First Lady Michelle Obama on Raising Healthy and Responsible Kids

The First Lady wants to help kids stay strong.

It’s small wonder that First Lady Michelle Obama is so passionate about helping parents raise healthy children on sensible eating plans. She learned good eating habits early on, from her own mother.

“She cooked almost every night, and she sort of followed the traditional plan of having a meat, a starch and a vegetable,” Mrs. Obama tells the August issue of Parenting magazine. “We couldn’t afford to go out, so we had fast food maybe once a week. We used to get pizza on report-card day as a reward, and that was like once a quarter!”

The First Lady’s 1970s childhood included other healthy habits that today’s children don’t often enjoy, such as dinners together as a family (which has been linked to better school performance) and limited choices in kids’ TV programming (which gave kids more time to go out and play).

Asked the one thing she wishes parents would do more often, she goes back to family values:

“I think it’s the simple things that hold true regardless of income or location: eliminating sugary drinks, cooking a little bit more,” she says. “It’s hard to do. I struggled with it as a working mom myself. But thinking about it once or twice a week even, sitting around a table, getting to know our kids more, is a good thing.”

But the First Lady isn’t just concerned about what goes on at the kitchen table. Here’s what she sees as the greatest challenge facing today’s parents:Mrs. Obama thinks it’s tough for parents today to help teach children the value of service. Our society has become increasingly “me-first,” and the isolation provided by technology doesn’t help. “I tell my kids that you have to practice who you want to be every day,” she tells the magazine. “You won’t wake up in twenty years and become a compassionate person if you’re not practicing that along the way.”

The Obamas, including the President and daughters Sasha and Malia, have put their beliefs into action by participating in many service projects – in fact, it’s a Thanksgiving family tradition to go out for a day of service instead of sitting right down to a turkey dinner.

And the First Couple’s words of advice to their daughters should be repeated by every parent, everywhere:

“Barack and I always tell our girls that you can be smart, you can be beautiful, but if you don’t know how to treat people, if you don’t walk into a room and say hello, if you don’t say thank you, if you’re not looking out for the girl who’s sitting alone by herself, then who are you?”

Now that’s how to stay healthy inside and out.

[Photo: via]

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