Children do not eat intuitively; it is a learned behavior. Whatever your children eat at home will probably be what they eat as an adult. According to statistics, childhood obesity is at an alarming rate in the United States. As parents, we are responsible for the way our children eat. Here are some ideas to get your kids eating healthy:
1. Eat Right Yourself
Many of us complain that our children will not eat healthy foods. Often times, the problem is with the parents. We are so used to eating in restaurants and buying processed foods that we forget what it is like to eat healthy. We just defeat the purpose if we have a bunch of sugary snack foods in the house all the time. We have to be a good role model for healthy eating.
2. Let Your Kids Shop With You
One of the best ways to get your kids to get a connection with wholesome foods is to take them shopping with you. It is important that they see what unprocessed food looks like so they can ask questions. Take them when you have time to spend in the produce and meat aisles. There may be some fruits and vegetables that your kids have never seen. Encourage questions and see if the kids would like to try something new.
3. Moderation In All Things
Almost everything in moderation is fine. If you tell your kids that they will never have another cookie again, then you are just setting your family up for dietary failure. Having a special treat once a day and balancing it with healthy foods is the best practice. It will not hurt to have that little scoop of ice cream or a donut on occasion. Your children will learn how to balance healthy food and enjoy their daily meals. Taking something away completely just makes them crave even more.
4. Meals Should Be Special
We often make the mistake of eating on the run. Sometimes, we do not even see each other during meal times. The kids could be munching on something in front of the television while you are eating at your computer. It is important to sit down and savor the flavor of your foods. Just walking around and eating is not good either. Make meal times special with family rituals, such as everyone sharing something eventful from their day. You do not have to save the good dishes and napkins for company. Make meals a grand event and everyone will enjoy their meal and the good company. Plus, you will be aware of what your kids are eating.
5. Cook One Meal For Everyone
Unless your child is on a medically –restricted diet, you should be making the same thing for everyone. It can be frustrating and expensive if you have to make everyone their own favorite meal. If kids eat the same things all the time, they probably will not try anything new. Try adding one new food to everyone’s plate once in a while. If they do not eat it, do not give up. Just try it again another time. If you make it fun and interesting, they might try a bite sooner or later.
6. Be Aware of Marketing Aimed At Kids
Turn on your television, and the commercials will tell your kids all the processed foods that they simply must have. In fact, your kids do not need this junk food at all. All of the sugary cereals and snacks that are touted on television are filled with empty calories and preservatives. You cannot shield your child from watching every commercial on television. There are channels for children that have minimal advertisements. They can also watch commercial-free videos. If you see commercials for junk food, explain to your children what some better alternatives would be. Instead of the ground-up, chicken-something nuggets, how about whole slices of chicken breasts breaded and baked at home? There are always healthy alternatives.
7. Food Should Not Be Used As Leverage
When food is used as a reward, children will come to associate food with well-being. Many obese children are emotional eaters. While it is fine to take kids out to celebrate a special event or a good job, it should not be used as the incentive. You also work against yourself if you tell your kids that they can have a big sugary dessert if they eat their vegetables. Having a healthy body should be its own reward. Conversely, punishing a child for not eating certain foods will most certainly backfire. Kids will associate that food with punishment and may never try it. It will also hurt the relationship you have with your children.
8. Encourage Little Kitchen Helpers
Having your kids helping in the kitchen is an excellent tool for nutritional training. Even younger children can help wash vegetables or set the table. You may need a stool so your child can reach the counter safely and watch what you are doing. Teach kids safety in the kitchen and watch them carefully. It is exciting for children to serve the family up something they have created.
9. Breakfast is Important
Remember how your mother always told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? Mom knew best. During sleep, your kids have gone without food and water for 8-10 hours. Breakfast revamps their bodies and gives them the energy to start another day. It is easy to get in a hurry in the mornings and skip breakfast. That makes the temptation for eating junk food during the day even greater.
10. Love And Acceptance
No one is made the same. We each have our own body weight, shape, and size. It is important that your kids know that you love and accept them just as they are. If you are worried about childhood obesity, it can be worked on in a positive manner. If the whole family makes an effort to eat right and get some exercise, then everyone will come out a winner!