Wednesday, October 14, 2015

12 Ways to Sneak Attack Your Kids with Wellness

In many ways, our world today works faster, better and stronger than any other era in history; however, in many ways, our world also suffers from a busy-minded lifestyle, usually affecting the youngest generation the most. Although I don't yet have children of my own, I have about 10 years experience coaching kids ages 5-16 for sports conditioning and cheerleading. Plus, I've been a kid, and I feel like that gives me some credibility to relate to them (maybe I still feel like a kid sometimes ...). That being said, I don't want to ever come across as critical or demanding, especially to you parents (I have the utmost respect and adoration for you). My hope is that the following set of tips help you approach your kids creatively to instill principles of healthy habits.

"But I say walk and live habitually in the Holy Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh [of human nature without God]." — Galatians 5:16 Amplified Version

The Word urges us to deny our flesh, instill discipline and create healthy habits, but this verse also reminds us that we must be guided by God to live that way each and every day. We are not strong enough to do it on our own, and this principle, above all, is the most important one to pass on to your kids. For more on learning discipline for a healthy spirit, soul and body, read The Daily Decision to Be Healthy.

1. Make food flexible.
Forget the "clean your plate" rule. Embrace flexible eating and allow your kids to listen to their bodies. I'd recommend giving your kids options at first (all healthy, of course), but let them choose which foods they want to eat and how much. Make sure to offer them a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein.
Yup. I've always had big hair. I told you I've been a kid!

2. Breakfast builds the body.
Do not, I repeat, do not forget about breakfast. And toaster strudels don't count. Cereal doesn't even count (unless it's low in sugar and high in fiber). Protect your kids from the horrible marketing tools big companies are using and educate yourself enough to know what's healthy and what's not. Make it a big enough priority to make time in the morning to start your kids' days off right. Eating a healthy breakfast and ideally, getting a good conversation (maybe a prayer, some scripture, etc), even if it's only 10 minutes-worth can make a world of a difference in the overall mood of the day. For some healthy breakfast ideas, read 16 Ways to Spice Up Your Oatmeal.

3. Variety is the spice of life.
Don't hate me for saying this, but try taking your kids to the grocery store. You may need to have a pep talk with them before you do, making sure they know the purpose of the trip to the store, but designate a day when you and your kids get to choose different foods they want to try. You may even want to search the Internet for a healthy recipe. Have your kids choose which kinds of meals they want to try, and splurge on new ingredients (mostly whole foods) like turnips, squash, sweet potatoes, fish, a new herb like chives, or maybe a new cultural food like sushi. Try to keep your kids (and your hubby) involved in the kitchen creations. Be flexible, expecting the mess to be bigger and the noise to be louder, but enjoy it. Laugh at each other and have fun creating the meal, so that when you share it, it means something. Be sure to try new foods yourself, and experience new things alongside your kids.

4. Add veggies to staple recipes.
I'll never forget the time when my mom sneaked yellow squash in my maccaroni. It wasn't until the last bite that she told us. "No way!" we said. Other ideas include bulking up soups with beans, tomatoes, onions, turnips, mushrooms and green beans. Or adding tofu to chicken dishes. Or adding cauliflower to rice or mashed potatoes. Or adding butternut squash to potato salad. Or adding apple sauce (no sugar added) to muffins. Or adding black beans to brownies (what? Yes.).

5. Play before work.
It's important that you teach your kids the value of play time, when "play time" includes exercise or active things. For example, I value my exercise. It's a priority high enough in my life that I make sure to get this done before I sit and work on my computer, and definitely before I rest and watch Netflix. If you teach your kids that exercise is play, and allow them to do it before they do their homework, then they will value it more. They will probably be more focused when they sit down for homework too, because they've had the rest of mind and the revitalization of their active bodies.

6. Compliment them. 
This may sound like a no-brainer, but I imagine you parents are so busy trying to get from point A to point B, and just keeping your kids alive (that's how it was for me and my three brothers), that it may slip your mind every now and then how fragile your kids' body images are. It's in the years between 5-15 that a person's body image is truly defined. Encourage your kids to build a positive self-image by pointing out their strengths. Be intentional to compliment their physical attributes as well as teach them the value of good ethics, a good attitude and love for his or herself, others and of course, for God.

7. Grow your own groceries.
So, you don't have to grow a full-blown garden, but keeping a couple herbs in the kitchen window can spark a curiosity in your kids to learn about sustainability, cooking and maybe even helping out at mealtime. Like having a pet, maintaining a garden or a plant teaches you how to care for something other than yourself, helping kids learn responsibility. It also can help kids learn to try new flavors and new foods.

8. Put the 'cool' back in the lunch bag.
Take your kids shopping for a new lunch kit, and let them pick it out. While shopping, talk to them about the kinds of foods that would be best to put in it every day and why that food is healthy for them. Often, kids like to know the "why" of things. For girls, tell them this lunch bag is like a cute purse. Tell them they need to take care of it and bring it every day. When you get home, teach them how to make a healthy lunch and make sure they help you make it before school each day.

9. Shake up their water bottle.
Micah played all kinds of sports as a kid.
While shopping for that cool lunch pack, pick out a sweet water bottle to go along with it. Tell them the only way they get a legit water bottle/cantene/etc is if they promise to use it every day. Kids need to drink at least 1 oz. of water per pound of body weight every day. For example, a 55-pound kiddo needs to drink at least 55-65 oz. of water every day just to fight dehydration. Teach them how to measure this out, and reward them if they meet the challenge each week.

10. Make exercise fun.
If I had to run on the treadmill for half an hour each day, every day, I'd hate exercise too. Some kids may hate to run laps in P.E. Some may have a negative perception of exercise, in general, especially if they've heard you or other adults complain about working out. Exercise can include games like playing tag, hide and go seek, jumping on the trampoline, playing at the playground, or games like DDR (Dance Dance Revolution - yes!). Outdoor activities like rollerblading, bicycles (not scooters), hopscotch, and jump rope are still cool; not to mention sports like basketball, tennis, soccer, football, lacrosse, baseball, gymnastics, etc. This isn't rocket science, but we have to encourage our kids to choose what they like and show them to how to prioritize this kind of "play time," before we can expect them to want to do it themselves.

11. Reward them with anti-foods. 
Don't let your love be expressed through food. Rewarding kids with food or treats not only mimics how you reward your dogs (guilty), but it also instills a coping mechanism in kids that makes them go to food for emotional support. Instead, reward them with play time or special you-and-them time, like a trip to the mall, arcade or park. Invest your time instead of your dollars on junk food. As you do this, you can also teach them better ways to cope with stress.

12. Show 'em how it's done.
Be a role model of wellness to them by living your own life in the same manner. I can hear the echo of my parents saying "Do as I say, not as I do," and as an adult now, I can relate, but I still don't think that's a good mantra. Don't let your age be an excuse to not begin a healthy lifestyle yourself. It's not enough to teach your kids wellness; you have to live it to leave a true legacy.

For a complete guide to wellness for the family, register for 21 Days to a Healthy Home, your guide to creating lifelong habits of nutrition, exercise and positive self-image. 

For more tips and resources, follow me on social media: FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram. Also, check out my Services to find out how I can personally help you get fit from the inside out. 


  1. Hi there,

    Loved your post. Excited to see this' words about wantability. So proud to work with you and fellow lead learners at your site.When you take responsibility for yourself, you inevitably take responsibility for others. Your responsible actions will lead as an example and when it comes to your family this is of the utmost importanceKnow more: health and wellness tips for kids

    I enjoy it
    Best wishes for you

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