Most parents know just how important it is that they try to get their kids eating healthy right from the time they begin to eat solid foods. And it is especially important if those kids are active in sports like gymnastics.
Being aware of this fact and actually managing to implement all the right diet changes can be rather tough though, because kids are, let’s be honest, very picky eaters.
Parents are also not really helped in their efforts to get their kids eating healthy by some of the mainstream media, which is still filled with tempting commercials for all kinds of junk foods. Here though are some ways that you can try to overcome both those flashy ads and your own child’s preferences to get them eating a diet that is better for their health and will give them all the energy they need to pursue the sports they love.
Get Social in the Kitchen
However busy you are, if you make the effort to include kids in the food preparation process, especially younger ones, they are more likely to be interested in the good food that you are preparing for them. Even a toddler can help stir sauces or help put together a sandwich. In addition, if a child learns how to prepare healthier foods on their own it is likely to be a habit that they will take into adulthood with them.
Teach Your Kids About the Food They Eat
Kids love to learn and there are some rather fascinating facts behind healthy foods that they will probably find very interesting. The process of creating dairy foods from milk, how bees make honey, how vegetables grow in the ground, teaching kids about where their food comes from, and about some of the bad stuff like pesticides, may encourage them to see things like that ‘yukky’ broccoli in a different light.
Mix Things Up
If parents are too rigid when planning their children’s eating patterns they are naturally going to rebel. This can be especially true of the parents of young athletes. However, if you caught any of the interviews that Olympic champion Simone Biles gave this summer you probably know that Nutella and dark chocolate are some of her favorite snacks and her coaches incorporate them into her training diet with ease.
The occasional salty or sweet treat is OK and it would be almost cruel to ban them altogether. The real key to lifelong healthy eating, the thing you are trying to encourage is following a balanced diet. Inflicting ‘fad’ diets on a child, things like raw food or veganism, is really not fair, especially since a child’s nutrition needs are very different to that of an adult, especially for a kid active in sports.
You can introduce healthier foods in a fun way. Substituting turkey burgers for the beef variety, or cauliflower fries for the potato kind are gradual changes to very familiar foods that even the pickiest eaters probably will not even notice. Even if they do, persevere but do not be too pushy. Stick to the good stuff that they will eat and gradually try again with the foods they were less than keen to try.
Set a Good Example
Every child, however young or old, looks to their parents for cues about just how hey should behave an that extends to the way they eat. If you try to get children to eat a healthier diet but then ‘cheat’ yourself then you really are defeating the point of the exercise and are likely to fail.
Healthy eating really does have to be a family effort. This means that you may have to overcome some of our own long held aversions to certain foods if you ever want your children to eat them. Volumes of research have shown that our eating patterns as adults, good and bad, are formed in large part by those of our parents and close family, so it is up to you to be the best possible example (and yes, eat your broccoli!)
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