It is so common to hear parents saying things like: `I’m going on this healthy diet, but I can’t expect the kids to do it.’ …or `How do I get the kids to eat healthy foods?’ …or `I can’t deprive them of their favourite (insert here: high carb, grain, sugar, processed, preservative laden) treat. I know it’s not good for them, but they love it.’
So Mum/Dad…..It’s OK for you to eat all those wonderful, health promoting foods, but you’re not training your kids to do the same? You know that the grains, sugar etc are not good for them but you still give it to them?
I understand the dilema. Parents get tired and take the path of least resistance and then often feel guilty that they have done so. But really, this is just another one of those things that we have to do as part of our parenting. After all parenting is about training and caring for our children!!
My take on this is that it really has to be a firm decision….that is, no eating healthy foods one day and junk the next. Just make a decision and then set about making it work ….for the whole family. Here are some hints that I think you’ll find helpful as you make the changes:
- Cultivate a taste for `real food’ in your kids. Make real food something they really want to have. Get them thinking and talking about what it healthy and what they eat. Give them opportunity to try new things. Make it an adventure. Earlier this year I bought `Paleo Pals – Jimmy and the carrot rocket ship’ by Sarah Fragoso for our grand-children. We’ve read it and talked about it so many times. They’ve enjoyed trying the recipes. And now they tell other kids about healthy eating. You can get the book from Amazon – and there is a Kindle version now available.
- Retrain their palate. If your kids have been having processed foods then they will already have a taste for overly salty or overly sweet things, which will make real foods seem bland to start with. It might take some experimentation and perseverance, but you’ll get there. Their bodies will be used to having a constant supply of high carb foods which are not very dense in nutrients. We all know the kids that eat and eat and eat, but are still hungry. That’s a sure sign that their body is crying out for more nutrients.
- Don’t’ assume that your kids won’t eat real foods. Don’t let your own biases or likes and dislikes affect them. If you serve up something and pull a face or groan about it, they will not want to try it either. Be creative in your presentation and they’ll love it.
- Give them opportunities to try new things. Make this an adventure for everyone. Take your kids shopping with you and let them choose one new thing to try this week.
- Get them involved in their food – in the garden and in the kitchen. Even a pot of parsley can become a garden for the kids. Get them growing things and learning how to use them. Get them involved in looking for new recipes for real foods. You might have to direct them to some good websites to start with…..so that they are seeing the healthy options.
- Be persistent – don’t’ give up. How many times have your kids refused or complained about foods before – even the not-so-healthy ones? Plenty. It’s often not about the actual food, but something else. Food just happens to be there at the time.
- Be positive – your attitude, your language, your reactions to foods will all affect how well your kids embrace this.
- Make meal times a fun, enjoyable experience.
Have fun. Life is too short to be too serious!