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You know the risks. A poor diet packed with fat, sugar and salt leads to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Would you wish that on your children and spouse? Of course not, and it should be enough reason to start eating balanced meals full of the fruits, veggies and protein that everyone needs to keep their bodies in form.

But there’s more to it. The way you eat, drink and love helps you cope with stress and anxiety plays an integral role in mental health. That means that a kid who grows up eating right and exercising will able to deal with any emotional trouble that life throws at them and with aplomb. Here are some ways you can give them that gift.

Lead by Example

They won’t eat healthy if you don’t. According to a pair of psychologists writing for Slate magazine, modeling the appropriate behavior has a much greater effect than simply telling your children what to do, and that can be a strong force for good if you’re willing to put down the bag of chips and eat a few carrot or celery spears yourself.

Teach Them, Too

They’ll be even more inclined to choose apples over cookies if you explain the basics of nutrition and how it affects their bodies. The key is giving them choices. For example, ask the little ones if they would like baby carrots or peas for dinner.

Shop Wisely

Shopping wisely begins before you even go to the store. Start by making a list that includes all the fruits, veggies, lean proteins and whole grains you need for the week, then have something to eat as you do not want to go by the snack aisle on an empty stomach and start straying from your plan. If you’re worried about temptation, stay near the perimeter of the store, as that’s where all of the whole foods are stored, chime in the folks at CookingLight.

Try New Recipes

So you’ve got the right meats and veggies, but do you know what to do with them? New recipes are a great way to sample exotic flavors while giving your healthy meal plan a kick in the butt. Chad, Greece and Israel boast some of the richest and leanest cuisines in the world, and they’re yours for the exploring if you want to serve up something exciting for your next family dinner.

Involve the Kids

You could use some help in the kitchen, and that’s a job for the little ones as they need to learn how to cook if they’re going to eat healthy as they grow older. It’s a crucial life skill that also helps in the development of fine motor skills through all that slicing, dicing and stirring. The best thing is, you’ll have no trouble convincing them to join you at the chopping board as there’s nothing else the little ones like more than playing adult.

Eat Together

You’ve cooked together, so enjoy the fruits of your labor together at the table. When they see you enjoying the soup or salad they helped make, it’ll encourage them to spend more time in the kitchen with you preparing healthy meals that have all the right stuff in terms of flavor and nutrients. Besides, it’s a great way for the family to spend time talking about their lives and catching up on their work and studies.

Make Healthy Snacks

Everyone needs something to nibble on from time to time. If you’re willing to put a little time into the preparation, you’ll find what you’re looking for by combining a few simple ingredients such as fruits, veggies, nuts and dairy to create delicious concoctions that add nothing to the waistline but keep your kids going throughout the day with plenty of energy.

With your guidance, the kids will develop healthy habits to last a lifetime and that means stronger bodies and minds so they can face any challenges in their studies or their work. It all begins in the kitchen.

Image via Pixabay.