One of life’s greatest pleasures is enjoying a sumptuous meal with your family. When your loved ones are gathered around the table, taking their fill of delicious, healthy food, conversation flows smoothly.
For us parents, mealtimes present the perfect opportunity to get to know our children a little better. Over the dinner table, stories are told, milestones are celebrated, and bonds strengthened. It is also during mealtimes that we have yet another way to show our children how much we love them – by preparing for them nutritious meals and teaching them to eat healthy so that they may start strong in life.
Teaching our children the fundamentals of healthy eating starts with being mindful of what we buy in the supermarket and planning the menu well to ensure that each meal is balanced. Planning a healthy menu is always a challenge, but I find comfort in cookbooks as well as the culinary treasure trove that is the Internet. Plenty of sites offer plenty of suggestions for healthy meals. These have definitely helped me make mealtimes more exciting for my family.
My preparation doesn’t stop with planning the menu. It extends to shopping for fresh, healthy ingredients. While it’s very tempting to cruise down the aisles for chocolates and chips, I speed through those sections as much as possible. Instead, I take my time at the produce section, keeping my eye out for the freshest finds.
If I have the kids with me, I ask them to check the food labels. I share with them what I know about good ingredients as well as elements or additives that we don’t want in our food. One food item that we always buy in bulk is Mott’s 100% Apple Juice. Other food items list down all sorts of ingredients. Here are the ingredients of Mott’s 100% Apple Juice: Water, Apple Juice Concentrate, and Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C). What could be better than that?!
At home, I make sure to store my finds properly, and experiment with our cook on healthy cooking techniques. There is more to cooking than frying after all. There’s also sauteing, grilling, and baking.
Serving my children healthy and delicious meals is just one way of allowing them to start strong when it comes to making good wellness choices. I also take time to talk to them and teach them about what’s healthy and what’s not. More importantly, I discuss with them why so they can make better choices themselves. When I read articles on healthy eating or healthy cooking, I share with them the information I am learning as well.
This approach goes beyond the four walls of our home. When we eat out, we also make it a teaching moment. My husband Gary and I share with them which dish is healthier over another. In most cases, simple encouragement works whenever they make good health decisions. Giving them a pat on the back or verbally praising them reinforces the lessons.
Like most anything, modeling good behavior is the most effective way of teaching our children to make good health choices. If they see me making good choices, then they follow, too.