By Kac Young Ph.D, ND, DCH
Children are notoriously picky eaters. Take me, for example. I once sat at the kitchen table until 3 AM because my mother told me I couldn’t go to bed if I didn’t eat my broccoli. (My dad rescued me!) Yet today, broccoli is my favorite vegetable. Go figure!
Over the years I’ve watched many parents handle their children and chow. Here are my best tips for successfully managing your child’s nutrition and heart health:
1) Add Fun To The Food.
Use colors, create a festive-looking plate. Veggies come in all shapes , colors and sizes. Place them like a rainbow and serve them with information about what each vegetable brings to the table in the form of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and nutrition. You can also have them make a chart listing the benefits of each vegetable.
2) It’s Dinner, Not Combat.
No need to give your kids a “time out” or punish them for food they don’t want to eat. Open a conversation with them about taste, texture and let them explain what it is that turns them off. Keep them in the loop, suggest alternatives that you might try and don’t make them wrong for their preferences. Negotiate with them for foods that are nutritious but suit their palate. By giving them respect and consideration you’ll have better chances getting them to eventually incorporate some of the good eating habits into their lives by choice.
3) Don’t Baby Them
As soon as your children start eating solid foods, feed them the food you eat. Use a blender or a food processor to purée foods so they can consume them easily. Gradually, make their foods chunkier until they are eating what you eat. Don’t feed them cheese sandwiches, or Mac & Cheese just because it’s easier. Get them to eat adult food as soon as possible so the good habits will last a long lifetime.
4) Killer Snacks
One of the best things you can do is to feed your kids healthy snacks after school. Left to their own devices, most kids will choose something sweet, gooey, cheesy or comfort-type food. If you provide cut up veggies, trail mix, home- baked tortilla chips, guacamole, salsa, hummus, yogurt or healthy snack bars you bake, kids will feel much better if they snack on those than a candy bar. Try to stave off hungry tummies with good snacks and allow them to wait for the bigger meal with the whole family.
Your refrigerator should be a haven of fresh foods so your kids are tempted to eat only the good stuff. (Dump the frozen pizza pops!) Let kids help you clean the veggies and prepare the snacks so they feel they are part of their own healthy living choices.
5) Walk The Talk
The buck stops with you. Kids learn more from what you do than by what you say. If you’re tempted to grab a cupcake instead of a fresh fruit, then don’t be surprised if your kids roll their eyes when you tell them to eat healthy. Set an example so they’ll see firsthand how eating well pays off in terms of health, stamina, energy and well-being.
– Kac Young, a former television director and producer, earned a PhD in Natural Health and is a Doctor of both Clinical Hypnotherapy and Naturopathy. She is the author of 10 books. Heart Easy is a system of nutritionally sound, delicious meals that promote heart health, long life and taste great. In the Heart Easy Cook Book sound nutritional advice is followed by family favorites that have been turned into heart healthy meals that anyone can make and everyone will love. Learn more…..