During both my pregnancies, I remember praying, wishing and hoping for a healthy baby; It’s all I wanted. I went to every scan, paid attention to food labels, took prenatal supplements (as repulsive as I found the folic acid) and I took the time to rest when it was needed. To this day, the health of my children remains a top priority and something I never want to take for granted.
As parents, our responsibilities are endless and we’re in a state of exhaustion almost everyday without fail. When it comes to nutrition, it can be tempting to opt for convenience over the right foods. I know this because I’ve fallen into that trap before… The scenario when you want your toddler to stop throwing a tantrum, so you give into another sweet or when they won’t eat, so you leave them alone to “keep the peace”.
We could all do with a little nudge in the right direction, so I put together 15 simple and effective ways that all families can use to stick to a healthy lifestyle.
1. Involve your children in the food preparation process – it’s fun and they get to experiment with new tastes and textures. Ask them to help you read recipes and food labels, to amplify the learning experience.
2. Prepare food and snacks in new and interesting ways – check out the frozen Yoghurt pops that Lesedi and I made this week.
To make them, you simply add yoghurt and the fruit of your choice into silicone cupcake holders and pop into the freezer for a few hours. Ta-daa
3. Lead by example – let your children see you drinking water, eating your vegetables and having breakfast (use it as bonding time over the weekend).
4. Get support – when you join the 1 Million Moms Pledge on Facebook, you will receive new tips, recipe ideas and the opportunity to talk to other moms and nutritional experts, every week for the rest of the year.
5. Pack healthy lunchboxes, include a treat on special days that they can look forward to.
6. Keep a set of healthy snacks like dried fruit or biltong in your bag; this will help you avoid that drive-through when you are all feeling peckish, while going from one errand to the next.
7. Spend more time outdoors and use it as your time to connect with your children. Last week, I tried something new and took a walk with the kids when I came back from work. I was surprised to see how refreshing it was. I came back energized and it felt good to have given them my full attention.
8. Encourage your child to participate in at least one extra mural at school.
9. Make delicious smoothies to disguise the veggies they do not like
10. Educate other caregivers – make health something that the whole family talks about, including your children’s nannies and caregivers, in that way you get everyone’s buy-in and your efforts aren’t wasted.
11. Focus on the healthy food they do love – Lesedi is the fussier eater in our home and instead of forcing him to eat every single vegetable; I try to prepare the ones he likes often.
12. Prepare food in advance – if you’re a working mom you wont always have time to cook a meal from scratch every day. When you have the chance to cook and freeze in advance, do yourself that favour.
13. Sneak in a compliment – when they make a healthy food choice on their own, acknowledge it. Not in a weird exaggerated way, but subtly.
14. Serve and mix new healthy foods with old favourites – it’s all about balance. They are more likely to entertain the plate if there is something that they love on it.
15. Stick to your grocery list and don’t buy those sweets – I have found that the less I buy sweets, the less my children ask for them, so yes, I’m the problem!
Did you know?
• Almost 1 in 5 South African children skip breakfast
• 84% of children between 1-9 years old are not having enough calcium
• 14% of South African children aged six to fourteen years are overweight or obese
Five effective actions you can take straightaway:
• Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables every day – they are nutrient rich sources for growing bodies and help to boost the body’s natural immune system.
• Have milk, maas or yoghurt every day
• Eat breakfast every day – good nutrition is directly associated with better school performance and well-being.
• Drink more water every day
• Move more every day
Join me and other moms by signing the pledge for heathy change NOW at the @KnowYourYoghurt Facebook page. Simple visit the page here
Remember that we are the best example to our children.
“Your children will become what you are. So be what you want them to be”
Modern Zulu Mom