Everyone knows that eating healthy is essential for your family's health but how do you do it? With so many fast foods and unhealthy snacks vying for your child's attention how do you make healthy food more appealing? Most importantly, how do you instill healthy eating habits into your children so that they will make optimal food choices when eating outside of the home at school or with friends?
One of the best ways to make healthy food more fun and more appealing is to take advantage of the natural vibrant colors and textures that fresh fruits and vegetables have to offer. Kids love color and what better way to entice their appetites by engaging their eyes!
A good rule of thumb to follow when putting together a healthy snack or meal is to eat a rainbow a day and I'm not talking about a specific candy. Eating a rainbow a day refers to choosing fruits and vegetables of all of the colors of the rainbow and making sure to incorporate them into your diet everyday. When choosing a healthy meal or snack for your family remember that the more color you have the better.
This is because different colored fruits and vegetables have different phytonutrients (vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in plants) that your body needs. For example, blueberries have a very high level of proanthocyanidins which contribute to their powerful antioxidant effects . Carrots and cantaloupes have high levels of the antioxidant ß-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A .
Eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables every day will give your body the necessary nutrients to stay healthy and active.
Another great way to ensure that you're instilling healthy eating habits in your children is to give your kids fresh fruits and vegetables for snacks instead of processed foods. Instead of keeping a cupboard full of cookies, chips, and packaged goods, you could try placing a bowl full of colored fruits on the table or your children to snack on at will. Keeping processed goods out of the home will make it less likely for your kids to choose those snacks when they are out of the home.
During snack time or when packaging your child's lunches, you can place carrots, celery, and/or fresh shredded cabbage along with some hummus in your child's lunch bag for a healthy colorful crunchy snack.
Another tip to getting your children to eat healthy is to make it a game! Invite your children into a friendly competition to see who can get the most colorful 5 servings of fruit/vegetables a day. Print out this easy to use RAINBOW A DAY chart and pack it into your kids lunch or put it on the fridge and see who can eat the most colorful diet.
The most effective way to establish healthy eating habits in your children is to eat healthy for yourself. There is nothing more powerful and life changing than a child watching his/her parents at a young age making the healthiest food choices on a consistent basis. Your actions and example will be followed way more than your words will ever be.
By actively choosing better foods for your family, you can feel better and establish healthy eating habits in your children that will stay with them long after they become adults.
1.Huang, Wu-yang et al. "Survey Of Antioxidant Capacity And Phenolic Composition Of Blueberry, Blackberry, And Strawberry In Nanjing". Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B 13.2 (2012): 94-102.
2.Fleshman, Matthew K. et al. "Carotene And Novel Apocarotenoid Concentrations In Orange-Fleshedcucumis Melomelons: Determinations Of Beta-Carotene Bioaccessibility And Bioavailability". Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 59.9 (2011): 4448-4454.