8 Ways To Build a Lifetime of Healthy Habits For Your Kids

by Eden Chiuslekuda

(ECCT Natural Health Contributor. For more of her natural health & beauty tips, follow her page, ‘A Corner of Eden’ ).

15 February 2012 is International Childhood Cancer Day. As ECCT honours this month, we will be blogging about simple, healthy tips for your kids. Many people struggle to get their kids to eat healthily, however, many families have found success by picking one or more of the tips below to ensure their success.

1.       Minimize Or Eliminate Animal Proteins

Animal proteins have been linked to almost every degenerative disease imaginable, including cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  Vegetarians and vegans have been shown to have substantially less incidence of these diseases.  The desire for flesh foods, eggs and dairy is essentially learned for the most part.  If you emphasize vegetables, grains and fruit as the main components of their diet – with minimal inclusion of animal foods, you will be giving your children a leg up on a lifetime of good health.

2.       Go Easy On the Sugar

Sugar causes all kinds of degeneration in the body, and in holistic cancer treatments is a big no no as it feeds cancer cells.  (Scientific research has proved this to be true.)  Offer your children more savoury snacks and foods, than sweet, and try to offer fruit more than candy or cakes.  The taste for sugar is definitely also a learned, negative habit.

3.       Breastfeed When Possible, For as Long As Possible

Breastfed babies are significantly less likely to become obese, develop juvenile diabetes and have fewer incidents of infectious diseases.  Most kids that were breastfed for 6 months to 2 years have very strong immune systems.  While we are grateful to formula for saving lives when needed, human breastmilk is a much richer and superior, broad-spectrum nutritional base for human babies.  Also, children tend to be more open to the tastes of the food that the mother ate while breastfeeding, when they start eating solids. If you make good choices in pregnancy (when the taste buds are developing), and during breastfeeding, you are will have an easier time of it, influencing you child to prefer healthy foods.

4.       Garden With Your Kids

You would be surprised how much children love to plant seeds, watch them grow, then harvest the fruits of their labour.  They are much more likely to be excited to eat the fruits, veggies and grains they have grown themselves, than store-bought equivalents.  Besides, freshly picked produce always tastes more vibrant than something that has been sitting in a supermarket storage room for weeks.

Also, it does your children a world of good to spend time with relatives in the village (kumusha) learning how to cultivate crops.  A healthy respect for where organic food comes from will likely stay with them all their lives, if they are fortunate enough to gain this early exposure.

5.      Involve Your Children in Planning, Shopping For and Preparing Meals

Children love to feel included.  This will create greater enthusiasm for meal times and you will be surprised at what creative culinary genius may lie in your child’s mind.  Involving your children in meal planning and preparation gives them a solid preparation for making sensible choices as adults and is a great way to spend quality time with your kids, getting to know their preferences.

6.       Discuss the Nutritional Value of Foods with your Children

You would be surprised how much kids retain.  Just one or two facts about each dish you are preparing will help them choose meals with the appropriate nutritional balance.  For example, you can point out that bright red and orange veggies like carrots and bell peppers contain vitamin A which is good for your eyes.  (Incidentally the round cross-section of a carrot looks much like your pupils and a walnut looks like the brain which it is good for.)  These fun facts make your kids feel more connected and invested in healthy foods and are also a good incentive for you to do your research.

7.       Eat Whole Foods, Made From Scratch As Often As Possible.

Avoid pre-packaged and canned foods as much as possible.  Making the same thing from fresh ingredients usually only adds minutes to your prep time and the nutritional benefits are like night and day.  Packaged foods generally come with preservatives and fillers that cause disease and shorten lifespan.  They also tend to have way to much sugar, salt and bad fats than would be there otherwise had you made the food yourself.

8.       Eat together as a family.

In this world of excessive TV, internet and media, families rarely sit together for at least one meal a day anymore.  Eating together and going over your day is a nice way to bond as a family or to entertain guests.  It is also critical to support any family members experiencing particular health challenges that require dietary changes by not singling them out.  If one child needs to lose weight or eat less sugar, then the whole family should make those changes so that the challenged child does not get distracted, discouraged or feel like a leper.  After all, those changes will likely benefit everybody, regardless of whether they are ill or not, taking each person to a more optimal state of health.

*Remember to buy a copy of Hello Harare magazine (found in Harare, Zimbabwe) in February 2012, to support kids with cancer. Click here to see the Kidzcan Zimbabwe Facebook page.

*Pic sources: healthylivingnaturalbeauty.blogspot; healthyalberta.com


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