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October 19, 2012

Getting Your Kids To Eat Healthy Food

Common complaints I hear from parents are …

  • My kids won’t eat vegetables.
  • My kids won’t eat fruit.
  • My kids won’t drink water.
  • My kids only want to eat at fast food restaurants.
  • My kids don’t like healthy food.

How do you get kids to eat healthy food?

First, it’s important to know that kids learn to like what they are taught to eat.

They like cookies, candy, chips, French fries, pizza and soda because they were given those foods by parents, relatives or friends.

Teaching kids to eat healthfully starts when they’re little, preferably before they’re born. The mom should make sure that all the food she eats not only while pregnant, but when thinking about getting pregnant, should be healthy and nourishing.

Ideally a child should be breast fed for at least one year, preferably two or longer. When the child is ready for solid foods, only healthy foods should be introduced. Skip the candy, ice cream, cake and cookies. This is where poor eating habits start.

When my daughter was a toddler, I used to do mommy-and-me gymnastics with her. One mom came with her son and a daughter less than a year old who stayed in a stroller during the class. To keep her little girl quiet, the mom used to give her red licorice to chew on. That mom was teaching her daughter to like candy, a substance that when eaten regularly over a lifetime will make her susceptible to developing a weak immune system, diabetes, obesity and cancer.

What if that mother had given her child some grapes, banana slices or cooked carrots instead? Then she would have been teaching her to like healthy foods.

If a child is only given healthy foods, they will develop their likes and dislikes for among the healthy foods and they WILL like healthy food.

Now, I understand that other people like to give your kids treats. They will just have to be trained … to only give your kids healthy, pre-approved foods and snacks.

When your children get to be school age and if they go to school, rather than be home-schooled, their teachers will have to be trained.

There are a few schools nationwide that serve only healthy food and only allow healthy food to be brought to school. They don’t even allow candy and cupcakes for birthdays. Now while some may think this is terrible, I think these schools should be set up as an example for all schools to imitate. The schools that have implemented this policy have shown more alertness among their students and better academic performance.

When kids learn healthy eating habits while young, they get a healthier start in life and their healthy eating habits will carry over into their teen and adult years and they will have better health to live a longer and healthier life.

What do you do now if your kids are not healthy eaters?

I have a tool, called “My Personal Food Planner” that you can use to transition to healthier eating habits. Print one out for every member of your family.

You will list the unhealthy foods you like to eat in the left column and healthy foods you like or would like to try, that you can substitute for the unhealthy one, in the three right columns.

Every day or every couple days, choose one unhealthy food that you are ready to  eliminate from your diet and substitute a healthy one. Keep doing this until you are no longer eating the unhealthy foods.

Let your school-age children make their own Personal Food Planners. Kids cooperate better if they know they have some control. For younger kids, sit down with them and let them tell you what foods they want to substitute, with a little help from you. Make this a family adventure … exploring new and healthier foods.

Here are some healthy recipes to help you get started.

My two favorite cookbooks are …

The Primal Blueprint Cookbook

Nourishing Traditions

Click here for “Recommended Reading.”

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