Thursday, January 12, 2012

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Kids are amazing little sponges that absorb everything around them.  They watch everything you do, including what you eat.  Also, kids can be very picky eaters, eating what they want to, when they want to.  When our oldest child was ready for solid foods, our pediatrician told us that as long as we got one good meal in him a day, we were doing all right!

As the years passed and they have been more willing to try new foods, we make it a point in our house to pass on healthy habits when it comes to food and exercise.  As you have read in earlier posts, my kids know I like to run.  They also like to help me stretch and do push-ups, or pretend to be my weights.  When I pack up my lunch in the morning, my oldest son watches me.  I point out all of the different fruits and vegetables in my lunch.  He sees a green apple, red pepper, orange carrot, yellow banana, and an orange this time of year.  He does not see pretzels, or cookies or chips.  He also asks me every night what I am eating for dinner and I tell him.  Then he wants to know if I am having an orange or a clementine for dessert. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t not deny the kids cookies, pretzels or chips.  I just limit the amount they can have and make sure they don’t get it every day. If we are going for a walk on the weekend, I will take snacks with us.  They may get a few crackers or a few pretzels, but that is always followed by either a banana or an apple. 

For holidays and birthdays, I usually make homemade cookies with the kids.  By choosing my own recipes, I am in charge of the ingredients, and I know exactly what we are all eating.  It feels good knowing that any sweets I make myself is healthier than anything store bought and prepackaged.

I’ve discovered another fun way to pass on good eating habits while spending some great quality time with my kids.  When I am chopping up fruits and vegetables, I let my older son stand on a stool and watch me.  (Safety first, of course, and you must teach your children to keep their hands away from the knife.)  Once your child gets a close up of all the beautiful colors of the fruits and vegetables, he might just turn in to a little taste tester as did my son.  He loves to nibble on the red pepper, carrots, watermelon, and cantaloupe while I am chopping it up.  And when the younger one sees what’s going on in the kitchen, he always wants to be part of the action and very quickly tries to climb into his high chair to join the party!

And so it goes with anything you are trying to teach to your children, you must first and foremost serve as a role model.  My wife and I put a lot of effort into helping our children eat nutritious foods that will help them to grow strong and stay healthy, and we know that the best way for them to learn these good habits is by watching us every day.  By eating a lot of natural and home-made foods ourselves and by encouraging them to join us while we are in the kitchen, we feel confident that we are setting a good foundation for the years to come.

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