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6 Ways to Encourage Healthy Habits in Kids

We’ve all struggled with implementing a new healthy habit into our lives. It can be a daunting task, especially when you’ve reached adulthood and didn’t grow up practicing these habits. As kids head back to school, FTOC wants to help you instill healthy habits.

1. Make mealtime fun & encourage curiosity

Including your family in the process is just one way to make mealtime more fun. From picking a meal, grocery shopping, and prepping meals together will make your kids feel a part of the process. By including your kids, this may increase their curiosity about new food groups. Cooking can be a creative outlet, and many kids enjoy the responsibility of contributing to family meals. Creating an association that mealtime is not a chore but rather something to look forward to will increase the likelihood that your kids will enjoy cooking in the future. Including your family creates variety in your meals, new traditions, and great memories.

2. Ditch the clean plate club

Many of us grew up being told to always finish our plate. While the idea behind this belief is to discourage food waste, this can actually be a harmful ideal to pass on to our children. Don’t force children to stay at the table until they finish their meal. Instead, encourage smaller portions to start, and remind them they can always get seconds. Encourage more vegetables if they are still hungry after finishing their plate, and don’t avoid shaming if there is extra. You can always save them for leftovers. Remember to keep foods neutral, and try to restrain from rewarding a clean plate with dessert.

3. Keep food neutral

There are many ways parents accidentally influence their kids’ feelings about food groups. Many parents make the mistake of using food as a reward. Though this might work for accomplishing certain tasks like homework and cleaning, it can create an unhealthy relationship around certain foods. If your child grows up seeing food as a reward without limitations being set, this can be detrimental long term. You also want to avoid modeling a negative attitude about certain foods you dislike. It’s easy for our kids to adopt a similar attitude about the ways we feel towards different foods.

4. Avoid sugary drinks

While sugary drinks seem like a great way to quench your thirst during these hot days, water is actually the most hydrating drink you could offer your children. Instead of soda and juice, try to encourage your family to drink more water. A good way to do this is to avoid keeping sugary drinks in the house to begin with. If water is the only option, it will also be the best option.

5. Play outside and focus on extracurricular activities

Encourage playing outside and emphasize the importance of extracurricular activities. After a long day inside at school, most kids today want to play video games or watch TV. While sometimes we use screen time to our advantage, try to motivate your kids to get outside and get moving. Invite them to go for a walk with you, or to play with the neighborhood kids. Try kicking a soccer ball around, playing tag, or going to the park to play on the playground. There are so many activities you can do outside to keep your kids active. Whatever activities you choose for your family, try to make sure they are getting at least 60 minutes of exercise a day.

6. Lead by example

The best way to instill healthy habits in our children is to practice them ourselves. While it can be more difficult to change our own lifestyle habits, we know that children learn best from watching their caretakers. The influence we have over our own children is undeniable, and when we are leading healthy lifestyles, they are more inclined to lead healthy lifestyles.

If you are struggling to implement a healthy lifestyle into your life, check out our blog, where we share healthy recipes, and monthly workout routines. Patients are also welcome to make an appointment at our Tustin Wellness Center, where they will have access to a nutritionist, weight resistance training, and karate classes.