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Posted on 06-28-2018

how to raise healthy eaters

Nutrition is paramount to nourish strong bodies and properly functioning brains.  

We are literally what we eat.  Our bodies create our cells with what we provide it to work with.  

When you pair eating healthy food with getting adjusted at their pediatric chiropractor, you’re able to maximize how well your child’s brain works.

As with any part of raising children, nutrition is no different - no one does a perfect job.

As a parent, you can help raise healthy eaters by doing your best to:

  • Serve balanced, nutritious meals and snacks with a variety of foods and on a regular basis.

  • Provide an atmosphere of welcome at mealtime with calm, pleasant meal times where adults and children can talk together.

  • Make simple food safety, such as washing hands, washing produce and helping part of every eating occasion, and

  • Set a good example of healthy eating.

As your children grow up, you can add in things like:

  • Allow your children to regulate what they eat and how much,

  • Teach your child how to make healthy food choices on their own,

  • Teach your child how to identify reliable food and nutrition resources.

As a parent, this is a daunting list.  Perhaps even laughable some days.  

What we’ve noticed above all else in making the biggest difference in establishing healthy nutrition habits in your child for their brain development are two things:

  1. Having regular family meals, and

  2. Involving the children in nutrition and meal prep from the beginning.

Make Family Meals a Priority

What happens when we have regular family meals?  

The research is pretty amazing...and extensive.

The results of the very simple (and sometimes not so simple) act of regular family meals are impressive with long lasting and life building benefits for your family and most importantly - for your children’s health and brain function.

Here’s an impressive list of 10 benefits of family meals:

  1. Kids tend to eat a wider variety of fruits and vegetables, including the all important vitamins and micronutrients,

  2. Boosts vocabulary and conversation skills,

  3. Less promiscuous behavior as teens, including, lower risk of drug use, teen pregnancy, depression and eating disorders, just to name a few,

  4. Better grades - being twice as likely to get A’s when the family had meals together 5-7 times a week…

  5. Better academic performance than even time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art,

  6. Less behavior problems at school and at home,

  7. Better relationships with their parents, including increased family unity

  8. Allows the family to reconnect,

  9. Lower anxiety and medical conditions,

  10. Not to mention developing dexterity with utensil use.

When teens were asked when do they talk to their parents?  The immediate answer every time was - dinnertime.

What makes the biggest difference at dinnertime?  The atmosphere. Warm, engaged and welcoming conversations.  

Decrease distractions:

No screens.  

No pets.

No music.

Just your family.

So you can reconnect and find out what’s going on in each other’s lives.  These small moments add up and create strong bonds that last and benefit generations.

What if you don’t have family meals together?  How do you begin to have family meals or to have more of them?  

Here are two ways to make it happen:

  1. Make it easy on yourself and look for ways to add just one family meal to the schedule. (If suppertime seems too hectic for a family dinner, schedule some time for a weekend breakfast or lunch.)

  2. After a month or two of this new routine, add another family meal to the schedule even as often as an additional one each week. Before you know it, you will be eating together on most days, and the benefits for your children will follow.

Involve Your Kids In The Kitchen

In the kitchen, in the garden, at the community berry patch, in the grocery store...anywhere that involves nutrition and they’re working with, thinking about, and helping with food.

Teach them to categorize food into groups:  fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and protein.

Teach them to “shop” recipes and choose new foods to try.  Have them help to gather the ingredients whether in the kitchen or in the store.  

Teach them to pick out something new to try from fresh, frozen, canned or dried foods each time.

As your children get older, teach them to menu plan and add more responsibility with the meal prep.  Teach them to read the food labels.

If you’ve already registered for Be Active Bingo, be thinking of activities you can involve your child in - in the kitchen.  This will support your efforts to raise them into active, engaged, high functioning, healthy, happy adults.

To register for Be Active Bingo - call or come in today!

Further reading:

http://pedschiroomaha.com/blog/pickyeater.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/01/12/the-most-important-thing-you-can-do-with-your-kids-eat-dinner-with-them/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.39aa5a22d081

https://thefamilydinnerproject.org/about-us/benefits-of-family-dinners/

https://www.eatright.org/food/nutrition/eating-as-a-family/raise-healthy-eaters-in-the-new-year