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Raising Happy, Healthy Kids on a Budget

Feb 15, 2024 11:03AM ● By Nikki Ducas
Balancing school, extracurricular activities and the sundry of other family commitments, it feels like a struggle at times to gather together as a family for dinner or get much needed exercise that is intrinsic to family life.

While the drive-thru may seem like a better alternative than a sit down dinner on a busy, over scheduled night, more than likely it won’t sit well in your stomach and one shouldn’t count being seat belted in the car as a wholesome family gathering.

As parents it is our responsibility to emulate healthy eating. My husband and I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. Ever since our children were able to sit at the table, we’ve expected them to at least try what was on their plate and most of the time they liked it.

For years my boys have heard me say “your father and I don’t eat bad food” and what do you know, the teen and tween, are finally realizing this! Don’t get me wrong, there are still certain foods they absolutely refuse to eat, but seeing how much we enjoy our healthy food choices has definitely made them more adventurous eaters. Given the opportunity they do tend to choose healthier food options.

Including children in your weekly meal planning and inviting them to help with meal prep also helps them get excited about what’s on their plate. They’re more likely to try if they’ve had a hand in making it.

With a bit of meal planning, it is possible to prepare healthy meals and have a few minutes with the family before dividing and conquering all the things. Plus, home cooked meals are healthier and more cost-effective per person than the drive-thru.

The same mind-set can be said for exercise. Children who see their parents exercising regularly are more likely to implement those same habits as they grow up. Teens and tweens don’t have to join a gym to get exercise, just being outside as a family motivates our boys to be active and is a healthy way of spending quality time together. Exercise boosts moods, adds joy and connects families.

Try new activities that the whole family can do together like hiking, daily walks with the dog or a family game of soccer or basketball. In addition, there is usually laughter, which releases endorphins. Family time doesn’t have to cost anything and tends to be our boys’ favorite memories.

It is also important to know what the suggested food serving size is for your child. These are based on age, gender, and activity level to be correlated for their maximum heath benefit.

Creating a family environment with healthy foods and fun physical activity encourages children to lead happier, healthier lives.

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