After some top tips for how to keep your children happy and healthy?
We asked wellbeing expert and author of Keep It Real Calgary Avansino (she’s also a GRACE magazine cover star) to share her top five tips for healthier kids. Photograph: Julie Adams | Go to www.calgaryavansino.com
1. Start as you mean to go on
It’s never too early to start getting your children eating well! From the moment your babies are weaned off milk, give them vegetables first. Get them used to the savoury side of life in the first six months of life. If you haven’t done this already, don’t worry – just get them changing their habits as soon as possible. Attitudes towards food and eating are learned early on.
2. Lead by example
If you truly want to see your children eating well, then you really do need to take the lead on this one. You can’t expect them to want to tuck into lentils and tofu for dinner if you’re cooking yourself a pizza. Making the decision to eat well needs to be a decision made by the whole family. Sitting down at the table to eat dinner collectively reinforces this and shows them you’re all in this together. Actions DO speak louder than words.
3. Clear out your cupboards
One of the crucial first stages in beginning a healthier way of living is by cleaning out your kitchen cupboards. If you and your children are hungry and there are a lot of unhealthy options available, you will be more inclined to make poor food choices. Put a ban on any junk food or sugary items entering your house. If you haven’t got them around, the answer is a straightforward “sorry we don’t have any of those”. You hold the power to decide what populates your kitchen – use that power wisely.
4. Attack breakfast
Breakfast shouldn’t be dessert for kids! We need to rethink the types of foods we are giving our children first thing in the morning. Moving away from sugary cereals, fruit yoghurts, pastries, bars and spreads and instead thinking about more wholesome, “real” options that will fuel their day. We also need to keep an eye out for hidden sugar, which can masquerade itself in many seemingly “healthy” foods; think granola, fruit juices, snack bars – plus many items labelled ‘low-fat’ or ‘diet’. Read the labels and remember – 4g of sugar = 1 teaspoon.
5. No “big deal” eating
It is human nature to rebel against your parents – at least to a degree – so my best advice is: don’t make ‘healthy’ a BIG DEAL. The more you go on about how you are trying new healthy ingredients, you aren’t sure they are going to like them, they better eat them because they are good for you, and so forth, it just directs too much attention to the wrong thoughts. That kind of chatter gives kids all the ammunition they need to wind you up and push your buttons by being difficult about eating it. Don’t make food a battle of wills or power. Just present new foods, new ingredients, new ideas with a “no-big-deal” mentality. The less fuss you make about what goes on the kitchen table, the better.