Healthy family eating is important to start early. But why?
Recently, I saw a meme that said something along the lines of, "You breastfeed for two years and give your kid organic baby food, just to see them chowing down on Doritos and Mountain Dew when they're young adults."
It's funny, but in a lot of cases, it's true. No matter how much we prioritize health family eating, they could easily grow up making unhealthy decisions.
As parents, we have to let that go. We can't control their whole lives.
But since we have control while they're young, that's when we should take their health seriously.
Here are three healthy eating tips for families when it comes to food and clean water, even if they grow up and develop unhealthy habits.
Healthy Eating Tips for Families #1: Health Begins Early in Life
For the most part, kids tend to physically handle unhealthy foods, sodas, etc. better than adults.
As we get older, we can't eat certain things without getting indigestion, for example. Our health risks also increase the longer we live.
Just because we don't see the negative health effects in children, that doesn't mean it's okay for them to eat junk daily.
Start healthy habits when they're young and you're more likely to see good results in their future.
You'll be glad you started them off with a healthy life. And they'll be glad you did too.
Healthy Eating Tips for Families #2: It's Your Duty to Take Charge
As a parent, it is our responsibility to make wise and responsible choices for our kids and promote healthy eating for the whole family from the very beginning.
We make conscious parenting decisions before they're even born.
We want to buy the safest crib and car seat. We make decisions about whether we'll use disposable or cloth diapers.
The list goes on and on and the decisions never seem to stop until they become adults.
If you start making health a priority from the very beginning, you'll most likely continue those habits as they grow. And so will they.
Even if your kids are older, you still have time to develop healthy family eating habits! It's never too late.
Tips for Starting Good Healthy Family Eating Early
Here are my personal tips for starting and continuing healthy habits:
- If possible, breastfeed. There's no shame if you can't! I know a lot of mothers struggle with this. But if it's possible, choose breastmilk over formula.
- Buy organic as much as you can. It can get expensive, but the more clean food you buy, the fewer chemicals your child is ingesting.
- Give your kids water over juice. Too many kids become adapted to sugary juice when they're little and they have a hard time learning to love water. I never gave my kids juice except for special occasions. It just wasn't in my house.
- Shop on the parameters of the store. Stick to the produce and protein areas of grocery stores mostly. You can't get everything you need there, but there are so many processed foods in those middle aisles. The less you buy there, the better.
- Be willing to be a "bad" parent. Your kids will always choose the unhealthy option over the healthy one. It's okay to give in sometimes, but be strong. Let your "no" be "no" even if they "hate" you for a few minutes.
Healthy Eating Tips for Families #3: Kids Need Directions for Healthy Living
I read something recently that stood out to me. It said, "Raise your kids so you can spoil your grandkids. Spoil your kids, and you'll be raising your grandkids."
Yikes! There's a lot of truth in that.
There are many areas where we need to "raise" our kids, and healthy eating is just one of those areas.
We're not just supposed to make the right decisions for our kids, we're supposed to teach them how to make the right decisions in the future.
How Can We Teach Our Kids About Healthy Family Eating?
First, we can introduce multiple healthy foods to our kids.
If they don't like vegetables when they're three, that doesn't mean they won't like them when they're six.
You keep introducing them, and many times kids will develop a taste and start to love vegetables.
You also teach them about why healthy foods are important to eat.
Share with them how healthy foods help them and how unhealthy foods can weaken their immune systems and make them sick.
Teach them how to read food labels. Show them labels with high fructose corn syrup and MSG and tell them how harmful these ingredients are, as well as many others.
My daughter started looking at food labels around the age of 10 (without my probing) and could tell what was healthy and unhealthy.
Teach them the difference between pasture-raised eggs and regular eggs.
Explain to them the distinctions between organic and non-organic meat.
Give them Berkey water to drink and explain to them that contaminated water can affect their health in the long-term and short-tern.
Some "Extremes" Adopted for Healthy Family Eating
By society's standards, my family has a few "extremes" when it comes to healthy diet for a family.
We don't really care what most people do with their kids; we do what we think is right.
Here are some examples of my family's extremes:
- We've never willingly taken our kids to McDonald's. There's been a handful of times they've eaten it (like if we visit a family member and they provide it for lunch), but it's never been a family choice. And since my kids never eat it, they think it's gross!
- In fact, for the most part, we avoid all fast-food restaurants. My kids have never experienced most fast-food restaurant food, and they're okay with that.
- For Halloween, we do trick-or-treat as a family, but at the end of the night, we sort through our candy and throw half of it away. Every day after that, they each throw away 5-10 pieces of candy. Yes, they get to enjoy some, but it’s not an overloaded sugar fest.
- The same is true for other holidays. Easter baskets have more little gifts than candy. We also don't bake an outrageous amount of sweets at Christmas. We enjoy desserts, but in small quantities.
Our Results Due to Good Health for My Family
What are the results of this health experiment for my kids? It's astonishing!
My kids hardly ever get sick! When they do, the symptoms are usually mild and they feel better in a day or two.
Within the last six months, they've each experienced about 24 hours of feeling ill.
In the fifteen years we've been parenting, we've only had to buy antibiotics one time for our kids. Between them, they’ve only ever had 3 ear infections.
They've never had the flu or strep throat.
Not to say that they couldn't get those illnesses in the future, but to date, they haven't. We believe a large part of this is due to our healthy choices.
While it's completely possible that our kids could grow up eating a ton of junk food, at least we started them on the right track to a healthy life.
And hopefully, they'll remember all of the health information we've shared with them over the years.
If not, at least we know we did all we could.
Healthy Living and Your Family
If you're not already, I strongly recommend you start making healthy family eating choices as soon as possible.
It will benefit them now AND in the future.
There are a lot of things we teach our kids and do for our kids.
Why not prioritize a lifestyle that can lead to many years of health, well-being, and happiness?