These days it seems like raising healthy kids is a constant battle for many parents. Kids are constantly bombarded with advertising for sugary, processed and otherwise high-calorie and nutrition-devoid foods, while parents have less and less time to prepare home-cooked nutritious meals. Futher contributing to this problem is the fact that many kids participate in more sedentary activities, opting to watch TV and play video games, rather than playing outside and getting regular exercise. However, with a little effort, parents can utilize simple ideas that will help them to raise healthier kids.

Offer Nutritious Choices

Kids love to snack. Take this opportunity to fill their bodies with nutrient-packed foods. Try to avoid pre-packaged snack foods such as cheese & crackers, cereal bars and fruit chews that are high in salt, sugar, preservatives, and processed ingredients. Here are some healthy snack suggestions that are easy to prepare:

  • whole wheat pita bread cut into triangles and toasted in the oven, served with home-made salsa, guacamole or hummus
  • celery stalks stuffed with peanut butter
  • fresh fruit, cut up, and served with low-fat flavoured yogourt for dipping
  • peanut butter and banana wheels (spread peanut butter on a whole wheat tortilla, roll the tortilla around a whole banana, cut into 1/2 inch slices)
  • trail mix (unsalted nuts, peanuts, cashews, or almonds, sunflower seeds, dried  apricots, raisins, multi grain
  • Cheerios, whole wheat Chex cereal, granola)
Say Cheese!
  • cheesy critters — use cookie cutters to cut animal shapes from process cheese slices
  • fruit ‘n’ cheese kabobs — alternate cubes of mozarella cheese with chunks of fresh fruit on a skewer
  • cheese in a blanket — roll Black Diamond Cheestrings in deli sliced ham or turkey breast

Cheese is a highly nutritious snack food that goes great with fruits, vegetables and whole grain breads. In addition to being an excellent source of calcium, cheese is also a great source of protein. By weight, cheese has as much protein as meat. Our bodies need proteins to build and repair body tissues such as muscles and to produce antibodies that fight infection. Protein in cheese is made up of amino acids, several of which are essential for good health.

Get Your Kids Involved

Encourage your kids to help you with preparing meals and packing lunches. There is more chance that they will eat food that they have helped prepare, plus it is an opportunity for you to spend time together. When packing lunches you can get your kids into the life-long habit of eating from the 4 food groups by getting them to choose at least 1 food from each group.

Encourage Physical Activity

You can help your kids to be more physically active by doing things together as a family. During the week, make it a habit to go for a walk or bike-ride after dinner. During the winter you can bundle up and enjoy a walk in the snow. On weekends, try to plan at least one physical activity that the whole family can participate in, such as hiking, swimming, toboganning, etc. Also encourage your kids to participate in community recreation programs and team sports, such as soccer, hockey, basketball, baseball, tennis, etc.

Lead by Example

The best way to teach your kids how to live healthy is by living healthy yourself. Work physical activity into your daily routine, eat meals with your kids that include plenty of fruits and vegetables, and choose nutrititious snacks that are low in fat and sugar.