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October 8, 2012 11:34 AM
What do you do to teach your children healthy habits? My little ones are 3 and 2 and I'm trying to bring them up with healthy habits for eating, being active, emotionally and just overall. Would love to know what other moms/dads out there are doing!
  29504734
October 8, 2012 12:17 PM
I'm learning this myself, so I'm trying to pass what I learn onto my kids. My parents always made me finish what was on my plate, and take seconds and reward us with food. Hard habits to break. I'm trying to NOT do that with my kids. Give them a variety of healthy options and lots of physical family friendly activities.
  20833821
October 8, 2012 12:22 PM
we feed our son as much veggies and fruits as he'll eat, don't make him eat if he's not hungry, and don't have sugary snacks around or available to him (he's 21 months FWIW).
October 8, 2012 12:33 PM
Good topic. heart

My son is four so I involve him in my exercise. He'll ride his bike while I run. I enrolled him in martial arts and we haven't missed a class so he's really starting to pick up on it! It's the cutest watching 3-4 year old little ninjas! Love it.

I brought him to a few lifting and crossfit competitions so he can see some 'big guys' in action. He loved that. He went to my first 5K and met me at the finish line. That was an awesome moment.

We eat really healthy too. That part is easy because I introduced good eating habits early on so I didn't have to switch him. I got lucky with a child who likes to try different foods. I know when kids are food picky it's tough!

You have to set the example by being the example. Huge motivator for me and makes me want to keep going, for him. He's my best motivation by far!
October 8, 2012 12:36 PM
I do involve my kids. The eat what I feed them and I have always made sure they were given healthy meals and snacks. When I used to run (before twins) they all came running with me and my husband. They know about calories and the nastiness of processed foods and sugar. I think I have given them a pretty good start.
October 8, 2012 12:40 PM
I have 4 kids and I make a healthy meal for breakfast and dinner (only 1; I am not a restaurant), and I pack lunches for the youngest 3. Everyone has 2 choices: take it or leave it.

This does not always please everyone, but too bad. For example, last night I made this:

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chickpea-spinach-curry-10000000354461/

(Chickpea spinach curry) over brown rice, with 1/2 fresh pear and fresh raspberries. Served the kids 1 small Hawaiian roll each too. I've made this before and my husband, 2 of our kids, and I really like it. Husband bought 3 large chocolate chip cookies to split for dessert.

The 14 and 4 year olds gobbled it, but the 11 and 9-year olds are not fans of this dish (again, too bad). So the 11 year old ate only his fruit and roll. The 9-y-o chose to pick out all the spinach and as much of the tomatoes as he could (ha!) and ate about 3/4 of his serving. He got dessert.

Advice:

1. Cook healthy, even if you're tired. This takes planning, but anyone can do it. Even a plate of spaghetti with low-cal marinara is better than fast food. Always have fresh and frozen fruit stocked -- serve it with the meal on the plate.

2. If they don't eat, fine. Don't give in. You are the parent. No dessert.

3. Speaking of dessert, DO NOT buy boxes of things and keep in the house. If you must have it, buy individual cookies at a bakery, or individual ice cream cups - just 1 per person. Don't whine that it's expensive. What cost keeping yourself and your family healthy?? Don't pay for your discount giant tubs of ice cream in the freezer with blood pressure medicine. If you bake, cut your recipes in half, and/or freeze cookie dough, or baked goods and take out individual servings.

4. Exercise with your kids and on your own - bikes, walks, swimming, baseball, whatever. Make them all do something even when they whine. They'll eventually stop whining and thank you later. Trust me, I know this is hard -- I have a "quitter".

5. Explain why healthy foods are healthy and unhealthy foods are unhealthy. Don't give in to "special treats", or "just this once" -- it is not a treat to put garbage into your body or your kid's body.

blessings.
Edited by sleepytexan On October 8, 2012 12:45 PM
October 8, 2012 12:40 PM
We do a lot of outdoor activities together, especially hiking, going for walks and swimming.

I don't serve desserts after meals, but on rare occasions serve a fruit salad or angel food cake with strawberries. Snacks are fruits, yogurt or low fat crackers (cheese its). I never allowed my kids to have sodas when they were young, however when we go out to picnics or functions, I do give them the option of choosing them now. Since they never got used to the taste, they don't desire it. Both usually opt for water, occasionally a juice box if it's available.

I try to avoid keeping junk food in the house, but do teach the kids that it's ok in moderation. I don't want them to think that it's evil, nor do I want them to go out and "binge" on it when it is available.
October 8, 2012 1:19 PM
I talk to my girls a lot about healthy choices. I have them involved in meal planning, especially their school lunches. I ask them what they want and then have them build a healthy lunch around that. So "I want turkey." "OK-what fruit and veggies do you want? Do you want crackers or bread with it?"
I also have taught them about artificial flavors and colors. I rarely buy them anything with those things in them. I think I got to my oldest daughter. She was at a friends house and was offered SUnny Delight, saw the label and asked her friends mom "Does this say artificial flavors on it?" The mom said yes and she told her "I cannot have this. It has artificial flavors. I'll just have water." Part of me was embarassed and the other part of me was proud of her.
As far as working out goes, they have a pair of 2 lb dumbbells I let them use when I work out. I know weight training isn't great for a 5 and 7 yo, but at 2 lbs, I figure their backpacks weigh more than that, so no harm, no foul and I help them with form. We also live close to school, so we walk to and from school about 98% of the time(except Monday mornings when I have to be there at 7:30 am and when it is pouring rain-which is maybe 3x a year). They wind up walking .6 miles each day, since I go there and back 2x, I get 1.2 mi per day. I also have them in a sport/activity of their choice at least 1x a week. Right now is gymnastics and swimming. Swimming ends starting November, so I may have them do gym 2x a week if they'd like.
I have so far managed to NOT bring up the "fat" word to my daughters. They are both scrawny as all get out, but I have worked VERY hard not to tell them things like "If you eat that cookie, it will make you fat." I'm actually pretty proud of that. They are allowed one treat of their choice a day. They can have it after lunch or dinner. All other snacks are a free for all-various fruits and veggies, 100% natural fruit snacks on occasion, granola bars, and the occasional Nutella which is my youngest''s favorite.
Soda is off limits except for special occasions like a birthday party. Sprite if they are sick. They have never had any soda with caffiene. And, I buy the baby cans of soda when I buy it, so they only get 1/2 of that little can.
I think teaching our children to take care of their own bodies is essential to their well-being now and later in life as well. I'm trying to lead by example.
October 8, 2012 1:23 PM
Children learn by example. Practice what you preach and they'll find their way.
  28737300
October 8, 2012 1:24 PM
I quit talking about it. The minute I stopped telling them what they should eat, or how they should eat or to go get some exercise, she started asking questions. My daughter is 12. She watches me and this has been the biggest thing so far. I live it out in front of her and she picks it up. Works great!!
  27100652
October 8, 2012 1:27 PM
Well we're learning as we go, so what we're trying to pass on is my husband's love of veggies and protein.
-Treats are just that....treats. They're not an every day occurance.
-If you feel like you're hungry 15 minutes after eating a big meal, drink water (this one is hard to get through my 6 year old's head).
-My husband is part of the clean plate mindset, so I'm trying to teach him that when they're done, they're done. We can afford a little food wastage. But we're also learning to give them smaller portions.
-Neither drinks soda of any kind and juice is also a treat. They get milk or water. Juice is empty calories they get on a special occasion.
-Time on the Wii and TV are limited. If it's nice outside, they go out and play. No ifs, ands,or butts!
-Both kids are enrolled in ice skating classes (2nd year for son, 1st year for daughter). I have insisted our son be in SOME kind of activity ever since he was old enough...swim, skating, baseball, etc. Next year he wants to do football. Our daughter is now old enough to enroll her in things, so she's in skating and dance.

I want them to learn that coming home from school and ploping in front of the TV is NOT an option every day. If you want a snack, pick a healthy one (they can always have cheese sticks, yogurt, veggies, fruit, etc). And because of this, they both ASK for veggies (cucumber, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflour, etc) and water.
  18663346
October 8, 2012 1:28 PM
My son is 5. I try to lead by example. Kids are sponges, and learn all sorts of stuff even if you're not trying. So when I go ou fo ra run he wants to go too. usually cries his bloody head off when I say no (becuase it's going to be too far for him).

As for eating, the same. I eat salad, he eats salad. I have green beans, he has green beans. The other night he asked for brown rice with spicy's on it (Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning). It's always been that way. If ice cream, candy, and chips are never in the house, he doesn't know to ask for them. When we do allow it, it's an amazing treat.
  28220071
October 8, 2012 1:28 PM
The average dinner I serve my kids is a full cup of veggies, a good protein and a 1/2 cup of a starch. Favorite snacks I serve are:

- Raisins
- Graham crackers and Natural peanut butter
- Green apple slices and Natural peanut butter
- Yogurt (my kids prefer Greek!) :)
- Cheese cubes and turkey slices
- Ants on a log (celery, peanut butter and raisins)

I also am always outside with them. They love the outdoors!
  25213265
October 8, 2012 1:29 PM
We've been trying to be good examples. I don't buy the snack food --- since it is not in the house, it is not tempting. My kids are now used to whole wheat breads. My 2 year old loves broccoli and green beans. When we talk about dessert that can mean just about anything. Sometimes dessert is an apple or strawberries with whipped cream. But they do need to eat dinner in order to get this dessert.

Regarding soda pop, we do allow the kids to have some on occasion. We usually stick to the clear and orange soda pops (caffeine free). If available, I will get them Sierra Mist as it is the only one not made from high fructose corn syrup. And they get it in a cup. I hardly ever give them an entire bottle or can.
  6919391
October 8, 2012 1:31 PM
My kids DO eat junk food. It's a treat, not a lifestyle. But they know that.. I just won't be depriving them of anything so that they don't go off and binge when they have freedoms - I know, I did this.
At meal times, the eldest is involved in the cooking, and he understands the importance of vegetables and healthy items. He has school lunches, but once a week he wants to sit with his other friends.. so he helps me make a pack up, where he has a balanced meal of his choice.
He prefers crackers instead of bread, and knows how great it is to drink water.
I won't be forcing my kids to read labels or any of that.. just that if it has lots of sugar in it, it's a once in a while thing instead of an every day thing. They both have fruit juice or water instead of fizzy drinks (although the youngest is too young for fizzy anyway).

They both exercise with me. It's so funny to see the 1year old try to exercise as I do.. and I don't mind if the 7 year old picks up the 2lb dumbells (although again, not all the time since he's still developing). We walk 25 mins to school - up a hill on the way back, and he's involved in a sports club after school too.
We use the Wii Fit board.. just for fun. And so far he sees staying healthy as a good thing. But again, I'm not going overboard and forcing my way of living on them. They're children.. and I feel that they should live like one and have the same treats as others, just with the knowledge that what they're putting in their bodies 80% of the time should benefit them.
  20653863
October 8, 2012 1:32 PM
My girls are 5. I let them pick the main course most nights. It is usually: mini corn dogs, fish sticks, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese with tomato soup, or this one pasta and chicken dish they will eat (luckily it has spinach in it). That is about all they want with a few exceptions. If it is the pasta they also get fruit most times with it. If it is the other stuff they get a veggie (usually peas or green beans) and fruit. They get milk most nights but on occasion they get a soft drink. Closer to bed time they get a snack. Many nights it is something like cookies or candy. Some nights it is bananas with vanilla waffers or something else that is a little better for them. Last night one of them wanted a cookie and one wanted an apple. I explain to them that if they eat cookies two nights in a row then the third night they have to have a healthy snack. I find if I give them choices and explain that some things are ok to have a little at a time then they tend not to pig out on anything. These girls will not eat french fries and hardly eat chips. They have just never been a fan of them. They love bananas, tropical fruit, mandarin oranges, and apples. So as long as they are eating a lot of fruits and veggies I let them have the other stuff in moderation. Some nights they will ask for oatmeal as their dinner. When we eat out it is usually mac-n-cheese or quesadillas. They have also recently got on a peanut butter sandwich kick for lunch but I suspect it will pass in a few months. In the mean time they are eating them 3 to 4 days a week. But as much as they run around I don't care. They are so tall and lean we can't find jeans to fit them in the waste.
Edited by JPod279 On October 8, 2012 1:33 PM
  6061830
October 8, 2012 1:32 PM
One thing I work on with my kids (6 & 3) is teaching them the difference between FOOD and TREATS. If you are hungry or it is a meal, you need to eat FOOD for your body to be healthy. On occasion you can have a TREAT because they are fun and taste good, but not because you are hungry. Seems to make sense to them.
Edited by AmyP1974 On October 8, 2012 1:34 PM
October 8, 2012 1:34 PM
This is still a work in progress, but I'm trying to instill healthy habits in our 8-year-old. Breakfast is oatmeal every day, with fruit. Sometimes, I will fix scrambled eggs or breakfast burritos. We have "waffle Saturday" at our place and my sister usually comes over and that's our splurge. No more than half a chocolate chip Belgian waffle though and if you're still hungry, fruit. I also have a cannister of Ovaltine for her and Saturdays and Sundays, she's allowed to have one glass in the morning as a treat with breakfast.

She takes lunch to school and I made up a list of options for her to choose from. She actually is not a picky eater, and loves veggies and fruit. She picks a main meal (turkey and cheese rollups, homemade meatballs, PB&J on wheat, etc), then has a veggie and a fruit, and then may choose between a small sweet or salty snack. Those instantly get taken away if she starts coming home with leftover food, but her treat is gone.

Neither my fiance or I drink anything but water and tea, so there is never pop in the house. Usually just milk, very rarely juice even. We sometimes allow her to order a root beer or a Shirley Temple if we're eating out, but she only gets one glass and then has to switch to water.

I fix healthier dinners anyway, and I'm trying to get away from including so much bread/carbs in our dinners and having a veggie side at every meal. Her problem is wanting to eat seconds or thirds of something just because she likes the taste of it, even if she isn't hungry. I'm struggling on what to do with that because I don't want her growing up with food issues. My recent method is if she asks for seconds (if it's a rare dish that isn't on the healthy side like pizza bread, etc), I'll ask if she's actually still hungry, and if she says yes, I'll give her more veggies, etc. When I put together our weekly menu each Sunday, she gets to pick a meal for the week. Usually it's spaghetti or chicken nuggets...I encourage her to pick a healthy side to go with it.

We don't have really have desserts or sweets in the house. The freezer has real fruit pops, but desserts aren't a normal routine.

She's taken notice that both her dad and I have been working out, so she'll ask "Did you have a good run?" or something when we come in. We encourage any outside activity she wants to do, and bought her a bike this summer. We're trying to teach moderation in treats/electronics, etc.
Edited by bhalter On October 8, 2012 1:35 PM
  1893895
October 8, 2012 1:35 PM
If you don't want them eating junk food, don't let them eat it or allow family members to feed it to them. If they've never had a nuggets or fry, they won't miss is.

I'm not a fan of the clean plate club, and they have to take 3 bites of something new. If they don't like it
There is cereal or oatmeal in the pantry. Not everything I make sits well in their stomach. Especially Mexican or spicy.

My kids do have a small amount of junk food, but it can only be eaten as a snack after lunch. One thing I am adamant about is 2
Glasses of milk a day and they must eat proper amount of protein. I always set aside some plain meat for them if it's new or don't like it.
  26997672
October 8, 2012 1:37 PM
I was raised with parents using food (and other things) as a weapon, tool, etc...I taught my children to eat when they are hungry. I think the most valuable thing I ever taught them (and the schools hated) was listen to your body about everything...especially food.
  26776544
October 8, 2012 1:40 PM
QUOTE:

I have 4 kids and I make a healthy meal for breakfast and dinner (only 1; I am not a restaurant), and I pack lunches for the youngest 3. Everyone has 2 choices: take it or leave it.

This does not always please everyone, but too bad. For example, last night I made this:

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chickpea-spinach-curry-10000000354461/

(Chickpea spinach curry) over brown rice, with 1/2 fresh pear and fresh raspberries. Served the kids 1 small Hawaiian roll each too. I've made this before and my husband, 2 of our kids, and I really like it. Husband bought 3 large chocolate chip cookies to split for dessert.

The 14 and 4 year olds gobbled it, but the 11 and 9-year olds are not fans of this dish (again, too bad). So the 11 year old ate only his fruit and roll. The 9-y-o chose to pick out all the spinach and as much of the tomatoes as he could (ha!) and ate about 3/4 of his serving. He got dessert.

Advice:

1. Cook healthy, even if you're tired. This takes planning, but anyone can do it. Even a plate of spaghetti with low-cal marinara is better than fast food. Always have fresh and frozen fruit stocked -- serve it with the meal on the plate.

2. If they don't eat, fine. Don't give in. You are the parent. No dessert.

3. Speaking of dessert, DO NOT buy boxes of things and keep in the house. If you must have it, buy individual cookies at a bakery, or individual ice cream cups - just 1 per person. Don't whine that it's expensive. What cost keeping yourself and your family healthy?? Don't pay for your discount giant tubs of ice cream in the freezer with blood pressure medicine. If you bake, cut your recipes in half, and/or freeze cookie dough, or baked goods and take out individual servings.

4. Exercise with your kids and on your own - bikes, walks, swimming, baseball, whatever. Make them all do something even when they whine. They'll eventually stop whining and thank you later. Trust me, I know this is hard -- I have a "quitter".

5. Explain why healthy foods are healthy and unhealthy foods are unhealthy. Don't give in to "special treats", or "just this once" -- it is not a treat to put garbage into your body or your kid's body.

blessings.
[ This is exactly what i do. My son is 11 years old. We all take part in healthy lifestyles. We go over the serving sizes of things so he understands that even though it looks like a snack bag of jerky... its really 3 seperate snacks. Little things. but hopefully it will make a world of a difference when he is older.]
Edited by MelissaE1214 On October 8, 2012 1:40 PM
October 8, 2012 2:11 PM
I have an 8yo and a 2yo. I make sure exercise is part of our everyday routine. We don't have a car so they are used to walking (my 8yo does 1 hour a day just walking to and from school). My 2yo still uses a pushchair because of the amount of walking we do, but she is allowed in and out of it as she pleases and can walk for 90mins at a time. I take my 8yo swimming and bike riding and the little one to play in the park (swimming aggravates her skin so she can't go regularly).

For food we have everyday foods and sometimes foods. I teach them about how if you want to be big and strong you need 'superhero' food. Basically good healthy foods in the right proportions to build your strong body and provide energy - plenty of fruit and veg, whole grains, lean protein, dairy and good fats. They do have treats but they are limited - usually a small thing after dinner, such as 1 sweet/piece of candy, never a packet full. And never eaten out of the packet - portions are measured out and put in a bowl or similar container.

Mostly though it is leading by example. They see what we do and they copy. Dinner is a family meal and eaten together, and I make sure it is healthy home cooked food, but also we like tasty food. I keep an eye on their weight (they like to weigh themselves as they see me do it).

But I think it is also important to help them fit a healthy lifestyle into a normal life. This weekend was my son and husbands birthday (same day) so essentially we spent all weekend having parties and going out for meals. The kids were allowed to eat what they liked and when they liked. But they know we spent last week and will spend this week cutting out the 'extras' to make up for it. Next weekend is my birthday so more celebrations. However it is interesting to watch how, when left to their own devices, although they don't make perfect choices, they could be worse. And they don't overeat, they will stop half way through their meal if full. But my son did end up with a stomach ache (excessive amounts of carbs seem to do that to him), and we do point out that eating 'badly' does make you feel ill if you keep it up long enough, fine for a day or so but not longer.

I do believe in having things in moderation - you can eat whichever foods you like as long as it is a reasonable portion size, and the majority of their diet is healthy. Also I don't really do 'kids food', they eat what we eat. Last week when we went out for a meal they had tapas and loved it. They like spicy food and we have an interesting and varied diet. Healthy food is something to be enjoyed, not suffered through.
Edited by TheArmadillo On October 8, 2012 2:12 PM
  17664389
October 8, 2012 2:17 PM
It is nice too read from all the great parents on MFP. Thanks
  26776544
October 8, 2012 2:55 PM
I have had a great time reading the posts from all the other parents here. Like some of you I am still learning for myself as well as my little ones but I'm also lucky that they are really open to trying new things. They love Greek yogurt, fruit, SOME of the veggies they've been offered (they love carrots, snap peas, broccoli and even broccoli rabe!) I try to make sure they get blanced meals each day. They love apples with peanut butter, blueberries /raspberries and some other really great snacks. Ive had to convince their dad that they may not like everything they are offered, especially at dinner and its okay to have a backup, healthy go to. He is getting better with this instead of trying to make them eat something they obviously don't want.

I try to lead by example to teach them how to interact with and speak to others, and try to keep a calm, happy energy.

I never thought I wanted children mostly because I didn't want to be completely horrible at being a parent. Now that they are here I find myself trying to learn more about how to bring them up in a manner that will help them become all that they can be.

Again, love these posts-thank you to all of you who have responded! Keep them coming I think there are a lot of parents who will enjoy this smile
  29504734

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