A Few Healthy Tips from the Trenches

As a mom who is concerned with healthy lifestyles, I am always intrigued to hear other families’ tips. So I thought you might like to hear a few of mine:

–When you shop, let your children choose their own pound of produce. Kids who have some control over the purchase are more enthusiastic about eating it.

–If kids are whining for a meal right now and you are surrounded by chain restaurants, look for a Panera. The fast, casual chain is the only one I know that serves children’s meals featuring whole-grain bread, natural peanut butter and organic milk, cheese and yogurt.

–Don’t buy pop. That’s it. Don’t even have it in the house. Your kids won’t develop a taste for something that they have never had.

–Keep frozen fruit in your freezer. With juice, yogurt or milk, you can make a great healthy smoothie in a flash.

–Leave plates of cut and peeled fruits and vegetables on counters and tables or in the refrigerator. Kids are more likely to grab them if portions are sized for little hands and mouths.

–When packing lunches, have your children help. Again, they are more likely to eat their lunches if they have a say as to what goes in them. And the lunch is only healthy if they eat it.

–Teach kids to be early label readers by identifying ingredients you don’t want in your home, such as high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils or artificial sweeteners. Kids then become motivated to check labels and find things they think you might buy.

–Identify the closest forest preserve, quiet park or nature walk and plan a regular weekend nature stroll. The kids may complain on the way, but the fresh air and the sights almost always turn them around upon arrival. Bring the bikes if you have room in the car!

–Let the kids download a playlist of (approved) upbeat songs for a family dance party. The song chooser gets to lead the others in dances or exercises for each song. You will look goofy but will work up a fun sweat in no time.

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