Right now, keeping your family healthy is more important than ever. Most Americans have learned that one of the best ways to do that is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Making that a habit, along with mask-wearing and social distancing, can often keep illness at bay.
But COVID-19 safety precautions are only one piece of the puzzle. If you want to prioritize the well-being of your loved ones, you may want to consider how you can boost your immune systems in other ways. Although many of us have turned to comfort food as a means to cope with our current crisis, taking a closer look at what you eat may hold the key to lifelong health. Of course, that’s a lot easier when you form habits at a young age. But what if your kids aren’t currently interested in healthy eating? The following tips may help you guide them into making more nutritious choices.
Cook Together In the Kitchen
More than 37% of Americans say they cooked between three and five meals per week during 2019. Now that more of us are staying home, this provides you with a great opportunity to get help in the kitchen. Not only can this make meal preparation go more quickly, but it’s a great way to pique your kids’ interest in what they eat. When your children feel like they’re playing an active role in food selection and preparation, they’ll be more invested in the outcome and will experience a sense of pride when it’s time to serve the meal. Get them more involved in grocery shopping and let them learn about how food is grown by visiting farmers’ markets in your area. Then, give them some simple tasks to do when it’s time to make lunch or dinner and learn more about the foods they like. Chances are, picky eaters will find out about a lot of fresh fruits and veggies that they otherwise might have dismissed. And if they get the chance to play chef, their entire attitude about mealtime might change.
Keep Better Snacks On-Hand
Hungry kids won’t want to wait to fuel up; instead, they’ll grab what’s most convenient. If you have a bunch of processed snacks in the pantry or freezer at home, that’s probably what your kids will immediately go for — especially if healthy selections will take much longer to prepare. You can make it easy to grab-and-go healthier alternatives if you do the prep work beforehand and keep junkier options out of the house entirely. Cut up fresh fruit or veggies each morning and either pack them for school or keep them cold in the fridge. You might also consider making homemade energy bites or keeping things like string cheese, unsalted nuts, dried fruit, and Greek yogurt around at all times. If you store these snacks in places that are easy for your kids to reach and to see, they’ll be more likely to choose them when hunger strikes.
Start a Family Garden
Gardening can be a great way to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle and add to your home’s value. But for many, it’s a solution to poor eating. Around 30% of people who garden today say they do so to grow fresh vegetables, while 25% garden in order to obtain higher quality and better-tasting food. It can also help you save money on your grocery bills, which can be a plus during the pandemic. Although it may be a little late in the season to start a garden, planning ahead for the fall harvest can offer a variable bounty of natural delights. There are certain things you can continue to grow indoors during winter, like herbs you can use to flavor your dishes. Come spring, plan ahead for your planting and encourage your kids to get involved. Not only can they feel proud about what they grow and enjoy the delicious fruits (and vegetables) of their labor, but they’ll also become more interested in the life cycle and learn a lot in the process.
It’s not always easy to curb your kids’ cravings for junk food — and you shouldn’t expect them to completely cut chips and candy out of their diets. But with these tips in mind, you can encourage your whole family to embrace whole, nutritious foods (and even learn to like them).