5 Tips to Make Your Kids Even Healthier, Courtesy of FLOTUS Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama, Kids, White House GardenServing carrot sticks for snack time. Saying no dessert. Sending kids outside without an iPad in hand. We all know that these practically tyrannical rules make parents look like the worst people in the world to kids who see candy, sweets, and TV time as the secrets to a wonderful life. But, like FLOTUS Michelle Obama told us and about 150 other guests at the Let's Move! White House celebration on March 15, "We often have to make our kids do things that they don’t want to." That means incorporating her healthy Let's Move! tips into our own everyday lives.

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Right now we can practically hear you saying, "But, FLOTUS, it is so damn tough." And she knows that. But she also isn't letting any of us off the hook ... because our kids' lives are just too damn important. Explained the First Lady:

If our kids came home and told us -- which my kids would do -- 'I don’t like math,' we wouldn’t say, 'Okay, no more math classes for you. You’re done with that.' When they don’t want to go to the dentist, we don’t say, 'Okay, no more checkups, no more cleanings, no braces for you. You don’t like it, I’m not going to make you do it.' Of course we don’t do that. So why would we treat nutrition any differently? Why would we look at our kids and go, 'You don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.'

Even if you are one of the 80 million Americans who live in a city, town, or county that's been touched by a Let's Move! initiative, there are things that you can do at home to make wellness feel like a walk in the park (pun definitely intended) for you and your family.

1. Follow the MyPlate Rules

The First Lady isn't kidding when she says that there is a simple icon to help you make a healthy, balanced meal. It doesn't get easier than this when planning out the menu for the day. Simply make half your plate fruits and veggies and half of your grains whole grains, says Deb Eschmeyer, executive director of Let's Move! and senior policy advisor for nutrition. You can even visit ChooseMyPlate.gov for more tips and tricks and snazzy guides like this:MyPlate image

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2. Take Smart but Simple Steps

Granted, there are just some nights when take-out and on-the-go dinners are inevitable, but take a cue from the First Lady and do a little Sunday night prep. When she revamped her own house's diet (and we don't mean the White House), she started slowly. "I tried to cook more -- nothing crazy, just a few more home-cooked dinners each week. Maybe baked chicken on Monday, pasta and a salad on Wednesday. And I always tried to make a nice Sunday dinner that would provide leftovers for the week," she said.

"Instead of cookies and chips for snacks and sugary drinks, we switched to fruit and string cheese and lots of water," she added of swapping junk food with sweet and savory -- yet nutritious -- options. "And dessert in our household went from being a basic human right every night -- to being a special treat for weekends."


3. Start Your Own Garden

That's exactly what the First Lady did. While her White House Kitchen Garden now spans 1,700 square feet, all you really need is a small plot of land or a window box to grow some herbs. Not only will growing your own produce and herbs cut costs, but you will know exactly where your food has been and how it's been treated. So follow the First Lady and make early-April spring planting a yearly activity for you and the kids.

This is presidential kale, people! @whkitchengarden

A photo posted by The Stir (@the_stir) on

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4. Get Outside and Move

The First Lady and Let's Move! are pushing schools to provide 60 minutes of physical activity each day, as nutrition experts say that recess in schools is linked to better academic outcome and social performance. But that doesn't mean that kids should just become couch potatoes when the school bell rings in the afternoon. Go to a park, take a walk as a family, gather the kids for a weekend soccer game. And if you have a fourth grader, take advantage of President Barack Obama's Every Kid in a Park Program, which allows fourth graders and their families free admission to more than 2,000 federally managed sites. That means national forests and waters may trump the appeal of iPads and video games. Well, here's hoping.


5. Make Your Own Recipes

Well, there's a competitive incentive to this one, as our First Lady (along with PBS, the Department of Education, and the Department of Agriculture) are hosting the fifth annual Healthy Lunchtime Challenge. The contest urges kids ages 8 to 12 from around the country to put on their chef's hats to create an original healthy recipe (with parental supervision, of course). A winner from each state will then get to go to the Kids' "State Dinner" at the White House and taste their fellow winners' culinary masterpieces. Even if your kids aren't on their way to winning a James Beard award, they might actually like the feeling of rolling up their sleeves in the kitchen -- and if they're old enough, they might take on some dinnertime responsibilities.

As for the winners -- trust us: Getting to go to the White House is pretty damn cool. So, start cooking.

 

Images via © MICHAEL REYNOLDS/epa/Corbis; ChooseMyPlate.gov

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