Easy Healthy Eating and Fitness Tips

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March has been declared National Nutrition Month® by the American Dietetic Association, so I can't think of a better time to talk about ways to improve your child's lifestyle and eating habits. We all know that a banana is a healthier snack than a bag of potato chips and that playing outside is better than sitting on the couch watching television. But, sometimes making those choices is not so easy. Forming new healthy habits takes time and practice, but it can be done! The key to keeping children involved is by making eating and exercising a family activity.

Eat Together As a Family:

Make mealtimes a family event by sitting down at the table together for at least one meal a day. If dinner time is too busy with activities, try starting the day by eating breakfast together. Ideally, mealtimes should be a pleasurable experience that allows your child to try new foods and to learn good eating habits from their parents. Siblings can also be a great role model during mealtime. Most children have definite food likes and dislikes. However, parents should still encourage trying new foods during mealtime. Provide a small quantity of the new food so that your child does not feel pressured and begins to accept the new food.

Do you remember the clean plate club? Try not to expect your child to eat everything on his or her plate. Instead let your child choose their own portion size, provided that the food is nutritious. Children need to learn to pace themselves and become aware that they are full. Don't take it personally, leaving food on the plate does not mean your child is not thankful for a good meal. Remember that they will have another meal again and it is better to save the leftovers for another meal than overeat and risk becoming overweight.

Make Mealtimes a Routine:

Get your child involved in cooking and planning family meals. Take your child with you to the grocery store and spend some time reading nutrition labels and comparing products.

Eat around a table. It's easier to talk to each other when you are face to face.

Set a time for family meals. That way your child knows that, for example, dinner is at 6:00pm or breakfast is at 7:30am each day.

During mealtime, focus on each other by turning off the TV and letting the answering machine pick up the phone.

Talk to your child about their day or something enjoyable. Mealtime is not the time for complaining or lecturing about lost homework.