I once heard a mother say that her child suffered from “stubbornality syndrome”; her kid was a picky eater and he ate what he wanted. As a mother, I understand. Getting your child to eat healthy meals when there is so much junk food around is is easier said than done, no matter how hard you try.
It’s a concern when you realize how much of a problem childhood obesity has become these days. The real concern is that it is becoming more prevalent. If current trends continue, the global number of overweight or obese young children and newborns would climb to 70 million by 2025.
I don’t know about you, but these numbers scare me. That is why I am on a mission to get my kids to healthier foods. It’s not just about limiting their food choices in the home; in this case I strongly believe that education is key. The idea is to gently guide our child towards a healthier diet.
I am well aware that it is not always easy to radically change our food plan, so what can you do when your family is addicted to hamburgers, spaghetti, fried chicken and mayonnaise, mashed potatoes in flakes or hash browns? Well, I simply invite you to start preparing their favorite dishes but by using first quality ingredients and with a zest of love in addition, you will easily be able to test the difference on your children’s behavior.
I share with you my top tips for getting your children to stay away from the junk.
Educate your children
If you want your kids to make better food choices, then you need to impart a little knowledge. Don’t just tell them what food they need to eat, but explain why. Educate your children on the importance of nutrients and how they can get them from different food options.
Explain to them why certain foods should be eaten regularly, while others should be limited. Take your kids to the supermarket with you and show them how to pick ripe fruits and vegetables so they can feel involved and gain a better understanding of what it is they are putting in their bodies.
If they are involved in the whole process of making a meal from start to finish, then this not only makes learning more fun, but it also helps to create a routine and a stronger bond.
Education is so important, because there is only so much you can do to control what your kids eat. Kids are going to be given the option to eat junk at some point, whether it’s at school, at their grandparent’s house or at a friend’s – the option will be there and it’s all about teaching them to make better choices when the time comes.
Lead by example
When you have kids you quickly realize that children imitate and follow behaviors they see. Let’s face it; you can’t exactly expect your child to make healthy food choices if you yourself are reaching for a candy bar when you’re in the mood for a snack.
Try to avoid opting for fast foods or sugary snacks, and instead, make sure you include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Think about portions, try to make home cooked meals as often as possible, and pack healthy snacks and lunches to help avoid temptations when heading out. If your kids see you eat healthy, then it’s easier for them to view this as normal.
Stock up on healthy food items
Not only is it much harder to stick to healthy resolutions when you only have junk food in the house, but healthy food should just become a natural part of your kitchen’s environment anyway.
Next time you head to the supermarket, stay away from the unhealthy stuff and stock up on healthy goodies. Make sure your kids (and you!) have access to a wide variety of healthy foods including fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds, and more. Not only will this help teach your children about the different food that is available, but it will also help to limit their food choices in the home.
Read also: Are Healthy Foods Really Expensive?
Promote an active lifestyle
While diet is incredibly important, you don’t want to forget about exercise. Limiting the time your child spends in front of the TV will not only help to discourage inactivity, but it will also help to decrease exposure to fast food and unhealthy snack advertisements.
Encourage an active lifestyle by doing things like going on bike rides and family walks together. I would also try to encourage your kids to enroll in a sporting activity of their choice, such as ballet, soccer or tennis. Teach them that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore; there are plenty of ways you can be active and still have fun!
Keep snacks to a minimum
Parents should hide or not buy junk food to avoid unhealthy snacks and extra pounds (for them and their children). The end result should be a hungry child at mealtime. Take a step back if mealtime has become a struggle and your child refuses to eat because it has become more about control than hunger.
Read also: Simple Tips For Healthy Snacking
Make the environment pleasant and calm, provide a range of healthy foods, and take a deep breath in and out. Children eventually eat when they are hungry. Avoid discuss dieting in front of their children. They should make the right choices about what to eat and avoid talking about their body shape in a negative way.
It’s all about balance
Sure, eating healthy is important. However, you don’t want to stop your children from enjoying some of life’s little pleasures. Having popcorn at the movies, or enjoying some candy at Halloween doesn’t have to be seen as a big sin.
Read also: How To Find Balance in a Chaotic World
At the end of the day, life is all about balance. Teach your kids to make healthy food choices, try to lead by example, but don’t beat yourself up if you end up having pizza for dinner one night – it happens!