How to Involve Your Kids in Creating Healthy Habits
2023 has begun and with it a fresh round of New Year’s resolutions. One thing to consider this year is how to involve your kids in creating healthy, sustainable habits they enjoy! Studies show that kids often repeat what they see and starting earlier is key. Instilling healthier habits at a young age can help kids (and the rest of the family) from picking up those pesky, unhealthy habits that linger into adulthood where they can be harder to break.
Staying healthy and leading a more active lifestyle can help push back diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. In a busy, fast-paced world identifying practical tips can be helpful to form better habits that everyone in the family will be excited to get on board with.
Simple, practical tips to get started:
- Create a visual checklist with simple steps or ideas: Creating a visual with steps or a specific checklist to follow can act as a great reminder for kids. This could be helpful in laying out a bedtime or morning routine as well as for generating an idea-list for healthy snacks stuck on the fridge, taking out some of the guesswork after a long school day.
- Make it a habit you practice together: When a healthy habit or routine is introduced it can be helpful to practice going through it with them. This can reinforce to the kid or teen its importance and help them learn ways to do it themselves independently. Kids also often repeat what they see so finding ways to model healthy habits to your kids and sticking with them is another important key.
- Find small, simple ways to reward your child or teen: Finding small ways to reward your child for completing healthy habits (especially in the beginning) can be a great way to create incentive for following through. An example of this could be rewarding your child for going to bed on time 5 days in a row with 15 minutes of extra screen time or having them pick a special dessert at the end of the week to enjoy.
Ideas for Healthy Habits:
- Involve your kids in meal planning + shopping: Everyone knows it is best to head into the grocery store with a plan. Why not involve your kids next time? Asking for your child’s input is a great way to empower them in their food choices or even explain to them how you choose certain meals for the week. Bringing your child along to the farmer’s market is a great way to show them how to pick out seasonal produce and introduce to them where their food comes from. Other ways to involve them could be having them bag produce at the store or reading nutrition labels as you pick between two similar items. Age and maturity will often determine their level of involvement and having them tag along is a good start.
- Have healthy, yummy snacks on hand: Once after school hits, kids often love to reach for what is quick and most accessible. Sometimes this may mean reaching for more processed frozen food items, high sugar granola bars, or candy. Having apples and peanut butter or yogurt and lightly processed granola on hand are perfect to encourage healthier snack times. This also supplies them with a snack that won’t spike their blood sugar and energy levels. For a nutritious after school snack consider making this Vibrant Health Recipe for Cinnamon Swirl No-Bake Protein Balls, a healthy take on warm, buttery cinnamon rolls full of healthy ingredients that the whole family will love.
- Find creative ways daily to incorporate more protein + greens: One way to incorporate more healthy ingredients is to make smoothies. Smoothies can be great for fitting in superfood ingredients such as flax, spinach, different fruits, or berries. The key is starting with ingredients that will not overpower the taste. Vibrant Health’s Green Vibrance + protein is a great choice for getting in a healthy dose of vegan protein along with 70+ superfoods and nutrients. Available in creamy Vanilla Bean, this multitasking protein powder contains 25 billion probiotics to help in improving digestion as well as boosting immunity. Two scoops come to just 110 calories and can even serve as a healthy breakfast base or filling snack.
- Plan active things in to do as a family: One habit that benefits both physical and mental health is exercise. Finding creative ways to weave in more physical fitness as a family is a great way to make staying in shape fun again. This could be as simple as doing yard work together on a sunny day, going on a daily walk together, tossing the frisbee, or signing up for a holiday 5k. Studies show that the family environment is a major predictor of childhood obesity so whether you are walking, running, or dancing, the key is to get moving!
- Eat together around the table: A simple yet powerful habit is gathering around the table at predictable meal times as a family. Not only is this a set aside time to connect with your child and strengthen your relationship, but it is also a great time to show them how to build a more balanced plate. Gathering around the table each night can help to strengthen social skills and even to eat more mindfully (which can happen less on the go or in front of the television). Modeling healthy eating habits on your own plate is key. Kids are always watching!
Staying active and eating right are important. With kids often looking to their parents or caregivers as an example, it is extra important to build your own rock solid and healthy habits first. Creating healthy habits with your family means finding ones that are sustainable as well as enjoyable. With your help, your family can begin to adopt healthier habits for eating, sleep, and staying active that keep them feeling vibrant and healthy for many years to come!