March is Nutrition Month and there is no time like the present to get you and your family on the path to a healthy lifestyle. T-fal is relaunching their popular Healthy Cooking for Healthy Kids Program this month with a some free tools and a lot of information on making healthy choices. Check out this site for some great tracking tools on kids health and activities. My favourite tool is the healthy living reward chart because there is a section where kids can earn game time with activity time.
Snacks ready to go
One of the reasons that processed and packaged foods look more appealing is because they are all ready to go. It is so easy to grab a prepackaged cookie and toss it into a lunch bag. In our fast-paced world, we’ve become wired to do everything as quickly as possible. Instead, wash your fruit and vegetables when you get them home. Go as far as sectioning some grapes into a container or some baggies so you can quickly grab them to make lunches.
Limit juice, severely
You are not hurting your child by sending them into school with a water bottle. Juice is a rare occurrence in our home, making an appearance for celebrations and sometimes friend visits. Do you know what will give you the vitamin equivalent of eating one apple? Eating one apple will. There is a time and place for juice, but daily at school is not it.
When you hear “I’m thirsty.”, make the first option water or milk. When I give them a choice, I ask if they want it with or without an ice cube.
You can still eat most of your family favourites for meals and snacks. Research healthy alternatives to substitute for some of the unhealthier ingredients. Replacing full-fat products with their reduced fat, or other alternatives makes meals healthier and often provides more vitamins and nutrients. Exchange some mayonnaise recipes with avocado, reduce some sugar recipes by using honey, or agave, and more. If you are unsure, just Google ‘<name of unhealthy ingredient> substitute’.
Along with choices, look at changing the way you prepare your food. Baking instead of frying or using appliances that specifically cut down on the amount of oil you use are good options for everyone.
The T-fal Actifry, only requires one tablespoon of oil to prepare family favourites such as french fries and chicken nuggets, which would otherwise be fried in oils high in Trans fats. Recognized by the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Actifry is a valuable tool to help parents introduce their families to building healthier nutritional habits.
I get it, we are all busy. ‘Busy’ almost seems like a disease these days. But look at it; who creates our ‘busy’. Fit in active play with your kids. Not so that they will play, but so that they will see you play and will realize that it is important not because you say it is, but because you do it too.
Our winters are long. Investing in a membership at your local pool, activity games (exercise, dance, etc) that can be played on game consoles, or gym memberships (with kids programs) is a great way to set aside some family time for indoor activities.
Alternatively, there are many options that don’t require any additional funds. Flooding a section of your yard for skating, sledding, and building snow forts can be a lot of fun on the milder days. Remember snow angels?
Getting active benefits everyone on many levels. It creates a healthier family and opens up more lines for communication and connecting with your kids.
Talk to your children about health
Your conversations around food, and health should be positive, age-appropriate, and you should always be talking about the benefits of eating the right foods and how amazing your body is that it can grow and heal itself. Talk about the importance of giving your body what it needs (eg. activity, healthy food, sleep, water, etc). My youngest thinks it is ‘crazy‘ that her skin heals itself when she gets a cut. It’s old news to us, but foster how amazing it is for them and how a healthy body can do that so easily and their ‘buy in’ for healthy snacks will be easier.
If you always tell your child to just eat the healthy food, but don’t share how it helps them and why, what do you think they will ask for at snack time when they aren’t with you?
There’s no time like the present; use this Nutrition Month to start healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Make sure to check out the T-Fal Healthy Cooking for Healthy Kids program for more information.