Posts Tagged ‘be a role model’

With the holidays here – your kids are probably eating cake, sugar cookies, cupcakes, and tons of candy (as we all like to do as kids)…and it can be tough as a parent to get your children to actually want to eat healthy when they eat more junk food during the holidays. Letting kids eat unhealthy food increases the chances they will become overweight and eat a poor diet as adults. Kids who eat a healthy diet are more likely to get enough nutrients, have more energy, build strong bones and muscles and maintain a healthy weight. Parents can encourage their children to make healthy eating choices by providing lots of healthy options, being patient and setting a good example.

Here are some tips on how to get your kiddo to eat healthy and persuade your little one not be such a picky eater!

1.  Make a schedule. Children need to eat every three to four hours: three meals, two snacks, and lots of fluids. If you plan for these, your child’s diet will be much more balanced and he’ll be less cranky, because he won’t be famished. Put a cooler in the car when you are out with your kids and keep it stocked with carrots, pretzels, yogurt, and water so we don’t have to rely on fast food.

2.  Plan dinners. If thinking about a weekly menu is too daunting, start with two or three days at a time. A good dinner doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be balanced: whole-grain bread, rice, or pasta; a fruit or a vegetable; and a protein source like lean meat, cheese, or beans.

3.  Don’t become a short-order cook. Don’t get into the bad habit of preparing a meal for your kids and one for you and your partner. It can be exhausting. Prepare one meal for everybody and serve it family-style so the kids can pick and choose what they want. Children often mimic their parents’ behavior, so one of these days, they’ll eat most of the food you serve them.

4.  Introduce new foods slowly. Children are new-food-phobic by nature.

5.  Dip it. If your kids won’t eat vegetables, experiment with dips. One example is when your child tries your first veggie such as a carrot, dip it in ranch dressing or even hummus, salsa or some sort of yogurt-based dressing.

6.  Make mornings count. Most families don’t eat enough fiber on a daily basis, and breakfast is an easy place to sneak it in. Make up batches of whole-grain pancake and waffle batter that last all week. For a batch that serves five, sift together 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour, 4 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 2 Tbs. sugar. When you’re ready to cook, mix in 2 Tbs. ground flax meal, 2 cups water, 3 Tbs. canola oil, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, and 2 Tbs. applesauce.

7.  Get kids cooking. If your children become involved in choosing or preparing meals, they’ll be more interested in eating what they’ve created. Take them to the store, and let them choose produce for you. If they’re old enough, allow them to cut up vegetables and mix them into a salad.

8.  Cut back on junk. Remember, you — not your kids — are in charge of the foods that enter the house. By having fewer junk foods around, you’ll force your children to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products.

9.  Allow treats. Having less healthy foods occasionally keeps them from becoming forbidden — and thus even more appealing. Even treat them to McDonald’s for lunch every so often.

10.  Have fun. The more creative the meal is, the greater the variety of foods my kids eat. We make smiley-face pancakes and give foods silly names. (Broccoli florets are “baby trees” or “dinosaur food.”) Anything mini is always a hit too. I often use cookie cutters to turn toast into hearts and stars, which the children love.

11.  Be a role model. If you’re constantly on a diet or have erratic eating habits, your children will grow up thinking that this sort of behavior is normal. Be honest with yourself about the kinds of food messages you’re sending. Trust your body to tell you when you’re hungry and when you’re full, and your kids will learn to do the same.

12.  Adjust your attitude. Realize that what your kids eat over time is what matters. Having popcorn at the movies or eating an ice-cream sundae are some of life’s real pleasures. As long as you balance these times with smart food choices and physical activity, your children will be fine.


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Time magazine ran a story called “Rethinking First Foods.”  It was a great article on the importance of feeding your baby or child healthy food in the first two years of their life. It also had some frightening statistics from doctors about child obesity.

When it comes to developing your child’s eating habits, one of the points the article made was that parents tend to feed their babies or toddlers “kid food” – pizza, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, chips, fries, etc and it is NOT healthy.  It can be easy to open up a bag of baby carrots, as it is to open a bag of chips – so why do parents take this route of “kid food”?  Most parents that I know say that their child is a “picky eater” and that it is the only food a child will eat.

What most parents don’t recognize is that all little kids or toddlers are picky eaters. It’s totally normal and expected in any child’s developmental stages. According to studies, this behavior has little to do with the taste of the actual food; it is more about wanting control of the situation. Most toddlers learn early that eating is very easy to control and it is will get a response out of you, a.k.a you, the parent. The biggest challenge for parents is to NOT give into this behavior, and DON’T fall into the trap of offering bland, unhealthy foods as a replacement for flavorful, healthy foods.

If you’re concerned that picky eating is compromising your child’s growth and development or if certain foods make your child ill, consult your child’s doctor. In the meantime, remember that your any child’s eating habits will not likely change overnight — but the small steps you take each day, can help promote a lifetime of healthy eating.

Here are some TIPS to make it easier on you and healthier for your child:

Start early
Children form habits that make them picky eaters. Habits are hard to break. At the first signs of being a picky eater, explain to your child that it is not healthy to eat the same foods all the time and serve a good variety of foods at meals (it is good if you can feed your child what you are eating at mealtime). Encourage your little ones to taste new foods and try to explain the new food choices as “special meals” or “special treats.”

Recruit your child’s help
Children are more likely to eat something that they have helped make. Try to involved your children when prepping meals. As an alternative, you can also take them shopping at the grocery story and make it a teaching lesson on how to find “good” food. When you involved your kids in making decisions, it reinforces that you care about their opinion and want to make things that they like. For example, never ask “Do you want broccoli for dinner?” offer choices like “Do you want broccoli or cauliflower for dinner?” Providing choices makes your child feel like they are the ones in control.

Make it fun
Serve broccoli and other veggies with a favorite dip or sauce. Cut foods into various shapes with cookie cutters. Offer breakfast foods for dinner.

Don’t offer dessert as a reward
Withholding dessert sends the message that dessert is the best food, which may only increase your child’s desire for sweets. You might select one or two nights a week as dessert nights, and skip dessert the rest of the week — or redefine dessert as fruit, yogurt or other healthy choices.

Be Realistic and Set goals
Be realistic about setting goals. It is not realistic to try to force your child to eat everything you are serving that is new. Instead, ask him or her to take one bite of the new food and work your way up from there.

Be consistent, firm, and don’t give up
Use the same tactics at each and every meal. Put new foods on your child’s plate first. Encourage your child and DON’T give in to stubbornness. A good tactic is to say, “Look, Mommy (or Daddy) will eat it too with you!”

Don’t rush meals
Most kids are slow eaters, and this is a good habit to encourage (plus it is better for digestion). Offer your child plenty of time to eat a meal.

Even if it is just a tiny nibble, praise your child. For a picky eater – this little bite of food is a big deal. Ask them if they thought it was tasty. If the say “no,” tell them it may take a few bites to notice the yummy flavor. Don’t let them shutdown the thought that this food may actually taste good someday.

Be a good role model
This is KEY.  It is plain and simple. You cannot expect to raise children that eat a good variety of healthy foods if you do not. This fact goes for all adults who sit at the table with your children. Your child learns from watching and mimicking you. You may have to venture out of your own comfort zone of eating and try new foods yourself.

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