As a parent, one of your main responsibilities is keeping your kids healthy. Of course, as you will have realized by now, this is easier said than done. From unhealthy foods and hectic lifestyles, it can often seem like it is harder and harder to make sure that your kids are fit and strong.
The good news, though, is that things don’t have to be quite so difficult. As long as you understand the fundamental elements of raising a healthy family, it becomes easier to tackle. So, on this note, here are the top things that you should know:
A Guide to Raising a Healthy Family
Table of Contents
1. Start at the Very Beginning – Learn About Infant Nutrition
Most parents aren’t provided with too much information regarding infant nutrition. However, infants are just like children and adults – they need to consume a balanced diet if they are going to grow and develop properly.
Now, one of the reasons that most people aren’t coached on infant nutrition is because most babies are naturally fed complete foods. For instance, if you are breastfeeding your little one, they are automatically getting all the nutrients that they need.
Of course, not all babies can be breastfed. It is quite possible that, for some reason or another, you will need to give your child baby formula. In this instance, you will need to pay close attention to the kind of formula that you are buying.
As Little One Mag, advisory source of baby items explains, there are three types of formula. These are milk-based, soy milk, and lactose-free formulas. Now, the exact one that you choose should be based on your baby’s needs.
For the most part, milk-based formulas are the most common option. However, if your baby is lactose intolerant or can’t digest cow’s milk, you will have to try out a different product. In most instances, getting a doctor’s advice can make it easier to decide what the best product for you and your baby is.
If you decide to make your own choice, extensive research is key. Go ahead and check the ingredient list to make sure that only natural and necessary ingredients are included. Also stay up-to-date on recalls, changes to the ingredients, and more.
See Also: 15 Best Baby Wipes Review
2. Introducing Your Baby to Solid Food the Right Way
At around 5 or 6 months, your baby may be able to start eating actual food. They will still need to continue to drink breast milk or formula. However, certain foods can help to supplement their diet as they continue to grow.
Always check with your doctor before introducing your baby to solids. This way, you will be actually be able to determine if they are ready or not. Also, depending on your baby’s particular needs, your doctor may advice you to start them on specific foods.
If they aren’t any special recommendations, though, you can most likely start your baby on single grain cereals that is mixed with breast milk or baby formula. These cereals are fortified with iron – a nutrient that your baby is in need of at this point of their life.
Once they have gotten the hang of the cereal, you can then begin to introduce vegetables and fruits. However, make sure to introduce just one fruit or veggie at a time. Then, keep an eye out for any signs of intolerance or allergy. If there is no such sign, you can move onto another fruit or vegetable. Eventually, you will be able to mix and match produce without fearing any side effects.
3. Keeping Up With Toddler Nutrition
As any parent can tell you, mealtimes with toddlers can be tricky. For one thing, they are pretty strong-willed and striving for independence at this point. So, you can expect some pushback when trying to get them to try new foods.
There is also the fact that their growth is slowing down. As such, they may not feel as hungry. Combine these two factors and you end up with some fussy eaters on your hand. Fortunately, not all is lost, though!
First things first, always know the appropriate portions to serve toddlers. In most cases, they need 1/4th of an adult portion. Bear this in mind when you are serving them. This way, you won’t end up forcing them to eat more than their little bodies can handle.
Now, when feeding a toddler, you should pay attention to these food groups:
- Wholegrains – limit processed flours
- Vegetables – offer a wide variety, including leafy vegetables.
- Fruits – focus on whole fruits rather than fruit juice
- Dairy – look for low-fat, high-calcium products
- Protein – opt for lean meats and fish. Include non-meat protein sources like nuts, peas, beans, and seeds
It can take toddlers a while to get used to new foods. So, you shouldn’t get discouraged if they refuse to eat a particular item. Don’t force them either, try something else and offer them up the same option a few days later. It may take a few tries to get things right.
4. Keeping School Age Children Healthy
The nutritional requirements for students are similar to that of toddlers. They simply need to eat larger quantities. The good news is that children of this age are more accepting of different foods. The bad news, though, is you are typically competing with advertisements and even other children when trying to steer your kids towards healthy foods.
First and foremost, make sure that your kids eat breakfast each day. This ensures that they are starting their day off right. Now, you don’t have to prepare a big breakfast. Fruit, healthy cereals, peanut butter sandwiches, and even wholegrain bagels will do just fine.
Your other task is to make sure that they are surrounded by healthy foods. Try to avoid keeping processed, salty, or other unhealthy snacks or desserts in the house. This way, if your kids do get hungry, they will automatically look for the fruit, nuts, or seeds that you keep instead.
Also, take advantage of the times of the day that your kid is most likely to be hungry. Make sure to offer up healthy options like veggies, hummus, fruit, and low-sugar yogurt. They will be more likely to gobble them up.
At this point, it is a good idea to also involve your kids in the food selection and preparation process. Take them grocery shopping and let them pick out various fruits and vegetables. Get into the habit of preparing meals together as well. Children of this age will be pretty excited to taste the fruits of their labor.
5. Dealing with the Realities of Junk Food
Of course, your kids are probably going to beg you for junk food and dessert at some point or another. So, how do you deal with these temptations?
Well, to begin with, don’t outlaw junk food completely. This will only make kids crave it more. At the same time, don’t use it as a reward or a bribe for eating healthy foods or anything really. They will quickly latch onto this tactic, eroding their understanding of a healthy diet.
One thing that you can try to do is to make healthier versions of junk foods. Instead of buying a bag of chips, make a baked version at home. Don’t buy store-bought brownies and cookies, make them yourself. In fact, look for healthy recipes that are lower in fats and sugars.
In many instances, keeping these foods out of the home is an excellent start. Eventually, your kids will learn to reach for fruits, veggies, and healthier options. With enough time, this should become automatic.
6. Continuing a Healthy Diet During Adolescence
Teens may be more prone to unhealthy eating than other age groups. This is because they are away from the home more often. And, during these periods, they have greater control over what they eat. Thus, there is a tendency to opt for fast food or similarly unhealthy options.
The good thing is that teens have a better understanding of diet and health. So, having frank conversations about what kind of foods they should be eating and why can go a long way in improving their overall diet.
Now, during this period, many teens experience a growth spurt. As such, they tend to be hungry – they are also more likely to reach for whatever food is most convenient. This is why you should always make sure that you pack plenty of low-calorie, low-sugar snacks for them.
7. Your Family’s Health – Beyond the Diet
While diet is certainly important in maintaining general wellbeing, there are other factors that come into play here as well. This includes plenty of fresh air and activity. Make sure that kids can play and run around outdoors at least an hour a day. On a similar note, their screen time should be the bare minimum.
You should also appreciate that kids feel stress and anxiety as keenly as adults too. And, this frame of mind can actually have a negative impact on their health. Encourage your kids to open up and talk about how they are feeling. Come up with actionable and effective ways for kids to deal with their stress. This can create a lifelong ability to deal with such circumstances.
There is a lot that you need to know about keeping your family healthy. However, the more that you know, the better equipped you will be to lead them down the right path. In turn, you can guarantee that they will be healthier, happier people.