HomeHealth & BehaviorHealth & Nutrition

Reader tips: Favorite ideas for healthy living

Teach your kids healthy living skills.

By GreatSchools Staff

Thanks to our many readers who shared their clever ways to teach healthy living habits to their children.

Here are a few of their suggestions:

Reading food labels

"We typically buy only organic, natural and whole foods. We have taught our children from day one how to read labels on food. We explain to them what the bad things are in food and how it will affect them now and in the long run. We like to purchase and prepare healthy food together. Now when my kids are at school or at a friend's, they know to ask if the product they are being served has hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup in it."

Making a food photo collage

"I made a collage of healthy food, putting pictures of the good nutritious food on a paper and another collage of pictures with junk food with pictures of unhealthy food. We often talk about these two collages. My children are very curious and they like to see the pictures. The last time we were out, my 2-year-old daughter saw a child drinking Coke. She said, 'Look, mother - junk food!'"

From pilates to biking: Making exercise part of the daily routine

"I have them do a form of exercise every day. We have an exercise schedule. Mondays and Fridays are 'free days' where the kids can pick their own outdoor activity. Tuesdays and Saturdays are yoga. Wednesdays and Sundays, we do Pilates (my own variation for the kids). Thursdays we do sports. In addition, the kids ride their bikes every day. The toddlers also stay very active. They have their own version of all the same activities I do with the older kids. The toddlers also have bikes to ride, but on days when we ride too far for them to keep up (and they are in a bike-attached canopy), I play music with them later and have them dance, jump and play. If you set a good pattern, they will automatically follow it. The same goes for the bad patterns, too."

Living the good life at the family spa

"I am a licensed massage therapist in Pasadena, Texas. One of our monthly quality family-time themes is 'Spa Night'! Mommy brings out the candles and Daddy puts on the relaxing CD. My kids hop up on my massage table after changing into a robe and get a muscle rubdown. Kids have so much homework, peer pressure and issues at schools these days. This is perfect for tension relief.

"The warmth and connection you bring your kids during Spa Nights is such a great gift for both you and the children! You can also take the time to clip fingernails and toenails (8-year-old boy!). My 14-year-old son loves to relax and be loved. My 13-year-old daughter loves to get free pedicures and manicures, and my 8-year-old son loves to live the good life!"

Comments from readers

"I enjoyed reading this and it is very important that we educate our children on proper nutritios eating habits and what we should use to keep toxins out of our homes and businesses. "
"Hi, I agree with you that teach our children to read food label is so important. Today problems start from grown up to not read enough. Or before that they do not know what good and bad that they suppose to look for. I was that way before. After I got sick with Lupus, I study nutrition and apply with my daily life style. It is really work. My health condition does not bother me for two years. My whole family's health are improvement from just need to pay more attention to what will we put in our month. How can we inspire others to think more about good nutrition food. Besides most of school age children do not have good breakfast before go out to school. All we know that mind and body need to work together. Thanks"
"I think those are all great ideas. I have 2 boys 9 and 10. Frtom an early age I always stressed the importance of eating right just like my mother did with me. But to keep it simple for them, I have them count how many fruits and vegetables they eat throughout the day, we have a goal of 5. Then each night I ask them what their count was for the day and if it's not 5 I ask them what they can do to get to that goal. As my boys are very competitive they of course try to out do each other. It seems to be working, they're more aware opf the choices they make trhoughout the day."