Here are my top 5 tips for busy families!
1. Breakfast: Make sure your child starts each morning with a nutritious breakfast, whether it is at home, at school, or even on the way to school! Make sure fruit is a part of the breakfast so your child is on the right track in getting their fruits and veggies in for the day. Children who eat breakfast have fewer tummy aches during school, so they are better able to concentrate and focus in the classroom.
2. Lunch: You have the power to inspire your child to build a healthy plate at school and at home. School lunch programs offer healthy, well-balanced meals. Review the school menu with your child and encourage them to try new foods and reinforce healthy eating by offering similar new foods at home. If your child brings a lunch from home, discuss with them what foods to include and focus on providing foods similar to a complete school meal (whole grains, protein, fruit, vegetable and low-fat or fat-free milk).
3. Snacks: My 4 year old pretty much sums it up, “I don’t like food, I like snacks!” Processed snacks have consumed our children’s diets. When you think of snacks, think of them as mini-meals. Have fruits and vegetables, whole-grain crackers, low-fat cheese, small sandwiches, yogurt, and fat-free/low-fat milk ready for after school snacks. Make healthy snacks the easy choice!
4. Family Meals: Focus on each other at the table. Talk about fun and happy things at mealtime. Turn off electronics and try to make eating meals a stress-free time. We use ISU Extension and Outreach Conversations cards when we need to revive our family meal conversations. My daughters love them!
5. Physical Activity: Make sure your child has plenty of opportunities to be active and that doesn’t mean they have to participate in organized sports. Make physical activity part of your family’s lifestyle, not something that you have to carve time out to complete. Walk the dog together as family. Involve the whole family in household chores, cleaning, vacuuming, and yard work. When it is time to celebrate as a family do something active as a reward, such as go to a park your family hasn’t been to before, go swimming, check out a new bike trail, or find a roller skating rink nearby (yes they still exist!).
As a parent or caregiver, you are the most important influence on your child. You can do simple things that will help your children develop healthy habits for life. What is something new you want to try this week?