Every family benefits from adopting healthy habits, together! See our top 10 healthy habits for kids to find out which ones you’ve already achieved, and which ones to adopt as your next goal on your path to a healthier family.
Everyone wants their kids to be healthy and happy. But sometimes that end goal can feel overwhelming!
So we’re breaking down that big goal into ten manageable habits that your family can focus on to help you raise healthy kids.
In case TEN things sounds like a lot to remember, here’s more good news. You’re probably already implementing a few of these habits! Take a look at the 10 most important healthy habits for kids:
10 Most Important Healthy Habits for Kids
- Make half your meals fruits and vegetables. This is our number one recommendation. Kids who eat fruits and veggies at every meal fill up on high-fiber, high-nutrient foods in the right portions. And don’t worry if your picky eaters aren’t biting yet. Keep serving balanced meals and modeling healthy eating.
- Reduce added sugars. The average child gets 16% of their total calories from added sugars, a whopping 10 teaspoons per day! Added sugar has been linked to childhood obesity, chronic diseases, behavior problems, and more! Keep this number between 0-5%. See 50 low-sugar snack ideas here.
- Vary proteins. Protein is vital to children’s growing brains and bodies, and variety matters. Seafood, poultry, lean beef, eggs, dairy, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds are all good protein sources to included in a child’s diet.
- Practice good oral hygiene. Teaching kids to brush their teeth twice a day from a very young age will help prevent cavities, tooth decay and gum disease. Keeping your mouth healthy also includes eating less sugary foods – especially choosing water over juice and soda.
- Choose whole grains. Whole wheat, brown rice, oatmeal, and even popcorn are all whole grain foods that deliver fiber and B-vitamins in addition to an energy boost.
- Stick to four meals per day. Kids who are allowed to graze can have a reduced appetite and less desire to try new foods. It’s OK for children to get hungry between meals! When mealtime comes, they’ll have a heartier appetite for the nourishing dinner you serve.
- Prioritize sleep. With today’s busy schedules, a solid sleep routine can be hard to stick to. But kids who get the recommended amount of sleep for their age are healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally.
- Limit highly-processed foods. Many healthy foods like whole grain bread and peanut butter are “processed.” You don’t need to avoid these foods. But do try to limit HIGHLY-processed foods, which include artificial dyes, preservatives, refined fats and flours, and added sugars. Strive to cook from scratch using whole ingredients.
- Drink water. Kids don’t need sweetened drinks! Sugar sweetened beverages have been blamed for many of the health problems plaguing children today, including childhood obesity. These beverages also replace foods that have nutrients and fiber, which children need to grow. Stick to the good stuff: water.
- Play hard, especially outdoors. When kids spend part of each day engaging in physical play outside they enjoy better sleep, a stronger body, better mental health, and improved focus at school.
I hope you see this list as a daily practice, not a strict set of rules. Take what works for your family and make the changes that matter to YOU. Then teach those important lessons to your children little by little, day by day, until they become a seamless part of your family’s life.
Best of all, your kids will leave home equipped with habits to support a lifetime of good health. Cheers!
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