From Oreos to Apples: a Savvy Guide to Raising Healthy Eaters
Pillow fights are nothing but fun -- joyful, energizing and giggle-producing. Food fights with your kids, on the other hand, are stressful, crazy-making and can result in eating disorders down the line.
"No carrots, no cookies!" "Too full for broccoli but room for chocolate cake?" "OK! No dessert for you," ad nauseum...
"I've tried everything to get my kids to eat healthier," I hear constantly from well-intentioned moms and dads who prepare tasty and nutritious foods only to see them sit there on the plate like roadkill. "Nothing seems to work."
What's a savvy parent to do? Don't give up. Behavior change takes the time it takes. And don't forget that the real battle is against the billions of dollars spent by Big Food to entice your kid to eat products that aren't really food.
Those heavily advertised food-like concoctions are packed with additives, chemicals, toxins and other suspect ingredients that do damage to your kids' growing bodies and developing brains. Even Michelle Obama couldn't get the fake-food industry to stop. Don't get me started.
Now for the good news. According to the fitness experts at the American Council on Exercise, there are things you can do, and shouldn't do, to help your child evolve into a healthy eater, without going to war or ruining your day. But you have to have a plan.
My plan today is to share some of their best guidelines and advice, starting with the hardest one of all: being a role model!
1. Model healthy eating. Food is fuel, and you're being very fuel-ish if you don't see the connection between what you personally eat, how you feel and how your kids feel about what they eat. It's all connected and starts with what's in your fridge and on your plate. Walk the talk, and your kids will follow your lead.
2. Eat together. Family meals, eaten together in a calm surrounding, better promote health than do the grab-and-eat grazing patterns of many modern families. Take a stand! Sit down together at meal times, without devices and without drama.
3. Increase exposure to healthy foods. Repetition reaps rewards. Research shows that a kid may need to be offered a healthy food as many as 20 times before saying yes. So keep serving real food at your table and don't take it personally if it's rejected.