If you're a parent, there are times you struggle in finding ways of how your family, especially children and teenagers, can eat healthier while making the whole experience fun and enjoyable. It's not always easy. The parents who plan meals for the family can offer a big opportunity to practice good, joyful, and healthy dietary habits. Let's talk about some practical suggestions and tips.
Many studies emphasize how eating healthy is extremely important for our vitality and body function. As parents, we need to pay special attention to the significant impact of poor nutrition on children’s actual and future physical and mental health, their daily well-being, schoolwork, mood, and confidence. According to the results of the FinHealth 2017 study, familiar health problems are still common in Finland and the key risk factors for chronic diseases include elevated blood pressure, total cholesterol, and obesity.
Having meals together with the family for at least once a day not only promotes more bonding time but also the possibility of consuming more fruits and vegetables. When children don't eat meals together in family, they are more prone to eat ready-made food outside the house, which means less healthy options because these are usually fried or sugary food and drinks.
Joyful and relaxing habits
Eating with family offers a warm atmosphere that can encourage relaxed family bonding while preparing food together. It minimizes the need for TV, phones, and computers. Spending more time together in the dining table offers positive and cheerful experiences. If both parents work and there's no chance for them to join, at least try to eat together with siblings.
Peer and social pressure
What we eat certainly has an effect on our health and people around us could have a remarkable influence on our choices towards a better and healthier diet and lifestyle. This is valid either for children and both teenagers who can be greatly influenced by social media and peers of the same age whom they would imitate.
Parents can teach and guide the children and teenagers both at home and at school, by encouraging, helping them, and building trust in their ability to be able to create a healthy lifestyle and make the proper choices. Parents can provide healthy food at home, plan meals and snacks for schools, hobbies, and other activities.
Positive activities and approaches
Now let’s put in practice and give some examples of activities that can be done together which help to eat healthier with joy as well:
*grocery shopping together with children
*reading ingredients together for better awareness of healthier choices
*letting children help in preparing food
*being passionate about food, nature and its resources, and what food offers us like vitamins, fibers, antioxidants and why they are important for our health
*offering various healthy choices to children and guiding them to maintain healthy choices
*offering them a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and letting them choose their favorite fruits for snack times at home and to bring to school
*promoting the benefits of drinking water when thirsty instead of sugary drinks
*encouraging them to eat slowly and mindfully and to be always grateful for the food
*being a good role model to them in showing love, passion, and gratitude