With the best will in the world, it's a challenge to create a healthy end of year season for adults and kids alike. However, after a sugary festive time, why not add some balance to children's diets by focusing on health and diet awareness this January. This way you can kickstart a healthy 2014, so youngsters can start as they mean to go on.
January is the perfect time to give some attention to getting kids back on track after a little too much sugar and way too many snacks over the holidays. Declare the first month of 2014 as being all about creating an awareness about health in the minds of little ones and adopting a healthy eating plan too. They key to a successful campaign is going about it in the right way.
Don't get kids on a guilt trip!
Making youngsters feel bad about their indulgences over New Year is far from a great idea. Connecting food with negative emotions and thoughts doesn't lead to a good place psychologically, let alone creating a healthy eating habit. Look forward not back and focus on January as a month of change.
Don't play the blame game!
If you've let meal plans and healthy eating slip through the holidays then own it and don't start beating yourself up about it. No adult is perfect and despite the impression you may get from those really capable parent types, nobody is faultless when it comes to always doing the best for their kids. Recognize why you made mistakes though. Were you simply too busy or just not organized enough to ensure mealtimes were on healthy target?
Make it fun and don't lecture!
Droning on to kids about what they should be eating is not going to get them on-side. Instead, try talking to them about different foods and how the body uses food as fuel. Do some research online and find out some really fun food facts and amazing trivia to grab their attention. Get their imaginations going by discussing favorite healthy meals, unique meal combinations, and what foods they would like to try that are good for you.
Make meals interactive!
Give kids a choice with each food group, so that they can mix and match to create their own personalized meal. You don't need to overcomplicate matters, just keep it simple. You could for example offer a choice of peas, corn or carrots, with mashed potato or baked wedges. As long as all the options are a healthy choice then you are in a win-win situation in creating a balanced meal, especially where fussy eaters are concerned
Get youngsters involved in writing a list of groceries and helping put these in your cart, preferably from local, independent stores wherever possible, gives you the opportunity to discuss what you eat as a family. You can also give young people a choice, such as asking them what fruit they would like for the week ahead. When youngsters feel in control, you might be amazed at how much they want to make responsible decisions.
Connect with nature!
It wouldn't be surprising if kids today think chicken nuggets grow on trees. There is a real disconnect between the food on our plates and where it actually comes from. Visit a farm or grow your own sweet peas to really help strengthen the link with nature. You could even make time for picking fruit later in the year to make a healthy dessert.
Be playful but productive and creative when it comes to introducing new ideas about food in 2014. A concerted effort in January to bring greater awareness to diet will pay off for the rest of the year, as healthy habits are formed.