Tips for Good Eating
How do you encourage your child to eat healthy food?
The easiest and best way to encourage your child to eat a diet full of healthy food, (fruits, vegetables, whole grain and low fat meat and milk), is to eat one yourself and begin with them as soon as they start eating solids and continue for years to come.
Most, if not all, babies begin by loving pureed fruits and vegetables. It is only when we start offering processed food full of sugar, salt and artificial flavors that they no longer want to eat the healthy options.
If you continue only offering great healthy food, they will continue to eat it. It is tough to compete with food that has been designed to be addictive.
Food scientists work very hard figuring out what to put into food so that you will eat more of it. Adding both sugar and salt to a food will encourage eating beyond fullness.
For example, did you know that some cereals have more salt than chips, and crackers have a lot of sugar in them? Your child probably wouldn’t eat as much if these snacks didn’t have the added salt or sugar.
If your child has already turned into a picky eater, eating only chicken nuggets, chips, candy, processed crackers, white bread, sugar cereals and microwavable prepackaged meals, realize that they became picky because of the addictive nature of these foods and because they were given to them as a food choice.
In studies done with rats, if rats were given only their rat chow to eat, they remained at a healthy weight and did not overeat. However, when their diet was changed to one full of junk food like the typical American diet, they ate to the point of severe obesity. They no longer were able to control their intake. The same thing can happen to us and to our children when offered junk food.
We know that with your busy schedule, getting your child to eat better and be active enough can sometimes be stressful and frustrating for both you and your child.
A popular prescription for the past several decades has been, “You provide the what and where and your child decides if and how much food they will eat.” This technique works in a world where the only options are healthy ones but that is not the world that we live in.
Most children will eat the carbohydrate offered first, go back for more, may be eat the protein if it is breaded or dipped in a sweet sauce, and rarely the fruit and vegetable. Children have been given complete control over the food they will and will not eat to the point where they select only processed foods and end up overeating them.
Children do need a say in what they eat, but that should never be more important than the structure around eating a healthy diet. You would never put your child in charge of bedtime by offering them a bed and saying when and if they are ready, they can go to sleep.
They need to be taught good sleeping habits. They also need to be taught good eating habits every day for many years, especially during those times when they exert their independence, such as during the terrible two’s and when they are starting school.
As a mom or dad, it is your responsibility to provide your child with the healthiest food. Your child will decide if he or she is going to eat, and how much. But there is a big BUT in there. If they do not eat the healthy options, do not offer other unhealthful options or more of the grains without finishing the vegetables first.
Found at Build Healthy Kids