Raising Healthy Kids

Easy Tips:

Recently I received a message from a doctor friend I met on Twitter. We follow each other, and share an interest in improving our own health, and that of others. Here’s what she wrote, “You have a lot of good tips for making eating healthy easier. You should share them on a blog,” Dr. Kristie Leong.

Another friend, one I’ve known offline for several years, sent me this message shortly thereafter, “I agree with Kristie. Your healthy eating tips go well with your theme of helping kids do well in school and earning scholarships,” Deborah Dian.

I respect both of these ladies, but didn’t want to start a second blog. As an alternative, I’ve added a page of simple ways to raise healthy kids to Road to Free College. Every few days, I’ll add to the easy tips below to encourage children to eat right and stay fit, so they’ll be able to follow the sixteen defining habits of scholarship winners and earn lots of free cash for college.
Make sure your kids are getting a total of sixty minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day. There are proven benefits that go beyond the physical. Find an age appropriate activity you can do with your them, and schedule time after dinner every day so you can. 

Show your kids how to wash their hands with soap and cool (not hot) water, so they eliminate germs, but don't damage their skin.

Teach your kids to put the LID down on the toilet before flushing, so tiny pieces of poo don't become airborne and land on everything, including them.

Push-ups should be encouraged for kids, especially boys. Studies show health benefits even later in life. So participate in the push-up challenge with your kids, but don’t stop when the fad fades away. 

In addition to eating well, parents need to ensure kids are developing muscle strength. How? Make sure they spend at least one hour daily outside playing or doing something that’s physically demanding. 

Instead of keeping your candy bowl out of sight, just don't fill them with candy. Try nuts, grapes or other fruit instead.

A simple way to avoid missing school for annual doctor or dental appointments, is to schedule them in advance for during summer vacation. When seeing an orthodontist, or other ongoing treatment, make 2-3 appointments in advance. Sure helps. 

Teach your kids to dance. Pick old styles you know, and let them teach you new ones. Find Soul Train and American Band Stand on YouTube. Have a dance party at home, with all types of music. Make it fun, dress up and be silly while getting lots of exercise. 

A family garden provides many other benefits besides just eating healthier food. They don't have to be huge, or elaborate. Check out Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, for easy instructions. Container gardens work great  too. 

Buy free standing bookshelves that fit your home’s décor. You can even start with just one. Assemble, and bolt to the wall studs in a spare room or hallway. Fill them with books you love. Repeat. Voilà, you have your own library. 

Lower body strength means a higher risk of injury.  Taking long walks and hikes, especially over challenging terrain, will help kids even if they aren’t participating in organized sports. For those who are, it’s even more important. 

Pick one repetitive task you do each week, like making school lunches, and create a routine for it. Once it's a habit, move on to something else. It works great for parents and kids alike. 

When it’s too hot or too cold to play outside, move the furniture to make room for indoor family games. Do some silly exercises performing like animals, bunny hop, frog squats, etc. Look them up online, if you need help thinking of them. Have fun together while improving family fitness. 

Teaching kids how to grow, prepare and eat healthy foods when they’re little, will encourage them to eat healthy for life. 

Kids will participate in sports, and gain real physical benefits, if they like the sport. Let them try out different ones, until they find one that fits. 

Make sure to take your kids for regular eye and dental exams. Doing them the same time each summer means you won’t have to take them out of school for appointments. Their teachers will appreciate your thoughtfulness.  

Make sure to take kids for regular eye and dental exams. Doing them at the same time each summer means you won’t have to take them out of school for appointments. Their teachers will appreciate this.  

By making eating five or six different vegetables daily a family tradition, you’ll save your kids the pain that comes from age-related memory problems in the future. 

Seeds and nuts are especially nutritious. Store them in glass Mason jars and keep them in the fridge where they'll stay fresh, and be handy when making salads, snacks or to sprinkle on frozen yogurt or vegetables. 

Buy fresh fruit and vegetables when they're in season. This saves money and teaches kids about healthy eating, even on a budget. It is the best way to shop. 

Add some chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro to your guacamole. They add flavor and have added health benefits. Eat the dip with baked corn chips or better yet, celery or carrot sticks. 

Whenever you see lists of healthy foods and beverages, start from the top, the best of the best, and see what you like. Add them to your shopping list. Might as well buy foods that are good for your health. 

An annual eye check is necessary for children and adults. Most teachers have all their check-ups completed the month before school starts each year. This works for school aged children too. No missing school for routine appointments! 

Personal care products and cosmetics should be kept out of reach of small children, just like cleaning products. Going to the ER isn't fun, or cheap. Keeping kids safe is every parent's responsibility. 

No one wants to be weak or have fragile bones. Jumping can help build up leg and bone strength. Do jumping Jacks together with your kids. Jump rope is also fun, and fairly easy for all. You don’t have to do fancy tricks. Just jump. 

Even though straws get a bad rap, due to litterbugs, when drinking citrus, teach your kids to use a straw. It's easier on tooth enamel. 

Strawberries are healthy, but avoid dumping sugar on them. They're sweet enough already. Cut them up on cereal or over yogurt. Dunk them in melted dark chocolate, or eat them plain. 

Reward kids with activities, instead of food. If you feel you must use food, make it real, with no additives. Try strawberries, small carrots, pumpkin seeds or nuts. 

You know which fruits and vegetables you're eating now. Add something new to your shopping list each week. Experiment eating a variety of colors, purple cauliflower, orange squash, etc. That way, you'll get a variety of nutrients. 

It's easier to switch to eating healthy foods, if you put only healthy/real foods on your shopping lists. Then, stick to the list. Don't be distracted by the junk at the checkout stand.

Growing herbs in containers is a great hobby for kids and parents to pursue together. It teaches kids where food comes from, helps them bond with family, and makes food healthier and taste better. 

Foods children grow, select and/or cook are consumed gladly.

Asparagus is healthiest when cooked. Chop up each stalk into small pieces. Drizzle a little olive oil on them and sauté quickly in a small pan. Then toss them with some orange slices to add vitamin C, and make them more appealing to kids. 

If you cover two-thirds of your lunch and dinner plates with vegetables, you and your kids will feel better and be healthier. Just remember to eat the rainbow, variety of colors means variety of nutrients. 

If you live anywhere near a natural environment, make it a family tradition to walk there together at least once a week. It's good for your health, and doing this together is great for your kids' self-esteem. 

Shop the outside aisles in the supermarket for real food, or order it online, so you'll not be tempted by processed foods. Another good choice is shopping at your local Farmer's Market. 

Reading the fine print (often on the back of the box) is the smartest thing to do, if you're going to buy packaged foods. Teach your kids to read the list of ingredients, if they can't pronounce it, it isn't real food. 

Adding parsley to salads is pretty easy, and healthy. It's simple to grow your own. It's not fussy at all. Grows most places, even in a sunny kitchen window. 

An easy way to make sure you're getting enough of what your body needs, is whenever you see a list of real healthy foods, write down all the foods on it that you enjoy eating. Make sure they're on your shopping list each week. 

It's easy to find a local farmer's market. Just check online. In some communities, there are several. This isn't true everywhere, sadly. But if it isn't, go to your local city hall, and request they set one up. 

Plan on serving 10 fruits and vegetables per day. Studies show 7 is good, but eating 10 is better. High fiber is great, very healthy, but start slowly or your gut will rebel. 

Mix nutritious chia and sunflower seeds into tuna salad, along with a little of your favorite mayonaise. They act as a binder, and make tuna easier to eat in a sandwich or on a salad. 

If anyone in your family has kidney stones or are at risk for them, serve romaine, watercress and bok choy, since they are all low in oxalate. 

Since eating cooked carrots with a little fat is more nutritious than eating them raw, steam (with a little water) in the microwave, drain, and sprinkle with a little cheese. 

Strawberries with dark chocolate and nuts make a healthy desert, as do most varieties of fruit. They are great options for about 65% of Americans who are lactose intolerant. 

Teach your children to love gardening and fresh food, and they'll live longer, healthier lives. 

Not putting cookies, candy, cakes and pastry on your shopping list is more than half the battle. Another place sugar sneaks into our day is with sodas and fruit juices. Find a drink you and your kids enjoy that isn't full of sugar. 

People fail to adopt healthy eating habits in part because they see foods they don't like on a list, and give up. Instead, eat from several lists of healthy food, but only what you enjoy. This makes it easier to eat healthy. 

Our bodies need magnesium for all sorts of things, mood, bone healthy, etc. Being low in magnesium will make you feel awful, and can lead to weaker bones. Avoiding sugar helps, as does eating food high in magnesium (black beans, dark chocolate, broccoli, nuts, etc.. If you or your kids are lactose intolerant, pay special attention to this.  

When you read the benefits of eating a certain type of food, like nuts or cruciferous vegetables, start with the most nutritious and pick 5 your family enjoys. Add them to your shopping list each week.  

If you routinely take a walk after dinner as a family, drive over to a nearby forest, field, hiking trail, beach, lake, park or other outside area every once in a while to keep it interesting. 

Physical proximity to devices is half the problem. Teach kids to keep their phones, tablets and computers off and put away, when not in use. Use them as tools, not a substitute for life.

Establish a bedtime routine for kids (with the appropriate amount of sleep by age), and stick to it until they're adults. Even teens need their sleep (9 hours), so they'll be alert in class and retain what they learn. 

Keep nuts in airtight Mason jars, then use the lids as serving dishes. Pour in enough to cover the bottom of the inside of the lid. This will keep you and your kids from eating too many. They're healthy, but calorie dense, so no seconds. 

Wash and cut up vegetables for dinner. Put them in a glass bowl. Splash a small amount of water on them. Then nuke them for a few seconds. They're tasty, still have some crunch (kids like that), and lots of nutrition. 

Grandparents can help make reading a tradition in the homes of their grandkids by gifting a book at each gift birthday, Christmas, etc. Include a loving note on a page inside. It will be their favorite part. 

When you see a list of foods that contain specific nutrients our bodies need to avoid disease, put some of them on your shopping list. Buy several of these foods each week, so your family isn't deficient in vitamins and minerals, and will stay healthy. 

Aerobic exercise doesn't have to be as intense as training to run a marathon. It can be as simple as doing jumping jacks, chasing your dog or kids around the yard, or jumping rope. 

Making nutritious guacamole is a simple task, even children can do. They'll feel like stars making a treat for the whole family. Just be sure they do it safely. Scoop out the seed and meat with a spoon. Don't use a knife, too dangerous. 

Since pistachios are so full of oil (the good kind), keep them in Mason jars on a shelf in the fridge. This keeps them fresh and easy to reach. 

Taking a walk after dinner each evening is a wonderful family tradition. It brings the family closer together, and will increase everyone's step count, on the way to reaching a healthy 7,500 steps a day.

Keep healthy snack foods like grapes, carrots, seed and nuts in easy to access containers in the fridge. Use open bowls for fruit and Mason jars for the rest. 

The typical U.S. lifestyle is killing people, while those who switch to healthy eating, getting fit, and socializing, live longer, healthier lives. The choice is yours. You can create a culture of health, fitness and togetherness in your family, or not. 

There's an easy way to switch from the typical American to a plant-based diet. Add an extra vegetable to dinner this week, and reduced the size of your animal protein.  Next week, add a side of beans. Add more vegetables each month until you're eating mostly plants. 

I explain to your kids, during sleep their brains moves what they've learned at school from their temporary file to their brain's hard drive. This is why they need 9+ hours of sleep each night.

Eating sugar in any form is something we should avoid, if we want to stay healthy and look great. Check out labels, especially the back and sides. Read the list of ingredients. Avoid corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, honey, etc. so your kids won't develop a sweet tooth.

Be sure to model a healthy lifestyle for your children, so they will grow up healthy and fit. This will also help you stay healthy too, so you'll be there to see them graduate from college, get married and give you grandchildren. 

Nuts are healthy snacks. Studies show eating a small pile of them daily adds healthy years to the life of your family. Storing them in airtight Mason jars keeps them fresh. Use the lid as a measuring cup, so no one over does it. 

Not only are celery stalks healthy, but the leaves are too. Plus, they add lots of flavor to a salad or sandwich for school lunches. 

The more intense the color of fruit and vegetables, the higher the nutritional content. So when choosing produce, go for the brightest, deepest colors for the most nutrition. 

It's the fiber, which used to be called roughage, in real food that makes the difference. If people eat highly processed foods, there's less fiber and they don't feel full. This leads to overeating. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils are full of fiber, and leave kids and adults feeling full. 

Some grown men are highly educated, yet can't feed themselves. Teach your children, both boys and girls, how to cook. Start with having them prepare a side dish with your help. Soon, they'll be capable of making an entire meal. It will give them a sense of pride, and skills for the future. 

Steel-cut oats taste better, as well as being healthier than other kinds of oatmeal. Buy precooked, frozen oatmeal in individual servings and defrost in the microwave, or cook a big batch yourself, and freeze individual servings. Both save time. 

Don't wear earbuds when taking a walk. Instead, listen to the sounds of nature or chat. It's a peaceful way to keep moving. 

Use a little extra virgin olive oil in the bottom of pans when cooking. It makes food easier to remove, adds flavor, and is healthier than using butter or margarine. 

Read labels and avoid added sugar in all forms. It's also best not to have candy or cookies in the house on a regular basis. Do, however, keep a jar of dark chocolate covered almonds the pantry for a tasty, healthy treat. 

Since all berries are wonderfully healthy, if you don't enjoy eating one variety, try something else. The richer the color, the healthier they are. 

In addition to recess and physical education classes, students would benefit from a school-wide ten minute pause for relaxation/meditation. Ask your child's principal if this is happening at his school. 

Do an online search for a specific vitamin or mineral to determine which foods contain a great deal of it. Then put anything you're not already buying on your grocery list. It's an easy way to add nutrition to your family's meals. 

Jumping rope or doing jumping Jacks, should be encouraged from the age when it's first possible to forever. It encourages our bodies to build bone every time we land on the ground. Why not do twenty every day?

Start your kids off with great dental hygiene. When they ask if they have to floss every tooth, tell them, "Only the ones you want to keep." 


Keeping nutritious seeds and nuts in airtight Mason jars stored in refrigerator door keeps them fresher longer and within easy reach of hungry kids looking for a snack.

Buying fruit and vegetables when in season reduces the cost to less than that of junk food, even when they're organic. Buy them frozen when not in season, lots more nutritious than junk and lower in cost.

Salmon is healthy and yummy on its own, especially with a little lemon squeezed on top. It's also wonderful added to a salad or pasta. It's nice when flavor and nutrition work together. Since it's a mild flavor, kids will eat it without complaint.

A study of eighth-grade students found a lack of exposure to morning daylight may delay bedtime that evening, cutting into their sleep. David Trilling (Blue Zones)

Add one more vegetable to your meal. Add one more fruit, handful of seeds or nuts to your snack. Repeat until there's no room for junk. Kids will learn how to dine and snack healthy and continue those habits into adulthood.

“If you’re walking more than about forty-five minutes a day, you’re getting 90% of the physical activity value of training for a marathon,” says Dan Buettner, of the National Geographic. So spend less TV and computer time, and more time walking.

Ask your local School Board, why your child’s school doesn’t do what they do in France. Click: French School Lunches YouTube

It takes a few minutes to find the important information on prepackaged foods, but it's worth the effort to know what you're feeding your family. If you can't pronounce the ingredients, they aren't real food.


An easy way to eat more cooked tomatoes, is to prepare Italian food, with lots of marinara sauce. A simple way to eat more fresh tomatoes is to eat several cherry tomatoes as a snack.

To eat healthier, shop healthier. Stick to the outside aisles of the supermarket (that's where they display real food), and/or shop at your local Farmer's Market.

Here's a healthy way to order when dining out. Pick 3 meals on the menu that look good to you, then order the healthiest option. You can also ask them to add or subtract ingredients to improve the "health" factor. Add a side order of carrot curls to your plate of tacos, as an example.

Fruit and vegetables you grow yourself are less expensive (and taste better), because they don't come from far away.

It's easy to make little changes to your shopping list, but they mean a lot. It takes a few extra minutes to find healthier options in ketchup, peanut butter, soups, etc. (lower in sugar and salt), but they taste better and make you feel better too.

You don't have to move to Spain or Italy to reap the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Just put the same foods on your shopping list and eat your way to good health. Like with any meal plan, don't over do it.

Adding onions, garlic and broccoli while cooking meals is easy. Topping salads with raw onions (if you can digest them) and broccoli is simple too. All are healthy additions to any meal.

In addition to helping avoid diabetes, lifting weights three times a week is great for building and maintaining bone strength. They don't have to be heavy either. Just use weights you're comfortable with and increase the number of repetitions as strength improves. This works for kids too, just make sure to use lighter weights.

You can save time and money, and resist temptation buy buying most of your weekly groceries online and buying produce at your local Farmer's Market


If you prefer to shop at supermarkets, stick to the outside aisles of the store. That's where they keep the "real" food.

Try different types of leafy greens. If you have family members with kidney stones, check online for their oxalate level before buying a new type of vegetable. Dinosaur kale is my newest addition. It's dark green, has a mild flavor and is low in oxalate, but high in nutrition.

Turn on some music while you're making breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Dancing while working in the kitchen will add more movement to your day. If you’re a terrible dancer, that’s even better. It shows your kids perfection isn’t required for participation


It's possible to learn from the mistakes of others. If someone in your family isn't living a healthy lifestyle, vow not to make the same mistakes. Learn how to take care of yourself and live a healthier lifestyle. It will make all the difference for you, and your kids.

When preparing a meal, turn on 60's rock music, or some other music that makes you move. It's good exercise, and great for your mood too.

Once a year buy four ultra-soft, small head toothbrushes for every member of your family. Toss out their old toothbrushes and replace them with new ones every 3-6-9-12 month. This will help protect tooth enamel while brushing teeth.

Make a list of fun family activities. Write them on small pieces of paper and put them in a big jar. When kids are bored, or you don't know what you feel like doing, reach into the jar, and pick one. Your kids will love doing this.

Here's a simple rule of thumb. Serve a salad to your family, with at least five chopped vegetables on top, five or more days a week.

Your family should eat four types of foods daily: whole grains, all sorts of greens, beans, and nuts. This will add about six years to your healthy life expectancy, besides helping you and your kids feel great.


When walking with kids or friends, throw in a challenge like, "I'll beat you to that tree" every so often to pump up the heart rate


Having a dog is extremely beneficial to kids. Helps them build a strong immune system and develop responsibility. The only downside is the poo. However, if you have the money, there are services or teens in the neighborhood who will clean it up for a fee.

To help build bones, and keep them strong, jump rope or do jumping jacks with your kids for ten minutes daily.

Making guacamole with kids is a fun and healthy activity. Just don't let them take out the seed with a knife, unless you want to take a trip to the E.R. Instead, teach them how to remove it with a spoon.

Whole foods are real food. Shop at the Farmer's Market near you. They only sell real food. Take your kids with you. They'll enjoy the atmosphere and talking to real farmers.

Buy the small, ready to eat carrots in a bag. Your kids will eat more than when they're full sized. Or cut the full-sized carrots into coins. Do what works for you and your kids because carrots are super healthy.

Zumba takes a little practice, but it's an easy, inexpensive, fun way to get some exercise for those whose daily lives do not provide it. Learning how as a family creates the closeness kids crave.

Several studies show children who have dinner as a family at least 5x/week have more self-esteem, do better in school and earn more college scholarships.


Avoid giving kids sugary drinks. It’s bad for their teeth and leads to them being overweight. Give them milk or water instead. If drinking water gets boring, squeeze some citrus into it.

Get together with your neighbors. Make a plan for each family to plant at least one variety of fruit trees. You could all share and eat really fresh fruit without paying store prices. Do the same with veggies. Kids will benefit by seeing teamwork pay off. 


Everyone needs fiber. However, don't increase your family's fiber intake rapidly. Their guts will rebel. Instead, increase it slowly. Add a half cup of beans to dinner this week. Next week add something else, like steel cut oatmeal with berries for breakfast. Repeat.


Adding more fresh, whole foods to your shopping list means your family will eat fewer processed foods. They'll soon get used to the taste of real food and won't miss fake food for very long.


I read about sourdough bread made from a starter in the @BlueZones Solutions book. I buy a loaf at the bakery, and have it sliced. Then I cut it down the middle to make smaller pieces. I freeze the bag and take out what I want to toast. It's an easy way to keep it fresh, so there's no spoilage.


Adding one more veg to dinner, and reducing the size of your meat portion is a simple change every family can make to improve health. 


We should all adopt a physical activity we enjoy. It could be a sport, hiking, dancing, swimming, or something else. Share it with your kids, so they'll grow up with this healthy habit.


Look at lists of healthy plant slant foods and recipes and make your shopping list from the foods they contain. @BlueZones post them often on Facebook and Twitter.


Let kids pick one new veg at the supermarket or Farmer's Market to try each week. They're more likely to try a "special" food they selected.


Write down everything you ate and drank an hour before you had digestive issues. Do this for your kids too. Playing detective helps identify food allergies and intolerances.


Recently I learned exercise keeps our arteries flexible, which is a good thing. That’s reason enough to make sure your kids get up and move around the house or outside every thirty minutes or so. No more playing video games without breaks.


Gardening is a great family tradition to establish. Teaching kids where food comes from makes them more likely to eat their vegetables.


Poor health is a good reason to stop buying foods that contribute to it. Filling up your shopping list with healthy fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains leaves little room for junk.



Did you know pistachios contain resveratrol, just like red wine? So your kids can snack on pistachios while you enjoy a glass of your favorite cabernet. You'll both benefit from this healthy compound, which fights damage to our bodies on a cellular level.

You are reading from the blog, RoadtoFreeCollege.com, where we empower families with knowledge to navigate the path to higher education without the burden of excessive loans.


For more information, you’ll want my book, Free College, CLICK HERE. It teaches families how to help their kids become more successful in school, college, and life.

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  1. These are great tips! Every parent would benefit by knowing these.

  2. I publish them here and on Twitter, hoping to help families help their kids.