Getting children to eat healthy foods is not always the easiest task. If kids don’t like the taste, look or feel of their food, they won’t eat it, no matter how beneficial it may be for their health. But that doesn’t mean you have to let them get away with eating junk. Kids don’t have a natural preference for sweet or fatty foods. Far from it! They are perfectly able to appreciate fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, lean meats and poultry if they are properly introduced to them.
Kids Learn Best
When Taught By Example
Kids learn mostly by imitation. They observe what you do, rather than listen to what you say. You, the parent, decide what ends up in your shopping bags and what gets stored in your fridge and pantry. You can’t expect your little ones to stick to a nutritious diet if they see you drink sugary sodas or munch on snacks filled with empty calories and fat.
So remember, getting your children to develop healthy eating habits starts at home. If your own tendencies are less than perfect, start making changes in your lifestyle first. Out with the junk food from the drive-through and the frozen TV dinners – in with farmers’ market visits and home-cooked meals.
Once your kids are old enough to go out on their own, your influence on their eating- and lifestyle decisions will quickly diminish. So a good foundation must be put in place as early as possible.
If changes in your family’s eating habits don’t come easy, don’t get discouraged. Like most parents, you are probably besieged by the constant onslaught of advertising from food manufacturers and the fast food industry. But keep in mind that you are defending the health and well-being of the ones you love the most.
You are the only one who can stop enabling your kids’ lousy eating habits. Don’t delay taking action by making some vague resolutions. Make the necessary changes right away. Look in your fridge and separate the good from the bad and the ugly. Throw out the unhealthy stuff. But don’t do it secretly. Get your entire family involved and explain carefully why certain food items are really not acceptable. Compile your next shopping list together and give everyone some of the responsibility for making better choices.
Most kids respond better when they are given ownership of their actions than when they are told what and what not to do. That doesn’t mean you forgo your parental authority. Teach your kids the ABCs of healthy eating every day and lead by example. They deserve nothing less.