eating healthy foodAs the need for two incomes has become more necessary many families are finding it difficult to make healthy choices. Parents are working more and their children are hooked on digital “babysitters”. However, with a little preparation, parents can promote healthy lifestyles for themselves and their kids.

Plan ahead.

Unlike pre-packaged and frozen meals, healthy meal options take some preparation. The first step in providing nutritionally-sound foods should include creating an actual menu before writing the shopping list. Knowing what side dishes will be served with which entrees will ensure that your family is enjoying not just healthy, but rational meals. No one wants to get to the end of their groceries and discover they have some strange combination of dishes to serve for dinner.

It is also important to remember to read nutrition labels for serving suggestions. Many nutrition experts agree that measuring, counting, or weighing, each item is the best way to be sure that everyone is getting exactly what they need. Serving sizes may be altered when appropriate, usually in cases of illness, allergy, or disease.

Grow your own.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a lot of space for a little gardening, and the practice of growing your own food can be enlightening. Beginner vegetable gardens should feature crops that are easy to grow. This will not only take less time and effort for busy parents, but success can keep children interested in the process.

Also, gardens are located outside and sometimes involve heavy lifting or other hard work. This is important to a child’s development as it will instill a sense of pride and work ethic that can easily be lost. Gardening can even be a good bonding technique for parents and children in foster care.

Limit digital time.

Browsing Facebook and seeing countless images of children on tablets and smartphones is a little disheartening. It sometimes seems as though children are using these devices from birth. Children as young as 3-years-old can be found at the playground, but instead of climbing on the jungle gym they are sitting next to their mothers on the bench with a phone in their hands.

Luckily, parents have some control with new apps that limit screen time for their children. These parental control settings allow parents to set limits on their children’s’ devices. They offer different settings for weekdays and weekends to account for necessary school night activities or provide a little extra when the kids have more free time.

Be an active example.

Parents may be busy, but they should never be too busy to live an active life. Exercise in conjunction with healthy eating can not only keep the weight off, but will also stave off other medical conditions such as heart disease and Type II Diabetes. Not only that, children learn by example and parents are their number one teachers.

Parents can promote physical activity in their children with as little as 30 minutes of movement. Any moderate-intensity activity can be useful including walking, dancing, gardening, biking, or even household chores. It is important for exercise to be altered to fit each person’s capabilities and any limitations should be considered. However, doctors have not yet found any medical issue that may be worsened with the right kind of exercise.

So, while it may be hard for parents to find the time for meal planning and activity, it is important for them to do so. If nothing else, these practices can have a positive lifelong impact on the routines of our nation’s future adults.

Author: Children First FFA

Published: April 3, 2017

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