Healthy Eating is for Kids too!

11 07 2011

Jessica Peacock

Something I’ve heard from a lot of participants is that it’s difficult to eat healthy when there are kids (or grandkids) in the house. I can agree with this: it probably is difficult. However, what I don’t agree with is the idea that just because you have kids, you have to keep lots of “kid food” in the house.
Kids need to eat healthy too!!!

Did you know that we are born with a taste preference for sweet? And our taste for salty develops quickly after birth as well. Unfortunately, it’s much harder to develop preference for lots of foods that are good for us – such as vegetables. What helps a child begin to like a food is repeated exposure to it – they have to try it lots of times before they will start to like something! You can make this a little easier by pairing foods kids don’t initially like (such as broccoli) with something they do prefer (a small amount of cheese sauce). Over time, the more you feed the child the broccoli (even without sauce), the more likely he or she will be to begin to enjoy it. So even if you think your child is picky, continue to provide lots of healthy options and encourage him or her to try new things repeatedly.

Getting kids to eat their fruits and veggies WILL be more difficult though if these foods aren’t in the house or have to compete with more popular foods like snack cakes or chips. By limiting the availability of junk foods or less healthy options, you will help your child develop better eating habits at a young age – and hopefully prevent weight problems in the future!

A strategy I think is useful for getting kids to eat healthy is to offer them choices. Kids like to feel in control, so if you try to order them to eat certain things they might become rebellious or resistant. Instead, give your kids a choice: “You can have strawberries or carrot sticks for a snack. Which would you like?” This limits the child’s options for a snack, but still allows him or her the power of choosing which food to eat.

The earlier you can start your kids or grandkids on the path to healthy eating, the easier it will be to instill good habits. That being said though, it’s never too late to start! You might get some backlash in the beginning, but remember: YOU KNOW BEST! If you want your entire family to be healthy and happy, then good eating needs to be a priority for everyone – even kids!

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