It is important to guide your children to eat healthy meals and living healthy lives. This will play a critical role in their lives as they adopt these teachings and habits.
School term is now in full gear and every parent wants to ensure that their child is healthy even when they cannot monitor them all day. The best way is to teach them by showing them. It is also important to teach the older ones how to make healthy food choices.
Children can be ‘copy cats’ and if you catch them young with these lessons, you would not be sorry.
Here are 5 habits to teach your children:
- Teach them to Wash Hands and the importance of the habit
This is important. Children will constantly be in contact with others at school and school is one place that bacteria and viruses can spread easily. So, teach them to wash their hands whenever they take a bathroom break, before and after they eat their foods. Once they are used to this habit at home, it becomes a part of them in school too (provided the school has functional hand washing facilities) and it can also become a lifelong habit. It is also important to tell them why they need to wash their hands.
- Fuel them with healthy breakfasts
When all you package for them is delicious and healthy breakfasts, they can do the same for themselves when they grow older and it becomes a lifelong habit. It could also be their default mode as they grow when they cannot think of what to eat.
Give them healthy breakfasts as opposed to sugar-laden cereals. If ready-to-eat cereal is your choice for breakfast, take the pains to select the healthiest choices available.
You can consider adding oats to their list of cereals and if you want to go indigenous, Acha porridge is not a bad idea. Either way, never forget your fruits and vegetables and find ways to incorporate them into their school lunch bag meals.
- Encourage healthy school snacks
Biscuits, sugary or fruity drinks and pastries are some of the snacks and drinks packed up for children. You can replace some of these with fruits and veggie snacks. If you find these difficult, you can arrange with the school and other parents to have packaged fruits for these children at snack time. It is doable and some schools do this excellently well; contributing significantly to the health of their children.
Also, remember that water is the best form of hydration and juices and drinks should not take the place of water.
- Encourage a variety of meals at lunch time
At school, children tend to conform more to the directives of the school authority and so this is an opportunity for you to give them a variety of foods that they might even reject at home. However, note that the school’s main priority is good education so do not stress them unnecessarily with trying too many new foods. Also, remember that while diversity in meal is important, it is only the food that gets eaten (in appropriate amount and quality) that nourishes the child.
- Teach them Meals are incomplete without fruits and vegetables
Fruits and veggies help to maintain our bodies and help prevent diseases. Now more than ever, there is a need to focus on health prevention as opposed to treatment which is super expensive especially in our continent (Africa). So, teach your children that meals are incomplete without fruits and veggies and show them by ensuring that they eat fruits and veggies at home or place them in their lunch bags every day.
In a Nutshell
Remember, when you do you these things, they see you and learn your habits. You can teach them by doing and by instructing. Tell them the importance of fruits and vegetables and how big and strong they will be if they eat well and they will make you happy when you see how well-nourished they are and how smart their food choices become in the future. Eat better and live better my people.