We all want what’s best for our children, and of course, their physical health is a huge part of that. Ensuring that they’re physically fit, not missing any important nutrients and are able to grow and thrive is important for any parent. But kids don’t always make this easy, and this can be a huge source of frustration to us as caregivers. Here are some of the ways you can ensure that your kids stay healthy, and put them on a path for good health for the rest of their lives.

Make Exercise Fun

Things are a lot different now to how they probably were when you grew up. Now that the internet, smartphones, gaming consoles and other technology is so available, it can be a struggle getting kids away from their precious screens. However getting them up and active is easy if you make it fun. You could enroll them into a sport or class that they enjoy which will teach them various skills, boost their confidence and improve their fitness. For example, you could take them to gymnastics training center as a lot of these do activities for children! At the weekends you could go on family hikes or bike rides, play frisbee at the park or kick a ball around. You could hire a bouncy castle or take them to a trampoline park or the pool as a treat, or you could even buy your children a big trampoline with Afterpay. All of these will allow them to get in the exercise that they need without it feeling like a chore, especially if you were to do the latter. Kids need at least sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week, so having some fun activities you can do will allow them to meet those targets.

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Keep Mealtimes Calm and Relaxed

When you have a fussy child who is refusing food (or wanting to eat too much), it’s easy for mealtimes to become stressful. As adults we know that children need the right nutrition and balance in order to grow and thrive- it can be frustrating and make your feel guilty when they make it difficult getting what they need. However becoming stressed or angry will only exacerbate issues, so keeping calm and relaxed is key. Let your child see you filling up on a rainbow of healthy foods, in time they will come to mirror your behavior. Try them with different things, not becoming focused or annoyed when they turn things down. Look at government guidelines and advice for things like portion sizes.

Sneak Goodness Into Meals

There are plenty of tricks you need when it comes to food as a parent. Since many kids will refuse the things that are good for them, you have to find ways of including the good stuff. This could be serving up tasty fruit smoothies for breakfast (even kids that refuse whole fruit will generally drink juice and smoothies). You could disguise finely chopped vegetables in ground meat, and vegetables like spinach can be added to many dishes without it altering the taste. The exact amount of fruits and vegetables that children need a day depends on their age, but for four to eight-year-olds they need one and a half cups of fruit and one and a half cups of vegetables a day. Including them into your main meals in this way will make it easier for them to reach this goal.

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Promote Healthy Snacking

Along with healthy meals, snacking in the right way can be a great way to teach kids good attitudes around food. You could have a bowl of fresh fruit which children are allowed to help themselves to when they’re peckish. Unlike refined sugar and salty snacks we generally don’t overeat when it comes to fruit. This means that when they’re reaching for the fruit bowl, you know it’s because they’re hungry and not eating for comfort or due to boredom. Small portions of dried fruit or cut up veggies dipped into hummus make ideal snacks for hungry kids. Mini low fat cheese portions are also good as provide sustenance and calcium, but be sure to keep an eye on the fat and salt content of their overall diet. If you don’t buy unhealthy snacks, even as occasional treats then your children will know not to ask for them. Instead, they will learn to snack when they’re hungry which promotes good habits for later in life.

Address any Underlying Health or Psychological Issues

Kids being fussy with food is pretty normal, and is something that most parents will face from time to time. If you keep trying them with different things, eventually you should find plenty of healthy foods that they enjoy eating. Tastes can change and develop over time too, so just because they’ve refused certain things once doesn’t mean they won’t like them in future. Another issue you might have on the opposite end of the scale is children eating too much. Of course, obesity can lead to a whole range of health issues and also means there’s a strong chance they will be obese in adulthood too. Try and nip this in the bud, so you set them up for the best chance at a healthy future. You could learn about healing care pediatrics which includes things like weight issues and obesity. A professional’s opinion is invaluable, it prevents you from accidently causing more harm than good. Putting children on to a strict healthy diet, for example, might lead to a food obsession, which can make the problem worse. There also might be an underlying health issue which is affecting their appetite, so addressing this first will, of course, be essential in solving the problem.

Everything you do now is laying the groundwork for your child’s attitudes towards diet and exercise later in life. Educating them about the importance of these things, and keeping it fun and interesting is the best way to grab their attention on the subjects. Try to keep your cool during the difficult times, and always be a positive role model for your kids. Chances are they will adopt your attitudes towards health as they get older.

What steps do you take to ensure your children will grow up happy and healthy?