In the warmer months we make every effort to keep our kids active outdoors. Their summers are filled with activities that keep them active and busy. A normal summer for my kids will involve swim lessons, soccer, gymnastics, t-ball, ballet, nature walks, and a local weekly event called Fun Run.
Fun run is a program sponsored my many local businesses and put together by the local running organization. Every Friday in the summer, we meet at a local university track and the kids run a lap against peers in their age group. Every child is awarded a ribbon at the end of the race. At the very end of the program, every child is awarded a trophy. My children love this program.
My 2-year-old is actually the most competitive of the bunch. He is the only one concerned with “winning,” even though there is no value placed on the position in which a child finishes the race. Nevertheless, he runs at full force and yes, week after week he would finish first!
With the program over for the season, my ten-year old still shows an interest in running. My wife was a cross-country runner in high school and she is very supportive and encouraging towards running events. We allow our ten-year old you use the cardio equipment downstairs. She does very well, going for short low intensity jogs or short bouts on the elliptical.
As I try to push healthier food options on my children, I am learning more about their individual tastes and ways to incorporate them. My ten-year old will eat anything I give her, whether she likes it or not, because she is too old to debate it and to be honest, my wife and I won’t tolerate it. Problem solved. My six-year-old has developed a taste for green beans and celery. I eat green beans daily and celery can be added to any meal or had on the side. I have no problem adding natural peanut butter to the celery, which gets all of the kids to eat it. My four-year old daughter goes crazy for avocado and tomatoes. Homemade guacamole solves that problem, another food I eat almost daily for the great fat content.
It just so happens that my four-year old is a twig, and she weighs just as much as my two-year old. It isn’t uncommon for her to eat a whole avocado in one sitting and then ask for more. No problem there. My two-year old fusses over just about anything I put on his plate, unless it is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For some reason, he prefers food that is on my plate. If he gets to eat off of my plate, he will eat chicken, tilapia, broccoli, eggs, and just about anything else I eat. Since I eat frequently, the kids are snacking throughout the day as they beg for my food and steal my macros. Between the healthy snacking throughout the day and the assortment of items at the dinner table, I would still say the kids eat fairly well, even if I do have to fight them sometimes.
My only regret at this time is that I did not adopt this lifestyle sooner. Had I known ten years ago what I know now, things might be a little different for me and my family. I wish I could say that my kids have never been exposed to McDonald’s or anything of the sort, but that might be a little unrealistic. Having been at this for quite some time already, I can honestly and proudly say that my kids rarely ask to eat out. When they ask for snacks they most often chose a piece of fruit, carrots, or a rice cake with peanut butter. We have no chips in our house and we have no soda. My kids drink milk and water. I don’t even keep juice in the house.
Just think about this: If I continue in this trend, my kids will not know a life where there was junk in the house. A life where I didn’t compete or where my wife and I didn’t work out every day would also be unknown. Vegetables and fruit as snacks would be normal and treats like candy and cookies would only be on rare occasions like parties or Halloween. The kids can’t miss or crave something they don’t know. I have heard stories of families bringing up kids on vegetarian or vegan diets. It is possible! As parents we are responsible for paving the path for our children.
For all of you parents out there, think back to when your baby switched from milk to jar food. What was in those jars? They are fruit and veggies; peas, carrots, corn, sweet potatoes. Granted, a lot of those jars probably ended up on the baby, in their hair, on you, or on the floor, but you kept offering it, right? Why? Because it was more nutritious and responsible than letting the baby fill up on teething crackers and puffed rice treats.
The responsibility we take on by having children does not lessen as they age or become more independent. Children learn what they live and live what they learn. You guide them from infancy through to adulthood, as the tried and true example of whom to be and how to be. Your actions will influence those who are closest to you, so chose your actions wisely.
This article was researched and written by Follow @JAstorina
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