So you’re ready to make some healthy changes for your family. You’ve meal planned, bought supplements, gotten rid of the toxins, and are ready to make changes. In your mind, you see your family eating healthy foods, feeling better, and everyone is happy….
Then you make your first healthy meal and your kids revolt…
Sound familiar? I hear many variations of this from clients and friends when they start trying to eat healthier. Their kids are used to certain foods and are not happy when they have to make changes. Un fortunately, I think part of this is due to our culture catering to kids and having special foods for them (kids meals, separate menues for kids, endless treats and snacks shaped like cartoon characters…)
While unhealthy foods may not make kids feel immediately sick, they are filling the place of healthy foods in their diets at a critical time when the foundation for lifelong health is developing. Picky kids eating unhealthy foods become picky adults eating unhealthy foods and still bringing chips and treats for every lunch and this is when the health problems do begin.
There are also a record number of obese kids these days which is especially sad since kids should be naturally active, healthy and full of energy.
In my opinion, getting your kids on board can take a little tough love in the beginning but has vast rewards in the long run.
Today, I’m challenging you as the parent to put your children’s health before the immediate happiness and make some lasting changes for your family.
There are kids around the world who gladly eat liver, vegetables and even things like balut (don’t click on that if you are pregnant and have morning sickness!) but many of our kids are used to a diet high in sugars, simple starches and unhealthy fats, all which the body can be conditioned to crave. Breaking these habits is actually easier and faster in kids, though not always fun for them or you.
Here are a few suggestions that have worked with my kids and client’s kids:
- Start viewing food as for nutrition first and enjoyment second. Make sure the majority of your diet is actually nourishing (healthy meats, vegetables, fruits, broths, good fats, etc) and minimize the non-nourishing foods (crackers, cereal, sandwiches, etc)
- Just start serving the healthy food. Only put a little on their plates but require them to eat it before they eat anything else. If they “aren’t hungry” or don’t want to eat it, don’t push it, but don’t give them other food. They won’t starve from missing one meal because they are being picky.
- If they ask, explain that you are coking healthier foods to help make their bodies strong and their brains smart. Tell them that they don’t have to eat anything if they truly aren’t hungry but they won’t get any special options and they are not allowed to complain (and enforce that!). At our house, complainers have to leave the table and their meal is finished.
- Let your kids help with food preparation so they feel involved and invested in making healthy choices. If you can, also let them go to the store and help pick out colorful and healthy fruits and veggies so they will be more likely to want to try them or garden if you can.
- Don’t underestimate them. Talk to your kids about why some foods are healthy and some aren’t and let them make their own healthy choices sometimes. When I started doing this with my five year old I was surprised to see him voluntarily refuse cake, chips or ice cream at parties when they were offered to him, even without my help.
- Stop feeling like kids are entitled to treats and snacks as part of being a kid. For the most part, our kids are bombarded with sweets and unhealthy treats from a really young age. From birthday parties to school snack times to the endless kid friendly options. This is a huge disservice to them since this is such a critical time in lifelong health and we are encouraging forming bad habits with food.
- Read books like Paleo Pals or Eat Like a Dinosaur to help them understand and want to make healthy changes.
I know that school lunches and snacks can be especially tough to send healthy options for kids, so to help out, I’m giving away a case of That’s It Fruit Bars. They contain only dried fruit (no nuts, dairy or grains) so they are safe for school, even if allergies are an issue and my kids (5,4,2,1) loved them!
Enter below and then leave a comment telling me what you do to help your kids eat healthier (or what you will do if you’re new!) The contest only runs until July 8th, so enter fast!