My kids are growing up. Here’s what I hope they’ve learned about living healthy in the real world.
My daughter turned 17 today. And even though I still get to hold on to her at home for a little while longer, I feel that day on our horizon: the day when she flies from home, and turns her brave face to the world, and finds her place in it. I have complete faith in her. Still, it’s enough to make this mom’s heart ache!
I got thinking last night about what I’ve taught my kids in the years I’ve been blessed to be their mom. Especially about taking care of your body and mind–because that’s so important to me.
I thought: if there was a way to sum up these lessons, in a teeny tiny space, what would that look like?
So I tried to do it. I distilled what I know about healthy families down to its most practical, essential form, and I wrote it down (old-school!) on a notecard. So I can share it with my own kids, and you can share it with yours. Here’s what the notecard says:
1) Serve a fruit or a veggie with every meal.
Sometimes it’ll be Parmesan roasted Brussels sprouts. Sometimes, it’ll just be an apple with lunch. The important thing is to think of fruits and veggies as important to every meal.
2) Cook at least five meals a week at home with/for your family.
It doesn’t matter if it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner. What matters is that you (or your significant other!) puts love and conscience into the food your family eats.
3) Include two (or more) food groups with every snack.
Teach variety with snacks, and help kids feel satisfied by including more than one food group snacks. Think: carrots and hummus, apples and peanut butter, or cheese and crackers.
4) Eat a serving of healthy fats every day.
Remember not to fear fats, because they help your body and brain stay healthy! Nuts, seeds, coconut, avocados, fish, and extra virgin olive oil set the stage for a lifetime of good health.
5) Have fewer than 16 grams of added sugar in your typical day.
Eat plenty of fruit, but keep added sugar-treats to a minimum. This one is not easy in today’s food world, but it’s well worth it.
6) Play hard–“break a sweat” once a day, preferably outside.
It might mean sports, a hike, an afternoon at the playground, or something else. Build at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your family’s day.
7) Eat a screen-free meal together at least once a day.
Sit at the table with your kids. Disconnect from your device. Bring yourself, and whatever you’re thinking and feeling. You don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be you!
Do all of life’s lessons fit onto a notecard? I wish! They’re far too long, and messy. Still, I hope you found a small piece of wisdom to take away from my note card that can help you (or your grown kids!) adjust your compass towards a healthier life.
Finally, if my note card really resonates with you, and you’re ready to make these lasting changes to your family’s eating habits, I can help you! We’ve just made our Family Fresh Meal Plans freeeeee for everyone to try for 30 days.
For all you hard-working moms and dads doing your best to raise healthy kids, I see you! Here’s to all our best efforts this year!
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I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.Learn More about Natalie