Living a natural lifestyle isn’t something that comes naturally to everyone. Our upbringing and how we are raised has a lot to do with the choices we make in daily life. Children who are raised eating healthy foods and who learn why caring for the environment is important at an early age are more likely to remember these lessons and make better decisions later in life. As a parent, there’s only so much you can do to instill these values in your kids, but every little bit helps for setting the next generation on a path of wellness and sustainability.
Here are some practical ways to teach your kids about healthy eating and natural living at home and out in your community.
Don’t Keep Unhealthy Foods in the House
Stocking the cupboards and refrigerator with chips, cookies, and preservative-filled foods will reinforce the fact that these are common staples in a household. However, it is also counterproductive to place hard restrictions on food or label certain foods as good or bad. These parenting habits can cause children to rebel out of spite or even develop eating disorders. Instead, keep unhealthy options out of the house and explain why other foods are beneficial because of things your child cares about, such as being strong to play sports or focused to do well on a test at school.
Set a Good Example
Probably the most important parenting lesson to remember is to set a good example for your kids while eating meals and snacks. They will learn their earliest lessons and have their earliest memories about food from you, and this is also a great “excuse” to live a healthier life yourself as an adult. Redirect kids from unhealthy options to healthier ones instead of nagging them, such as homemade roasted potatoes instead of French fries or dried fruit and nuts instead of candy.
Explore the Great Outdoors
Getting outside with your kids gets them active and also learning about the environment around them. Many kids these days get stuck in front of screens because their parents are too busy or too addicted to screen time themselves. Even very young kids can learn to enjoy hiking, biking, and going on runs around the neighborhood. As kids get older, join local outdoor trips to introduce them to adventure sports, like kayaking and rock climbing. They might find a hobby they’re passionate about or at least make some new friends and get exposed to the beautiful landscapes our planet has to offer.
Include Kids on Shopping Trips
Whether it’s for food, clothes, or school supplies, try to take your kids shopping with you as much as possible. Of course, this is often easier said than done with little ones who like to throw tantrums in the aisles. But shopping trips also provide valuable lessons about buying healthy foods, local products, organic fabrics, and sustainable materials. Plan extended shopping trips together when time allows so that you can read labels together and learn about where your food, clothing, cleaning supplies, and homeopathic remedies come from and how they’re made.
Visit an Organic Farm
Another great way to learn about healthy eating is to visit an organic farm in your area or on vacation when you travel together. Some working farms allow visitors and even offer kid-friendly activities to keep little ones entertained. Local Harvest has an online search tool to find farms to visit by state or zip code.
Volunteer Outdoors Together
Volunteering as a family is a wonderful way to work together towards a positive and productive goal while doing some good in the world. Local nonprofit organizations and volunteer coordinators can offer their expertise to help you teach kids about trees, waterways, and native animals, and environmental stewardship. Check with nearby state parks, arboretums, botanical gardens, and nature preserves for kid-friendly programs in your area.