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.


Make Healthy Lunch Meals For Your Back To School Kids

By Clare Jamison

About the only way you have of making sure that your child has healthy lunch meals at school is to make sure that you see your child off to school with one tucked into his bag yourself. This way, not only do you make sure that your child eats healthy, it saves money too.

School lunches are supposed to be really healthy for kids; but what they end up being is, cheap and full of cheese and grease. Yet, some people misunderstand what a home packed lunch really means.

It isn’t about buying a cheese and cracker package from the store and tucking in into the backpack. While that might do a day or two of the month, when you are extra busy, your child really deserves healthy lunch meals everyday.

It doesn’t really take much out of your day to make something from scratch. Let’s look at what you can rustle up everyday to make sure your kid gets the nutrition he needs.

To make sure that your child really goes along with your plan, you need to bring your child into the decision-making process. Let your child pick out a few of the things that he is willing to eat at lunch everyday. If bread is a part of the lunch plan, make sure that you choose whole grain bread.

It doesn’t have to be dark, rough and coarse stuff anymore. They make wonderful whole-grain bread now that is indistinguishable from white bread in softness and taste. Healthy lunch meals have to have fruit in them, or juice.

Now it might be tempting to simply grab canned fruit or a juice box to throw in the lunch box and call it “healthy”. That’s not really how it works, though. As the First Lady Michelle Obama says, we all need to boycott juice boxes; they all have precious little fruit in them, and they are mostly artificial flavoring and sugar.

When you’re going with fruit, go natural and fresh.  Putting vegetables in your child’s lunchbox is a great idea too. Kids like celery and peanut butter, or baby carrots and dip.

Of course, healthy lunch meals need protein in them. You could go with lunch meats if you want to, but for something a bit more adventurous, you could try trail mix or string cheese. If your kid’s school doesn’t have any rules against peanut butter, that could be great too.

Of course, just because you want your child to eat healthy lunch meals every day doesn’t mean you have to be strict. Make sure that you put your kid a little slack with something like a cupcake or a cookie. He will really be surprised.

How to Get Children to Eat Fun Healthy Snacks

By Antonia Sparks

Preschoolers are always running about and playing. It’s no wonder that the usual three meals a day aren’t enough for that kind of energy. They need fun healthy snacks to supplement those meals with.

Of course, preschoolers are kind of slow in the speed at which they grow, compared to what it’s like the first couple of years. But they still need about 1500 calories a day from high quality foods like vegetables, milk, fruits, whole grain and beans.

As easy as it seems it might be to give them all of that, it’s really difficult. Children don’t like to eat at mealtime often, or they might be fussy about what they eat. That only leaves the snack times as possible windows of opportunity for when you can bring them a little nutrition – in the form of fun, healthy snacks.

Well, it’s actually a good thing that kids should keep hankering after in-between snacks. Because if they didn’t, you wouldn’t have any way to give them the nutrition they needed. You need to go about this in an organized way; you need to stack stock your fridge and your pantry up with fun healthy snacks all the time and let them pick something up whenever they need it.

You need to make use of every opportunity available to help your child become less fussy about food. That means that you need to stock up on a wide variety of snacks, not just the ones you child already likes. You need to keep bringing in snacks that your child has rejected before – over and over again.

At some point, they actually start to like these foods. Just keep introducing new stuff to give a wider range of things to get nutrition from.

Make sure that your kids are never allowed to eat anything in front of the TV. Food should always be a sit-down meal, be it a snack or a full meal. In fact, feeding your children on a schedule would be great. It would help them manage their hunger, and it would help their bodies know when the next meal was coming.

If your children want a drink from time to time, make sure that it’s never soda or any sugary fruit juice. Freshly squeezed juice would be an idea once a day, as would be milk.

Finally, be aware that your child may want to eat something just because they happen to be bored. Children often do this often do this. They think they’re hungry just because they are bored.  That’s not a healthy way to treat food and caving in by letting them eat whatever, whenever is sure to develop poor eating habits not the healthy ones you want them to have.


Healthy Eating for Kids: Getting Your Kids to Like Healthy Foods

By Antonia Sparks

Does healthy eating for kids mean that your children will not like what you prepare for them? I often hear parents say that they want to prepare wholesome food for their children that tastes great and is good for them, but just can’t find anything that actually fulfills both desires. I am here to say that you can.

The first thing that I like to suggest when people are looking at ways to provide healthy eating options for kids is to look at ways to prepare chicken.

Chicken is a great source of protein, but does not have the fat that beef or pork does. There are all kinds of way to grill, smoke and bake chicken that are quite savory, and I have yet to find a kid that does not like it when prepared right.

I personally like to grill my chicken and I have noticed that my children really love it that way.

Healthy eating for kids can also be accomplished with tasty vegetable recipes.

You heard me right – vegetables!

I was very fortunate growing up that my mother made it a point to make our vegetables as interesting and flavorful as possible.

There are seasonings and spices that can make vegetables taste especially good. The thing that I have most often found is that when children are encouraged to eat their vegetables at an early age and informed about their health benefits, they are more likely to continue with good eating habits for life.

One of the big complaints that I often here when it comes to healthy eating for kids is that it is impossible to allow them to have the sweet things they like for dessert. This is also not true.

Such things as Jell-O, low-fat puddings and angel food cake provide children with the sweet taste they love and very little in the way of fat grams or calories. Granted, these do have sugars in them, and you want to watch out for that.

However, any desert can be given to children as long as it is done in moderation, and that really goes for all food.

Another major part of healthy eating for kids is to make sure you have an assortment of low fat dairy products on hand, including milk, yogurt and cheese. These are things children can include in their snacks and not have to worry about too much fat.

Healthy eating for kids does not have to be difficult, and there are many ways parents can go about accomplishing that objective. Teaching children good eating habits at a young age is critical to them making wiser choices as they get older.


Healthy Eating Habits for Children Starts With Good Parenting

By Antonia Sparks

if you want to be a good parent and help your child learn good habits, you’ll have to shape up and be the change you want to see in your child too.  And it includes bringing healthy eating habits for children into the family as well.

When you tell some parents that merely having junk food in the house is a bad example, they are totally surprised. If you’re trying to promote healthy eating habits for children in your home, this is what you need to do.

Make sure that you don’t give your children money for food in school. Of course, you can’t send your child out empty-handed. But at least make sure that you tell them that it’s not meant for treats outside. Children don’t really feel good about going against the rules. Just the fact that you say that it is wrong is enough more or less.

Let’s say that you do want to bring junk food into the home because, you know, you weren’t raised to be a monk. Well, it doesn’t have to be a total ban. Instead, buy the smallest 100-calorie packages possible.

As for soda, make sure there’s never any in the house. We don’t need to eat junk food several times a day – so the temptation isn’t very strong. On the other hand, we do need a drink several times a day. And if there’s soda and juice boxes and other unsavory stuff in the fridge, it can be hard to resist.

If you have a picky eater in the family, there will still be something regular and nutritious that he doesn’t mind eating that much. You need to have that on the ready at all times. If the regular meal you’re cooking doesn’t cut it with him, he can always fall back on that.

Promoting healthy eating habits for children in your home comes down to providing alternatives when you ban those unhealthy foods. So there should always be fruit in the house that your child can turn to. But you don’t want to go overboard with the junk food ban either. Try to make it a very limited thing to turn to because it’s bad.

Parents often make a big deal about how smoking and drugs are bad. But when it comes to junk food, it’s always, “Don’t eat that – it isn’t good for you”. Children can see right away that you use different words with different intent for junk food. Parents need to change that. Junk food is completely dangerous and needs to be warned against like alcohol and tobacco.

Raising Healthy Babies

By Bliss Blaire

Raising healthy babies is not as hard as you may think it is. As a new parent, you either feel very confident that you know what you are doing, or you feel as if you are going to do something to scar your child forever. Stop worrying so much.

The trick is knowing when you need help or advice. You family and friends are there to help you, and you can always talk to a doctor when you need help. The bigger problem is filtering out the bad advice from the good. If something does not sound right to you, question it and find out more before you make a mistake.

It can be hard to tell your mother-in-law that something she did with her children is no longer done because it has been proven to be bad for a baby. Here are some examples of bad advice given with good intentions.

Some mothers put sugary syrups in bottles, but research has determined that this is not the best thing to do when raising healthy babies.

Some past generations may have given baby a bottle of water when they were very young to stretch out times between feedings, but that is not a good idea. In fact, with a newborn, that can be downright dangerous. If baby is hungry, they need calories. Water artificially fills them when they need food, and can throw off their system. Ask your doctor before you give water or add anything to a bottle.

Some people say that the best way to get a baby to sleep through the night would be to let them cry it out. Healthy babies need sleep, as this is when they are growing and developing. However, the man who wrote about getting babies to sleep by allowing them to cry did not recommend what most think of as the Ferber method.

You do not leave a baby crying until they fall asleep. If you want to try this method, make sure you read the literature rather than just doing what you heard it was all about. Babies need to know you will come when they cry. This builds trust and security.

Healthy babies need love and attention from their parents. Some will not hold their baby when he or she cries or they will try to otherwise train them. Someone told them they are going to spoil the baby or that the baby is manipulating them into getting what they want.

The truth is that babies can not manipulate you and you can not spoil a baby. They cry when they need food, a fresh diaper, sleep, or comfort and love. Those are the basic necessities of life. The more you respond to them, the better they are going to be in the long run. Love is a huge part of raising healthy babies.

Healthy babies also need good medical attention. Immunizations are a topic of debate, but remember that medical research has concluded that immunizations do not cause autism. If you are concerned about your babies shots or what might be in those shots, talk to your doctor about your concerns.

The choice is ultimately up to you, of course, but don’t dismiss these just because of something you read on the Internet. Get the facts and then make the choice you feel will lead to healthy babies in your family.