Leading a healthy lifestyle, which includes eating nutritious foods and being active, is typically a learned behaviour. When it comes to parenting, it isn’t enough to tell your kids to adopt healthy eating habits and lead a healthy lifestyle when you yourself are not doing the same. What’s the saying? You must practice what you preach! Kids learn behaviours from a young age, whether they are positive or negative. Did you know parents can encourage and promote healthy eating and a more active lifestyle as young as infancy? This leads to raising healthy children who will become healthy adults!
What does healthy eating and an active lifestyle look like? Is it difficult to adopt? Is there such a thing as “too little too late?” The answer is: anyone can change their lifestyle and eating habits at any age. By showing your kids that healthy eating and being active have long-term benefits, they can learn positive behaviours that they can pass onto their own kids one day.
Building healthy eating habits can start with including your kids in food preparation and grocery shopping, which also promotes quality family time, an important part of the process. When kids learn to enjoy preparing nutritious meals, they more often than not also enjoy buying the foods to prepare these meals.
Data shows that children who don’t lead an active lifestyle and make poor food choices are more susceptible to health issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mental health issues.
Why Healthy Eating is Important for Raising Healthy Children
According to Childhood Obesity Foundation, it is estimated that as of 2019, over 150 million kids around the world are classified as obese. This number is expected to balloon to 206 million by 2025. It is clear that Canada is in the midst of an obesity problem. Cue parents. By following Canada’s Food Guide, parents can help their children make good food choices.
Aside from fueling optimal growth in children, healthy eating also influences brain development and learning. Research indicates that a diet, which does not provide the essential nutrients kids need, contributes to decreased cognitive development.
For healthy and easy meal/snack ideas to raise healthy children, visit the Alberta Health Services website.
Promoting Active Living
We live in a world ruled by technology. Today’s youth, and adults, are fully connected to their devices and it’s affecting their overall health! Children and their parents alike are leading more sedentary lifestyles. In fact, studies revealed that from 2013 – 2014, nearly half of Canadians aged 12 and older claimed to be moderately active in their leisure time. This means, most people aren’t getting the adequate amount of physical activity needed to stay healthy
By incorporating daily physical activity, you lower your and your kids’ risk of developing high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, obesity, anxiety, and depression. Leading an active lifestyle produces more energy, improves posture and balance, helps to maintain a healthy weight, and contributes to getting adequate sleep.
Family Time is Precious Time
Getting active as a family has a slew of benefits – and they aren’t just health related. Promoting physical activity and healthy eating can bring families closer together. Why not establish a set night when the entire crew can go to the grocery store together to pick out everyone’s favourite (healthy) foods? Then, make it a point to prepare meals together. The bond that is created during these times helps build positive relationships between parent and child. It also encourages healthy dialogue.
When it comes to being active together, planning doesn’t have to be a chore. Pick activities that the whole family enjoys. Go to the park and throw a Frisbee around! Walk the dog every night as a family. Go to the local pool and swim for an hour or two. There are so many fun activities that don’t have to feel like “exercise.”
Get your Kids Involved with Sports
It’s understandable that not all kids will enjoy participating in intense sporting activities. However, it’s important to introduce different sports to children so they can decide which sport appeals to them the most. Check out the City of Calgary’s Program Guide to see what activities are being offered across the city.