Eating Healthy with Team Family
As a parent of a child with diabetes, you’re not only responsible for getting them to eat healthy when they’re sitting at the dinner table, you’re also teaching them how to make good choices when they’re on their own.
Parenting can be tough, especially when kids start testing their independence and developing physically and emotionally. Sure, you know the difference between a healthy snack and movie theater popcorn, but do you ever feel like it’s not worth the argument?
Here are some ideas to encourage kids to make healthy choices—with or without your reminders.
- Create a family-team atmosphere. Our kids are always watching us—and to a certain extent, their eating habits are usually modeled after ours. Try encouraging good choices simply by eating what you want your child to eat. Another idea is to try new foods as a family—whether it’s a new entrée or a newly-introduced fruit or veggie from the market.
- Stock up on healthy snacks. Try to keep a good supply of healthy snacks ready to go: fruit slices, grapes, berries, fresh-cut vegetable sticks or cucumber slices, low-fat cheese, popcorn and pretzels. These ready-to-eat snacks give your family options and independence with snack choices. Plus, letting children contribute to their own food choices can help them feel more empowered.
- Stick to a known schedule. Sometimes knowing the routine can help kids have more confidence regarding what to expect and may cut down on a few of the arguments. You already know this tactic works with things like bedtime and school—try keeping a regular schedule for meals. If life is too crazy for a set meal routine for the whole day, try prioritizing breakfast. After a night of fasting, your child’s sugar can be pretty low in the morning—and a good breakfast will help your child think, feel and work better.
- Encourage her self-esteem. Teenagers, especially girls, are often intensely focused on body image, and this is the time when eating disorders can appear. Do what you can to promote a healthy, positive self-image.
- Be flexible. Everybody slips up now and then, even adults. Try to make it clear you don’t expect perfection from your child. When you run into problems, be honest and forgiving, and let them know you’ll work with them to get back on track. Remember, occasional sweets are okay, in moderation.
The bottom line is this—parenting can be incredibly challenging, but pulling together as a family can help create a healthy foundation that your children will follow into adulthood.