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Healthy habits for your kids

Pregnancy & Toddlers • by Ryno Ellis • 08 May 2017

Habits are hard to break, so it’s particularly important to teach your kids healthy ones while they’re young so you don’t have to break them at a later stage.

Your child’s mind is like a sponge soaking up everything you do. That’s why it’s very important to be a good role model and mindful of the habits you teach your kids.

Here’s a list of small changes you can make in your life that won’t only be beneficial to you, but your young children as well:

Limit sugar consumption

Sugar is one of the leading causes of childhood obesity and has a range of other negative effects on the human body from diabetes type 1 and type 2 to heart disease symptoms.

That’s why it’s crucial to teach young children to enjoy sweets in moderation. Although you’d associate kids having fun with eating sugary treats, there are other options that will keep them healthier.

Instilling a healthy attitude to sugar in your kids from a young age may lead to fewer sugar cravings in the future, and they’ll definitely thank you once they’re older.

Use healthier alternatives to lower your kids’ sugar intake like water flavoured with fresh fruits instead of sugary soft drinks. Instead of regularly giving them sweets and chocolates, teach them that healthier foods like nuts, fruits and vegetables can also be just as tasty.

Lower sodium intake

Young children should consume only half a teaspoon of salt a day. Eating more puts them at risk of developing heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and more problems later in life.

You can easily limit their salt intake by making small changes in your life. Simply putting the salt shaker away at supper, using less salt when cooking and feeding them unprocessed foods will significantly reduce their sodium intake and lead to healthy, strong kids. 

Soon their taste buds will adapt and they’ll become accustomed to eating less salt in their food.

Eat little to no processed food

Processed foods are often filled with added sugar, salt and trans fats to allow prolonged shelf life. These added ingredients can be linked to many unwanted conditions such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and many more.  

Unfortunately, the biggest problem with avoiding packaged foods is that it’s everywhere. All on-the-go foods like snacks, chips and canned foods are more convenient. 

To avoid processed foods, a general rule of thumb would be to switch out convenient snacks with healthy foods for kids such as fresh fruits, nuts and vegetables.  

At first this might be challenging, but soon your family will not only become used to it, they’ll love the change.

Drink plenty of water

The majority of kids would rather down a sugary soft drink than water. Sugary drinks contribute greatly to a range of issues from obesity to heart problems. 

The worst part is, once you’re hooked on the stuff, it’s hard to go without it. So the best thing to do is to avoid it altogether.

Avoid giving your kids any sugary drink like soft drinks and fruit juices at all costs. Be creative and find alternatives like mineral water, home-made iced tea or milk to help quench their thirst. 

If you’re a parent and you’ve already allowed a few unhealthy habits, don’t stress.

Here are a few subtle things you can adjust to improve your kids’ health:

Find healthy alternatives

Finding healthy foods for kids and subtly implementing them might take some time but will be worth it in the end. For a healthier diet, put away the crisps and sweets for snacking and instead swap them with peanut butter treats, fruits or flavoured nuts.

Lead by example

Young children mimic your lifestyle habits and if you’re snacking away on unhealthy foods then they’ll of course want to as well. See the change as an opportunity to not only instill healthy habits into your kids’ life, but yours too.

Teach them so they’ll make better choices

When your kids are old enough, you can teach them why it’s better to eat fruits and vegetables rather than sweets. By providing them with all the information, it might assist in them adopting healthier habits. 

Have fun

Make your new healthy choices fun rather than a chore. Choosing to present foods in a creative way to grab your children’s attention may not only lead to your kids having fun, but you as well. If they associate healthy food with good and happy memories then they won’t have a problem adopting new habits.

Source: http://www.healthline.com; http://www.heart.org

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