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There is no doubt that most kids are picky eaters.
It might seem like an impossible task to change the foods your child likes to eat and change some of their not-so-healthy eating habits.
Don't you worry.
We are here to help!
We believe so strongly in setting the right nutritional foundation for children.
If you can instill better eating habits now, you can set-up your children for success down the road.
Childhood and teenage years are extremely important periods of growth and development.
This development is largely impacted by the foods our kids eat and the nutritional habits they have.
In fact, research has shown, eating the right foods at a young age can:
- Create long-term healthy eating habits
- Help children maintain a healthy weight
- Prevent and decrease the risk of various diseases and illnesses
- Improve digestive health
- Improve brain function (learning, focus, memory, etc)
- Improve sport performance
Let's get into the 6 ways to improve your child's nutrition.
1| Think small wins
You are not going to completely overhaul your child's nutrition in one day.
I think this is where a lot of parents wrong as they try to change too much and kids resist.
Instead, focus on small victories or improvements, day in and day out.
This is known as the compound effect.
It can be as simple as substituting a water for soda or juice at one meal per day.
It could be as simple as diluting their fruit juices with water.
Substitute their favorite junk foods with healthier versions like making homemade baked chicken tenders at home instead of the fried ones at the store.
Send your kid to school with a belly full of Greek yogurt and berries instead of that sugary cereal.
The beauty of these small, micro-level improvements is that they add up and build on each other.
Slowly, these improvements become habits.
By gradually lowering the amount of empty calorie snacks and drinks our kids consume and replacing them with more nutrient-dense, real foods, we can make a vast improvement in their nutrition over time.
2| Lead by example
It is going to be tough to improve the nutritional habits your kids have if you aren't doing the same.
Believe it or not, your kids are watching what you do, how you cook, how you eat and how you prepare food.
Much of how our children grow up is based upon the things and habits they observe us doing as parents vs. what we say.
What types of foods are you eating for breakfast?
What kinds of drinks are you having?
How do you shop and prepare foods?
What are your portion sizes like?
In what setting do you eat your food? Always on the go? In front of the TV?
Everything you do as a parent matters because your kids are picking up and ingraining the same habits you have. It is very much a copy-cat mentality.
Set your child up for long-term success by leading by a positive example when it comes to eating healthy.
3| Cut the sugar
Cutting sugar is going to be one of the most powerful tools in improving your child's nutrition and overall health.
Eating excessive sugar has been shown to:
- Increase body-weight
- Cause sugar addiction
- Cause depression and stress
- Increase risk of illness and disease
- Increase insulin resistance
The biggest sugar-loaded foods are things like desserts and cereal and drinks like soda and juice.
Where it can get complicated is where food companies add sugar to foods we might think are healthy.
For example, you most likely would not let your child have dessert for breakfast, right?
As crazy as it sounds, many kid's cereals have more sugar in them than the dessert they eat.
To limit sugar:
- Limit fruit juices and soda - stick to mostly water
- Dilute sugary drinks like juice and chocolate milk
- Choose lower-sugar cereals - introduce oatmeal and berries
- Break the habit of nightly dessert
- Have low sugar snacks like nuts, beef jerky, protein bars and fruit & peanut butter handy
4| Include your kids
One of the best things you can do to get your kids eating better and thinking about what they put into their body is to include them.
Take them grocery shopping.
Have them help you pick dinner recipes for the week.
Teach them how to cook and create their own meals and snacks with fresh, real ingredients.
Teach them why eating nutritious foods are important and what impact they have on their body.
This will have a profound impact on the nutritional habits they will have for life.
By including your children in the planning, preparing and cooking, you can make it fun for them.
They will be instilling better habits, learning about food and how to make better choices.
This will make great family time as well :)
5| Plan ahead
If you're like most parents you're constantly on the go.
This can make it tough to get well-balanced foods consistently into your families' diet.
In these situations, we typically go to what is going to be the quickest way to get food, not what is going to be the healthiest.
We then rely on fast food and convenience stores -- a recipe for high sugar, high calorie and high-fat, processed foods.
To avoid this, think about your kid's meals in advance.
Have a weekend tournament? Pack a cooler of sandwiches, fresh fruit and yogurts.
Traveling on a road trip? Prepare healthy snacks like low sugar protein bars, raw veggies and hummus, sandwiches, beef jerky and nuts.
As I like to tell our Nutrition Coaching members -- failure to prepare is preparing to fail.
6| Join our Summer Camps
In a little over a month, our Summer Middle-School and High-School Camps will be starting up.
I am very excited to announce we will be adding a nutrition component to the camps.
Each week we will be discussing, learning and implementing various nutrition topics like:
- Starting each day with a balanced breakfast
- Pre and post-workout nutrition (how to fuel your body to perform)
- How to read food labels
Our goal is to educate our campers on the importance of proper nutrition (especially how it relates to athletic performance), teach them how to make better choices and ingrain lasting nutritional habits.
If we can build a foundation of healthy nutritional habits now, our kids will be off to a great start!