I am a mother, and as I mother I am well aware of the daily struggle of teaching my children to eat healthy. I often see them staring at their bowl of baby carrots, looking at the Oreo cookie commercial on television and then looking at their bowl of carrots in disgust. Why can’t they be as happy as the kids eating the cookies on television? I know, as I am sure other mothers know, once I get my kids started on snacks of cookies and unhealthy meals, they will never want anything else. It will be a struggle for me to get them to eat their vegetables. In fact, I am pretty sure that most will end up on the floor. And while this will please my pet vacuum cleaner, AKA my dog, it will not please me.
Teaching your children how to eat right does not have to be a scary prospect, it does not have to be hard, and it does not have to send you running to your room slamming the door telling your spouse to “Deal with it.” (Because I have and he was none-to-pleased!) Here are some tips to teaching your children to eat healthy.
Incorporate fruits and vegetables with every meal
Always give your child fruits and vegetables with every meal. Share their “yumminess” with your children. If they do not like certain fruits and vegetables, like broccoli and peaches, but they love carrots and apples, give them what they like. As long as they are eating healthy foods, isn’t that what matters? This leads me to my second point…
Do not force your children to eat what they do not like
I see this all the time in restaurants – parents trying to get their kids to eat something they do not want. I often have a conversation that goes something like this:
Husband: “That poor parent.”
Me: “No, that poor child. How would you like to be force-fed lima beans in public? [Side note: my husband HATES lima beans]. You’d throw a hissy fit too.”
Husband: “Oh, I’d slap the lima beans right off the plate.”
Me: “I think the kid beat you to the punch.”
Do not force your kids to eat something they do not like. It will cause them to forever have an aversion to that kind of food. They may end up saying something like, “I’d rather put my hand in a food slicer then eat those mushrooms.” Rather, allow them to eat the things they do like, and then come back to the “bad food” at a later date. As children grow up, their tastes change. For a long time, I hated avocados, and about ten years later, I tried them again and found how much I love them. Avocados are super yummy! But I guarantee I would have never tried them again had my parents tried to force fed them to me.
Advocate healthy snacks
Munching on small things between meals is okay, but what children munch on can dictate their snacking habits for the rest of their lives. Always offer children healthy snacks. As an adult, I like to have a few “bad snacks” in the house (I am a sucker for Pringles), but I keep them out of reach from my children – out of sight, out of mind.
Get your family eating three square meals a day
If you get your entire family to eat three healthy full meals a day (with small snacks in between), your kids will continue to follow those eating habits for the rest of their lives. It will also make sure your children have energy throughout the day. As Ken Hill says, “Food is your body’s fuel. Without fuel, your body wants to shut down.” If you have a habit of skipping meals or eating at odd times, your children will pick that up and follow those habits later in life as well
Teach your kids to play outside
Always encourage your children to go play outdoors. No matter how healthy you get them to eat, they can still pack on weight by remaining sedentary. Do not give kids food because they are bored or sad, but at proper eating times. Let them be active and teach them only to eat when they are hungry.
Written by Melissa Cameron, a mom of two who has been nicknamed “the walking infomercial” by her husband because of all the information she retains from surfing on the internet for hours learning new things. Her latest endeavor is quoting meat grinder reviews, hoping her husband gets the hint!
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