Sadly, childhood obesity is at an all time high. Obesity leads to a number of health risks—diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even some cancers. Good nutrition is more important than ever for the developing child. It helps not only a child’s bones and bodies develop, but their brains develop as well. Helping children become healthy eaters is a beneficial habit that can lead to a lifetime of wholesome eating habits. The New Year offers a great time to resolve to begin better eating habits. Here are some tips to aid in that process.
Limit sugary beverages. Even some juices have a surprising amount of sugar. Try to find beverages that contain 100% fruit juice. You will also be helping your child’s dental health.
Have veggies cut up and ready to snack on in the fridge. Convenience helps make it an easier choice. Also offering low fat dips for carrots and celery is a yummy option. Try some other veggies as snacks, too. Zucchini is really good raw and cut up in strips.
Consider using whole wheat crackers and breads. These choices are not only healthier, they often have less sugar.
Try different fruits (like Kiwi or papaya). Have a “tasting” party. Children are more receptive to try new foods if it is fun. Graphing the results to post on the fridge is a fun reminder of what new foods have been tasted.
Try dried cherries and cranberries, as well as that old standby, raisins. These dried fruits are also a tasty addition to lettuce salads and in tuna or chicken salad sandwiches. Dried fruits like apricots are delicious and sweet. And dried fruits are a much better sweet treat than candy!
Offer water as a beverage choice. Our bodies and brains need water to function properly. And water is a great thirst quencher all year round. Plain old tap water is as good and much cheaper than bottled water.
For some more ideas on healthy eating habits contact the cooperative extension in your area. They have many resources available for healthy eating and other useful information for a healthy lifestyle. In Manistee County the e-mail address for MSU Cooperative Extension is firstname.lastname@example.org
Most importantly, let your child see you as a role model for healthy eating. It is much easier to help children be healthy eaters if they can follow the lead of the important adults in their lives! Good habits developed as a child will lead to healthier adults.