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But My Kid Won't Eat That

. . . But My Kid Won’t Eat That
            Parents face ever increasing challenges with encouraging their kids to eat healthy. Pressure seems to come from all directions such as the fast food chain on the corner, the cereal aisle at the grocery store, and grandma’s candy jar. In a sense, the junk food war is as difficult as the drug war. A lifetime of junk food can lead to life threatening health problems as serious as those caused by drugs and alcohol. Chemical, sugar and sodium-laden food appears to be the socially accepted “drugs” of our time, and obesity is becoming more socially acceptable than ever. In good times and bad, we reward ourselves with ever increasing amounts of beer, chips, ice cream, burgers, and nachos. Our friends and family are there to help us feed the fire. However, mom and dad are still mom and dad. Parents can prevent or reverse obesity in their children with the right information, right plan, and a commitment to the health of their families. Below are some key steps parents my take to instill healthy eating habits in their children:
  1. Schedule regular meals and snacks for toddlers because they require frequent feeding to ensure adequate intake of calories and nutrients. Older children and adults may benefit from eating 5 to 6 small balanced meals throughout the day to keep blood sugar levels, and, as a result, energy levels, even throughout the day. 
  1. Offer a variety of foods that include at least one healthy food that the child likes. If your child refuses to eat vegetables, offer fruit. Let him to eat fruit with every meal until he eventually likes to eat vegetables. 
  1. Try seasoning vegetables with sodium free seasonings and flavorful oils. Vegetables sautéed with a moderate amount of garlic, olive oil, pepper, and a pinch of sea salt might entice your child enough to eat the vegetables. Top mixed, steamed veggies with a hearty marinara sauce and a sprinkle of cheese. 
  1. Remain calm if the child refuses to eat an entire meal. Force feeding only encourages anxiety regarding food. Let him eat when he is hungry and offer a few healthy foods.
  1. Do not be concerned about short food jags, or stretches of time when the child wants the same food over and over. If he eats 3 apples a day for a week, that is fine. He will eventually want other foods.
  1. Allow the child to eat slowly. Offer healthy food in a relaxed manner, and children will eat what they need[1]
  1. Make your job easy. Keep simple to make, healthy snacks in the house such as:
    1. Cut up fruits and veggies with natural peanut butter, yogurt or bean dip;
    2. 100 percent whole grain crackers with all fruit spread;
    3. 100 percent fruit juice popsicles;
    4. Frozen banana pieces.
  2. Avoid keeping salty snacks, cookies, cakes, pies, ice creams and any other food with processed sugar in the house. Save desserts for special occasions out of the house. If kept in the house, the kids will develop a regular habit of eating salty and sweet foods. Let fruit be a daily treat.
  1. Keep a good nutrition log and physical activity log. Chart your child’s progress. Let him work toward a nutrition and physical activity goal and feel good about his achievement.
In addition to understanding the types of foods to eats, be aware of your beliefs and behaviors regarding food. If you believe you must clear your plate even if you are no longer hungry, your children will learn the same belief and behavior. If parties are a time for you to overeat, your children will do the same. Identify challenging situations, plan how you will handle such situations, and motivate the family to succeed. If it is difficult to cook healthy weeknight dinners, find a family solution to the problem. Perhaps the children could help select healthy, quick cooking frozen vegetables and meats, prepare salads, and set the table. The more you involved the children with healthy food selection and preparation, the more likely they will make good choices for themselves. Reward good choices with family movie nights, bowling, skating or some other activity the children enjoy.
Be creative. Have fun. Approach your family’s nutrition and physical activity goals with the same dedication you apply toward work and school. Then, reward your success!

Boyle, Marie A. and Long, Sara, Personal Nutrition, 6th Ed. Thomson Wadsworth 2007, pg 362,

This article was provided by Free Movement Fitness Inc.
For more information on Free Movement Fitness Inc., check out their full profile here.
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