Be A Healthy Role Model

Dominque Simon
Family & Consumer Science's Agent

Young children love to follow what their parents do. They are likely to copy your table manners, your likes and dislikes and your willingness to try new foods. Here are a few tips on how to be a healthy role model:

  • Go shopping together. Grocery shopping is a perfect time to teach your child about food and nutrition. Discuss where vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein foods come from. Encourage your children to help select healthy foods from the store.
  • Cook together. Provide opportunities for young children to help prepare meals and snacks. Not only is cooking a great way to spend time together but a wonderful time for teaching valuable skills in the kitchen.
  • Keep things positive. Let your child see you enjoying new and healthy foods. Discourage your family members from making faces or negative comments about unfamiliar foods.
  • Offer the same foods for everyone. Avoid being a “short-order cook” by making different dishes to please children. Short-order cooking teaches children they don’t have to be willing to try unfamiliar foods. It’s easier and less stressful to plan family meals when everyone eats the same thing.
  • Set a good example for physical activity. Let them see you be active. Make play time, family time. Walk, run, and play with your child rather than sitting on the sidelines.

By following the above tips parents will be providing their children with great nutrition education in a fun way. With the Christmas holiday approaching this will be a great time to display healthy eating habits in front of your children. The possibility for holiday treats are endless candy, cookies, cakes, and frostings that are put together in the shape of Santa and snowmen. These foods are so much fun, but often add extra calories, fat, sugar and salt to our diet. Consider making some changes this holiday season by planning some holiday snacks that are not only fun but also healthy. Here are some ideas to help you create healthy snacks in fun designs:

  • Use whole grain cereals to make cereal treats. Then make holiday shapes such as Christmas trees.
  • Use dark chocolate for dipping or drizzling to get more antioxidants.
  • Serve a healthy trail mix made of peanuts, pretzels, whole grain cereals and a few pieces of candy in an individual bag or cup decorated with fun holiday cutouts instead of cookies or candies.
  • Use whole grain flour when making cutout cookies, and decorate with a light, colorful glaze.
  • Serve an oatmeal cookie on a plate surrounded by thin slices of red and green apples, you can also add raisins and cheese pieces for an additional healthy treat option.
  • Serve fun snacks like apple smiles made from apple slices, peanut butter, and miniature marshmallows, or ants on a log made from celery, peanut butter, and raisins.
  • Choose holiday cookie recipes that include fruits such as dried cranberries, dates, or raisins. If adding chocolate chip, choose dark chocolate.
  • Serve hot chocolate made from scratch with fat free or low fat milk. If choosing instant hot chocolate powder, choose ones with less sugar and added calcium.

Low-Fat Homemade Cocoa-Ingredients

4 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
5 tsp. sugar
2 c. skim milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Stir together cocoa and sugar in medium saucepan. Add milk and heat slowly to desired temperature. Remove and stir in vanilla.
Makes 2 servings.

Enjoy the Holidays and remember to be a good role model for all of the little eyes that look up to you.