Raising children to eat healthy food has major hurdles when all they see on TV commercials is processed cereals loaded with sugars, and friends offering colas, and candy non-stop from parties & holidays.
Do my children eat junk food? Yes – the only way to avoid them from doing it is to live in a cabin in the middle of a non-civilized area with no TV and no friends – NOT PRACTICAL and not conducive to their emotional and psychological wellbeing! So yes, they do get a McD’s happy meal every once in a while and yes, they do get a cola on a special occasion…but it’s not a daily or weekly deal. I want my kids to feel “normal” like all their friends, yet teach them the whole time the reasons for “moderation” and “limiting” the junk. We focus on what the healthy food can do for our bodies – such as better & stronger in sports, better grades in school, and more energy to outrun their siblings!
Teaching our children the reasons for choosing healthy food just doesn’t seem to be the “in” thing now-a-days with the fast foods and two working parents. A family meal with everyone sitting at the dinner table is almost extinct! It IS tough! I juggle several part-time contract dietitian jobs around my kids’ school events and attempt to be the coach in some sports. My “taxi” cab schedule after school can leave anyone with a spinning head! That’s why we, as moms(parents), need to think ahead a little bit and become “planners” even if we weren’t born with that way of thinking! There are many cookbooks & internet sites out there that offer Crock-Pot Meal Recipes that can really come in handy! I also try to cook enough food for 2 night’s worth of eating. My husband was NOT a leftover food eater for years, but when he realized I couldn’t be super-mom every night, he caved in and is quite happy to have it a second night. Some foods can be fixed, frozen, and thawed out a week later to make a quick meal too! I’ve joined with two other friends where we all cooked different recipes out of the Eat Clean Cookbook . We would triple our recipe and keep one for our own family while giving the other two portions to the other two families. They would do the same! This allowed us to have 2 other meals already fixed for us so we could have healthy meals on our busy nights!
We seem to live at the ballfields…from softball/baseball to soccer to basketball to soccer(again) then back to softball/baseball. Two kids in non-stop sports and extra specialized one-on-one lessons leaves me exhausted at night! So, we have adjusted to some ice chest dinners many nights! To cut back on time in making sandwiches at home, I just throw in whole wheat pita or Orowheat sandwich round bread in the cooler, along with some nitrite free meat (Hormel) OR natural peanut butter with all fruit spread, some water or juice boxes, greek yogurt or high fructose corn syrup FREE yogurt sticks, and a piece of fruit. Sometimes I have premixed protein drinks on ice! And sometimes, we have the crockpot sitting in the cooler waiting on us! And whamo, we have a “fast food meal” when on the run and we know it’s healthy!
Some DON’TS with children:
Do not make them “clean their plate”- this promotes obesity (yes, I was raised to clean my plate like most of my generation and my parent’s generation. This all goes back to the Great Depression. Keep in mind that you can always wrap it up and heat it up later when they are hungry again!)
Never use the word “fat” in reference to food intake! Emphasize we eat “healthy” for strong muscles, strong bones, good grades, and so much energy that your school friends can’t keep up with you!
Some DO’S with children:
Continuously offer healthy snacks and meals – they might be resistant at first, but they will eventually give in! Research has proven that the more it’s offered, the higher chance they will want to eat it. Instead of a candy bowl on the counter, have a fruit bowl instead.
LIMIT junk and colas. No, I didn’t say avoid! Let kids be kids! But LIMIT. Each person has their own version of “limiting” so here’s mine: one sweet a day (a cola is a sweet too!), you must try each vegetable on the plate, colas are not kept in the house but can be consumed on our “dates” out as a special occasion.
Keep in mind, children learn by what they SEE. Walking the talk is most important! And planning ahead is a must!
Happy healthy eating!!