you’re trying to promote, while the time spent together can also allow you to bond.
4. Plan Your Children’s Meals and Activities
Eating healthy won’t be that hard for your kids when you make everything available for them. This means that, if you have a balanced, nutritious meal ready when your child is hungry, they won’t have to reach for anything unhealthy instead. Also, you should learn what kind of food is served at your kids’ school. If you’re not happy with what they can choose from at their canteen, you can always pack their lunch, so that you know what they eat at school is good for them. This is a good idea for another reason. Namely, the portions at school or those of fast-food meals can be unnecessarily big and loaded with empty calories and you don’t want your child to eat that. Next, try to have all your meals at the same time each day.
When you plan such things and you stick to those plans, you and your children will form a habit of eating at a certain time, which consequently means you can avoid skipping meals, eating too late at night, or having too big of snacks between meals. Finally, if your kids have a sports practice, be there to drive them or ask somebody to do it for you, so that they don’t miss out on the chance to be physically active. In order for your kids to have good eating and exercising habits, you should first embrace them yourself. That way you’ll lead by example, rather than forcing something on your children that they don’t think you truly believe in.
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