Working parents often make food choices based on convenience. Serving meals that are appealing to picky kids is often the most hassle-free way to get through meal times, but it's not necessarily the most nutritious. Good nutrition goes a long way not just toward physical health, but also toward mental and intellectual health, too. Here are some quick and easy ways to introduce your kids to a healthier new way of life.
You are where you eat
Studies show that serving your kids snacks or meals in front of a computer screen or TV can lead to overeating as the brain can get distracted and not register when the stomach is full. Fitness guru Kimberly Malasky recommends enjoying dinner together at the dining table not only will your kids be able to concentrate on their meal, but you'll also enjoy some quality family time. A study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine also found that cutting kids' TV and computer time in half reduced the amount of food they ate and therefore helped them to lose weight. Researchers said they thought this was due to the fact that kids were exposed to fewer TV ads for unhealthy foods and beverages.
The two-bite rule
Fitness consultant Debi Pillarella suggests introducing the two-bite rule. When trying to get your kids to eat new nutritious foods let them know they don't have to eat the entire portion they just have to have two bites. If they like it they give it the thumbs up, and if they don't it gets the thumbs down. She says you'll be surprised how many thumbs up you get!
Left to their own devices, kids will always reach for the snacks that are higher in sugar or salt, so get rid of the unhealthy snacks and replace them with nutritious alternatives, like sliced-up cheese, carrots or fruit.
Beware pre-packaged meals
They're a quick and easy alternative, but pre-packaged, ready-made meals that are usually contain high levels of sodium and fat will not only affect your child's overall health but will also affect how they perform throughout the day. It's time consuming, but home-made lunches really are worth investing some time in, even if it means putting aside some time on the weekends to cut up fruit, sandwich meat and low-sugar snacks ready for assembly on busy mornings.
Practice what you preach
As a parent, think about the kinds of foods that you eat and how your lifestyle may reflect on your child's. Do you spend your spare time watching the TV, or are you out in the garden or playing sport? Your habits should reflect the lifestyle you're trying to encourage your children to have.