According to Candice Sessions, marketing manager for Laager, “as the New Year gets started, many of us are looking to get back on track from a health perspective, and we’re encouraging carers to take this opportunity to start building healthy habits with their children if these aren’t already in place”.
“Children will rapidly develop the habit of consuming meals that improve their nutrition and general well-being and receiving adequate fluids, without it being a struggle, with only a few easy modifications and constant reinforcement. It’s crucial that they be long-lasting and able to integrate into the family’s usual routine rather than being something just for the beginning of the year.”
Dietitian Mbali Mapholi, and partner of Laager Tea4Kidz, emphasises the importance of three factors while forming new habits: Implementing realistic and long-lasting improvements that can be sustained; consistency; and providing encouragement (focusing on the positives around the changes, not the negatives).
Here are Mapholi's top 6 suggestions for creating wholesome family practises in 2023:
Set an example
More is caught than taught. Being responsible for children means setting a good example and encouraging them to develop healthy behaviours. Even the child’s perceptions of nutrition and health may be influenced by the food or health terminology used at home. By setting a good example for your children, you may expose them to healthy behaviours either directly or indirectly. This includes making good food selections, packing nutritious lunches for both parents and kids, and engaging in a reasonable level of physical exercise. It also includes healthy practices like getting enough sleep and controlling your stress.
To encourage kids to develop healthy routines, it’s crucial to add to and support them. For instance, you may encourage your child to have breakfast before heading off to school and to eat dinner early enough so it can be digested before night. A healthy habit also includes obtaining enough sleep. Children who have a schedule can better prepare for the day since they are aware of what to expect.
Engage kids in cooking and grocery shopping
Children have naturally curious minds and a strong desire to explore new things. Take advantage of this by including kids as much as you can in the food buying process so they can learn about the entire food route. They could be inspired to try new, healthier meals as a result of this. Get them involved packing their lunches too.
Early exposure to nutritious meals can help youngsters develop a lifetime appreciation of the flavour and texture of these foods. Children who participate in the cooking process are exposed to different foods flavours and sensations. This is due to the fact that unexpected texture changes are one of the key reasons why kids detest some foods. However, kids are more likely to enjoy the textures when they are involved in handling food components both before and after preparation.
Children are naturally inclined to play. If given the chance, they will run and enjoy themselves. But while they’re at home unwinding, youngsters could fall into the trap of unrestricted or excessive screen time. By participating in the fun and setting an example, you may encourage these organic exercise behaviours. Take part in outdoor pursuits including biking, swimming, walking and sports.
Avoid using food as a reward
Food rewards may affect how your youngster reacts to particular foods. Giving kids snacks as a reward could influence them to value treats more highly than nutritious foods. Use non-food rewards when attempting to instil healthy behaviours to prevent developing a taste for “fun foods”, which should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
Eat less sugar
Consuming too much sugar can result in a variety of health issues, including obesity, diabetes and hyperactivity. Sugar consumption needs to be kept to a minimum, and natural sugars – like those found in fruits and whole foods – should always take precedence over processed sugars. The fact that sugar causes peaks and valleys in energy levels is a major problem, and regular sugar consumption may lead to a reliance on sugar in order to sustain energy levels and a sense of general well-being.
Fruit juices and carbonated beverages are two major sources of added sugar that kids frequently consume in considerable quantities. Get into the habit of offering them water or Rooibos tea instead. Discover a variety of flavoured teas that may be consumed hot or cold and are by nature sugar- and caffeine-free. Since Rooibos is already naturally sweet, it is not necessary to add sugar or honey.