Parents are often concerned about ensuring that their kids make the right choices. You want to make sure that they are safe, but you also know that they need to learn to thrive on their own.
One of the biggest problems facing children today is the nationwide obesity epidemic that threatens the health and well-being of millions of kids. Childhood obesity is so prevalent that it has topped the list of most pressing health crises, ahead of smoking and drug use. So, here are ways you can help your teen make healthy choices while staying within the family budget.
Healthy Eating Starts with the Whole Family
The healthy eating habits you model for your children guide them into eating well as they grow up. Start a healthy eating plan for all members of your family and it’ll be easier to restrict a child’s diet. Experts suggest purging the pantry and refrigerator of all unhealthy snacks and items and start a clean, healthy slate. Once you have a solid baseline to build on, you can continue your plan with the following budget-minded tips:
- Get teens involved in food choices. Rather than simply barking orders at your children, explain your concern over healthy eating and weight management and ask for their help. Visit the farmers market or produce section of the grocery store and ask them to pick out vegetables to cook for the week, and have them keep track of what everything costs.
- Teach your kids about where real food comes from. When a child has an appreciation of local fruits and vegetables, they will be more likely to enjoy those rather than a processed snack. What’s more, buying locally at farmers markets will likely cost a lot less than the snack foods your children usually reach for.
- Don’t eliminate all of their favorite treats. After all, treats are supposed to be for special occasions. A slice of cake at a party, an ice cream cone on a hot day. These traditions can still endure in a healthy household. The problems arise when cake is served after every meal and ice cream is served for breakfast.
- Explore exciting foods together. Most fast food is flavored with fat and salt. Healthy food can contain good fats, such as olive oil and avocados, but that should be limited. In its place, try seasonings and spices from all over the world. If you find one you like, you can buy in bulk from sites such as My Spice Sage.
- Eat as many meals as possible together as a family. Families have different schedules that may make communal meals difficult. When possible, eat together as a family. Don’t order takeout; instead, make a healthy meal together.
- Find replacement foods for unhealthy things your kids enjoy. If your kids love french fries, see if they’ll also enjoy homemade baked sweet potato fries. If they like buttery, cheesy mashed potatoes, try a lighter version using cauliflower.
Children Mirror Their Parents
Your kids are much more likely to follow these tips and painlessly transition to healthy eating if you adopt them for yourself. Make healthy eating a part of a family-wide quest for better health. Incorporate exercise — especially family group exercise — to keep the good health rolling. If your child has an interest in a particular sport, foster it. Look into second-hand stores like Play It Again Sports to find good used equipment.
The same rules apply to education. For example, if you’ve always wanted to earn a business degree in order to change careers or advance your current career, you can sign up for classes and take them online in the comfort of your own home. When your child sees you pursuing your dreams and taking classes to further your education, you will inspire them to do the same.
Avoiding the Temptation to Experiment with Drugs and Alcohol
Although obesity has topped drugs as a parent concern in recent years, addictive substances still pose a threat to your teenage children. Parents leading by example applies here as well. Although there is nothing wrong with socially acceptable drinking, be careful about drinking in front of your children. You have an opportunity to model responsible drinking, so make sure you send the right message. If need be, and to give you a little peace of mind, purchase an affordable child lock to ensure these items stay safely out of their reach.
Your children will be more likely to make healthy choices when they are presented as choices — budget-conscious choices, of course — rather than commandments. Practice what you preach, model responsible behavior, and build a healthy environment for your entire family.