I don’t have children, YET. But I feel the pain of trying to get the little ones on board with eating healthy when they started their lives eating junk food. Some parents just go on “diets” themselves and let their kids continue to eat the junk food. I’ve also witnessed parents that have overweight children and making the kids go on diets alone while the parents still eat junk food too. There is something seriously messed up with that line of thinking, but I won’t get into that right now.
Here are a handful of ideas that I intend to implement with my future children. Maybe they will be helpful to your family too.
- Communicate with your kids about why the family eats the way that they do can be tricky. It is good to talk a lot about making the best choices we can for our bodies, but also respecting other people's choices about how they nourish and care for their bodies. This limits judgment of others and prevents alienating your kids.
- Focus on the positives when explaining to your youngins why we eat health. Tell them, “we eat these foods because they help make us grow up big, strong and healthy” or “we choose these foods because they’re better for our tummies” or “we choose these foods because they give us lots of energy and help our brains get extra smart”.
- I believe that teaching your children to say, "No thank you, I wouldn't care for any," when offered a food that will make them feel icky is one of the most valuable life skills you can give them. It's a lesson in self-awareness, boundary-setting, and graciousness all rolled into one.
- If you’re trying to make a switch to whole foods and are finding that it’s a struggle with kids– get them in the kitchen with you! Kids love to be hands on and will gladly help with anything you ask them to. It’s a great time for bonding.
- Have the kids shop for food, cut vegetables (with adult supervision of course), wash produce, season, mix, measure, crack eggs, squish meat, etc. Anything to help kids make a connection to real food and give them a sense of pride in the meal they are helping to create. Children generally show more interest in trying new foods when they’ve had a hand in choosing and preparing them.
- Even on days when you are exhausted and don’t necessarily need the extra hands, ask the kiddos to make illustrated menus of what meal we’re going to eat. This reinforces their healthy eating habits and values.
- Start with familiar, healthy foods that your children already like. If they already love grapes or cucumbers, use those foods more frequently in meals and slowly work on introducing the newer healthy foods.
- When making kid lunches, stick with the following formula: a hearty protein, two veggies, a fruit, a fat (like coconut flakes, olives, a smear of coconut butter) and a treat (piece of dark chocolate or some dried fruit).
Do you have some other tricks that you implement with your children to get them to eat healthy? Please share!!
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