SEVEN SIMPLE SECRETS FOR TEACHING CHILDREN EXCELLENT EATING HABITS
by Joy Feldman, NC, JD
© April 2012, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
Beware the food imposters. Adults and children are all too familiar with those glitzy packaged foods that razzle and dazzle kids today. Some even sparkle and pop. It's almost as if they cast a magic spell. The allure of fast food, vending machines and vitamin drinks that will create boundless energy and superhuman strength are everywhere. The appeal to children is great, but these brightly packaged foods, snacks and drinks present a real challenge to parents who are trying to teach their children excellent eating habits.
In light of all the temptations with which today's children are bombarded, it is of paramount importance that we, as parents, fill our childrenŐs plates with healthy, nutrient-rich foods. (editorŐs note: This mean many cooked vegetables, not salads and not fruit or fruit juices at all). Over-processed junk food and commercials promoting sugary items have sparked an epidemic of obesity and unnecessary medical problems for our youth.
Feeding children well is an important step towards creating health. The early years are crucial for children's health because kids have tremendous internal demands on their bodies for growth and development. At a young age, a child's body starts building a body system and laying a foundation of health for a lifetime. This is the perfect time to nurture, guide and model healthy eating to ensure optimal health for a child's future. The truth is that when we eat better, we feel better. Also, when our children eat better, they feel better. To keep the body in tip-top shape, it is necessary to take into account that we derive our energy and our health from the foods we consume.
Here are seven simple secrets for teaching children excellent eating habits:
1. Teach children that they are what they eat.
What they put inside their bodies builds their bodies. Explain to them that healthy food is their fuel and that there is a major construction project going on inside their bodies.
2. Be an excellent role model.
Set a good example for your children by making excellent food choices. Eat the same healthy foods you recommend to your child and explain and teach your children why nutrition matters.
3. Motivate your child to improve their diet and make better choices.
For example, help your child understand that good nutrition will help them have bigger muscles, shinier hair, more brains, longer nails and much more energy. With the proper nutritional balancing program, children will have much more energy, which in turn will increase their self-esteem and confidence.
4. Avoid buying candy, cookies, donuts, ice cream, white bread, pop tarts, and the many other sugary and poorer qualities foods out there.
It will be far easier for your children to eat healthy foods if the cupboards are filled with healthy choices, instead of sugar-coated treats. (EditorŐs note: for example, stock the cupboards with blue corn chips, organic popcorn, and perhaps beef jerky or turkey jerky without many chemicals.) Keep the fridge filled with freshly-cooked vegetables, healthy bean dips or others to go with the cooked vegetables, and perhaps toasted almond butter rather than peanut butter and jelly.
5. Get your children in the kitchen with you.
Food preparation at home is a great opportunity to teach your children and have fun with them as well. When kids feel that they are a part of the process, they are more likely to try new foods. Let your children thumb through the cookbook recipes and have them pick out what they like. If they are too young to cook alone, have them cook alongside you, sampling the different tastes of the foods that are being prepared.
6. Make a family decision to have more meals at home.
Cook and eat many family meals together. Do not allow sports events or anything else to get in the way of your family meals. A fresh, homemade meal is an excellent way to educate the children about healthy foods-plus it sets a great example for the children on the importance of food choices.
7. Perhaps join a Community Supported Agriculture Group (CSA).
In some locations, it is possible to develop a membership relationship with a local farm and receive fresh produce weekly. Some CSAs ask that members work a small number of hours at the farm during growing season. This is the co-op style of food buying. If you choose, your family can take part in this hands-on education about farm life and harvesting vegetables. This is a great way to teach your children the connection between good health and organically-grown foods.
Here's to your health!