How We Keep Our Kids Snacking Healthy
This post is sponsored by the American Heart Association Healthy For Good movement. All opinions are, of course, my own. The views, opinions and positions expressed within this post belong to Miss Frugal Mommy and do not necessarily represent those of The American Heart Association unless explicitly stated.
Growing up without my grandparents was very difficult and I remember all too often feeling left out when other people would talk about their grandparents. Sadly I lost all four of my grandparents either before I was born or at a very young age. They lived in an age where TV dinners were the go-to meal and health was rarely discussed. They didn’t have access to the same resources we have about making proper decisions when it comes to food and our health. They made very poor health choices throughout their lifetime and as a result, I lost three of my grandparents to sudden heart attacks. To make matters worse, my father has had three heart attacks over the past decade. Something has to change.
How We Keep Our Kids Snacking Healthy
As a mother of three children ages 2, 6 and 11, I know how difficult it can be to keep them on a healthy diet. So many outside influences like school, birthday parties and family gatherings expose them to unhealthy food. I have spent a good part of parenting thinking I needed to simply declare “No! You can’t eat that chocolate cake!” which isn’t the most effective tactic. Instead, I realized that there are simple and positive ways to make healthy change, and I wanted to share those ideas with you today.
1: Lead by example
I realized that leading by example was so incredibly important. I mean just think about it, how many times have you found a moment of quite, sat down with a plate of food or snack and suddenly little footsteps come running towards you. If you are making healthy choices, your children are going to pick up on that. If you are cooking healthy meals and purchasing healthier snacks, they will adjust to those types of foods.
2: Allow them to make their own decisions
Allowing my children to make their own decisions when it comes to food choices has been eye opening. Whether they are assisting me with choosing new healthy recipes, going to the grocery store to pick out healthy foods, or cooking with you in the kitchen, keeping them involved is extremely important! This allows them to feel pride in the choices they make and the meals we create together.
3: Praise, don’t punish
Praising my children for making healthy food choices and not punishing them for making poor choices was a lesson I learned. I am a firm believer that as long as you are living an overall healthy lifestyle, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy not-so-healthy foods in moderation. It is unrealistic to expect your child to make good choices all of the time. I still slip and make poor food choices every so often. Live and learn.
4: Educate your children
I have found that teaching my two older children WHY certain foods are unhealthy and the effects they can have is incredibly effective. Children are never satisfied with a simple “no” so give them all the facts! YouTube videos are really great and we can always find something educational that talks about the bad ingredients and such.
5: Provide healthy food in arm’s reach
While my two year old can’t really grasp the reasons behind why some foods are healthy and some are “bad,” there are other ways to encourage her to make healthy choices. I stock the lowest shelf in the refrigerator (at her eye level) with cartons of fruit, veggies, cheese and other healthy foods. The pantry shelves that she can reach are stored with healthy snacks that she can choose. This rule can apply for all ages really, but since toddlers are very stubborn and craving independence, this rule applies especially well to them! If you’re looking for fresh ideas for healthier shopping, check out this post on staple ingredients for quick healthy meals and this one on healthy post-play snacks.
6: Find inspiration from the experts
All of this sounds good and well, but where does one find time and inspiration to maintain a healthy lifestyle? I’m a mom of three, my husband travels a lot for work, and we live hundreds of miles from family! The internet is exploding with information and it can be sometimes hard to narrow it down to one reliable source. I have had really great luck with AHA’s Healthy For Good website! They offer an extensive suite of recipes, videos, and editorial/infographic health content.
The Healthy For Good website is a rich resource for healthy living content! I am really excited to share with you that June is National Fresh Fruits and Veggie Month, so this is the perfect time to get that inspiration you need. Healthy For Good focuses on the following 4 pillars:
- EAT SMART (smart shopping, cooking, and label reading)
- ADD COLOR (eating healthier by adding colorful fruits and vegetables to your meals)
- MOVE MORE (becoming more active)
- BE WELL (whole body health; including mindfulness, stress reduction, wellness)
I highly encourage you to join the Healthy For Good movement and get your whole family on a path towards health and happiness. AHA’s ultimate goal is not to just tell people what to do, but show people how to do it!