A Balanced Approach to Healthy Eating for Kids

By Antonia Sparks

Nurturing patterns of healthy eating for kids is not easy, but it is doable. Every parent knows what healthy foods for kids are, yet it’s a constant struggle to convince the kids. There are a number of reasons.

For example, during a visit to a friend’s home, that mom may offer sweet treats, which the kids interpret as something they don’t get so frequently at home. Although the friend’s mom intends the goodie as a treat, kids arrive home telling their own mom, “Wow, Mrs. Smith let us have a bunch of cookies! How come you don’t?” You hear the accusation in the question.

Almost every kid has a sweet tooth and would rather have a candy bar than a healthy blueberry muffin. When kids go to school, there are sodas, chips and candy bars available in vending machines. Peer pressure is incredibly powerful. You become the odd person out, so boring and strict in your promotion of healthy eating for kids.

You soon feel that your efforts are doomed to failure. Many a mom eventually caves. Don’t you make this mistake! This only contributes to a child becoming overweight and often, a lifelong struggle with weight control and a poor body  image.

There are lots of ways to continue making healthy eating for your kids a priority. You just need to be subtle, persuasive and consistent. You can win them over to your way of thinking. Here are some suggestions.

You know that a kid’s favorite question is, “Why?” Although this can drive you crazy after the 100th time you hear it in one day, this question can be a secret weapon in your battle to develop long term patterns of healthy eating for kids. Plus, it will stick with them long after they’ve left home. Remember, poor eating habits tend to stick just as tenaciously. Here’s how to use the “Why?” to advantage.

Get an age-appropriate primer on nutrition, which gives information on the role that good nutrition plays in keeping a body healthy. When you hand your child an orange for an after school snack, chances are that you’ll hear, “Aaaw, why can’t I have a cookie instead?”

You grab the book and turn to the section on vitamin C. Little kids can relate to the misery they endure with frequent colds, while teens respond to zit and skin blemish issues. The point is, you’ve given them a legitimate reason. They may still try for the cookie, but they’ll settle for the orange.

Don’t force your program of healthy eating down their throats, just subtly and gradually educate them on good nutrition. No kid is going to go for a relentless parade of healthy food. You’ve got to let up once in a while, without overdoing it.

For example, if you serve a fruit pie with ice cream, or even an over the top chocolate cake once a week, such treats will not make them fat or unhealthy. Instead, it changes their perspective on treats, as something terrific to look forward to at Sunday dinner.

Surprise them with the giant pizza every now and then. This type of careful distribution of treats eliminates the ‘forbidden’ factor. They’ll soon come to see for themselves that balance, moderation and healthy eating, is a good thing.

You must also be setting a good example. If you choose to indulge in chips, candy or whatever your unhealthy pleasure may be, while they’re stuck with a banana, your strategy won’t work. They’ll start using their lunch money at the vending machine.

Which brings us to our last point. How do you teach them that junk food should not be a staple of healthy eating? Show them how to read food labels and get one of those pocket books which list food additives. There are several which give the scoop on every additive used in processed foods and what it does inside your body. Some are enough to make your hair curl, or straighten as the case may be.

The bottom line in successfully promoting patterns of healthy eating for kids is to  give them reasons to want to eat healthy food.


Category: Healthy Kids

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