As a Fitness and Nutrition Coach, I have often written about healthy and fit pregnant women. Now it’s time to take things a notch higher. It’s time to talk about a legacy of fitness for our children because let’s face it, Moms are Kings! Yes, I said it. Us girls are so powerful. We can change the trajectory of our family’s health for good, literally saving everyone money and time which otherwise would have been spent treating diet-related and diseases. We can run things in our homes, but it begins with the personal choices we make in your life. So, let me ask: Are you intentional about making available choices that will help your family live healthy and optimised lives? Or are you encouraging habits that jeopardize your family’s health?
Let me break this down
If you let your kids indulge only in junk food without having fruits, vegetables and salads as part of their diet, you are not just opening the door to cavities, diabetes and obesity , you are also enabling a lifestyle that might be hard to change in the future, especially when their health and appearance becomes a real cause for concern.
Recently, a client told me that the junk habit I was trying to break with my fitness program has been deeply ingrained in her from childhood. She explained further that she was the child who never agreed to eat food, so her mom would let her get away with all manner of junk food.
I am not sharing this to shame anyone, but rather to open our eyes to see the long-term effect of what we casually permit today.
As a young mother reading this, you have power over your children’s fitness. You need to let your children know that sometimes, you as their mother, have the final say, especially when it comes to food choices necessary for their optimum growth and development. In other words, the future of your children is not just in their hands, it is also in yours.
It’s All About Balance
Now I am not saying you shouldn’t let your kids have sweets and drinks because we are quick to tip to the other end of the spectrum insinuating that raising healthy kids involves never having a nice family treat at the neighbourhood Pizza and Ice cream place. No. it just means we must fight to ensure a balance. And balance doesn’t mean 50-50, balance means more real food and less junk, both in quantity and frequency.
When it comes to Lunchboxes for school, please don’t feel like you must have biscuits, wafers and drinks. An apple is a perfect snack. So are grapes, pears, and bananas. My son’s school has a ‘Fruit and water’ day where they insist nothing extra is allowed in the lunch box. I thought that was a brilliant idea and soon, I figured, why stop at one day? So, I increased it to 3 and then now 5 days a week. I am not saying this should be your new law, but I figured that fruits were a better option for him and drinking water is still the best.
Come to think of it, they are in school for say 8 hours, so it must be okay for them to drink only water during that time.
You can always have an ice cream day or a ‘Family treat day’ and let them know that some treats are only allowed on such days. You just find what works for your family and work it.
Get Creative and Don’t Stop
What you shouldn’t do though is give up on your child’s health and fitness. Kids can be neo-phobic, meaning they are usually not the most receptive to new foods. Plus, we all naturally would prefer sugary things so if your child chooses a chocolate bar over an apple, that is normal. You just insist on what it is you know is best for him.
When introducing new foods and fruits, the presentation is key. Keep it colourful and exciting. Buy colourful utensils. Involve them in the preparation and cooking process. Let them see you eat and enjoy those foods and fruits too. And if they struggle at first, do not stop. Continue to offer and insist, while being creative and introducing varieties until one day, they receive it with joy.
For instance, instead of giving a whole cucumber, add it to a sweet smoothie of pineapple and banana.
Cut it in slices and spread some peanut butter on it or cut into sticks and have them dip into yoghurt or any other nice spread
Chanel those creative juices right and don’t be afraid to invest tour time into research and practice till you find what works for you and your babies.
Don’t Forget Exercise
And when it comes to exercising, you can make it a whole lot of fun for them. An average kid already has boundless energy looking to be expended. All you need do is steward it right into productive physical activity for them. Instead of jumping from the mantlepiece to the table, invite them into a ‘Game of Jumping jacks and high knees’. Dance for 10 to 30 minutes with them. Go on a walk with them while discussing fun stuff. Run up and down the stairs. Buy them a mini skipping rope. Play catchers, races, football, and more outdoor with them. Don’t let your kid sit down and play at a screen or read a book all day. Balance physical activity with educational and mental activities.
Cheers to raising strong and healthy kids Mom. You got this.