Every parent strives for their children to eat healthier, but every parent struggles with the way that their children eat. How can you get your child to choose real foods over junk foods? Is this just a dream?
What I hope you take away from this article:
How sharing about how you feed your children will connect you with others
What parents do wrong in an attempt to get kids to eat better
Why what’s common isn’t necessarily normal when it comes to diet and health
Why so many chronic diseases are start with nutrition and are completely preventable
How learning lifelong habits starts in the first seven years of life
How a food reward conditions kids to expect a “treat” for accomplishments
Why kids don’t care about what motivates YOU to have THEM eat better
Making children aware of how not-so-good food makes them feel
Whether it’s ever too late to make changes (for kids or adults!)
How major sports figures touting healthy nutrition is now inspiring kids to eat well
Why parents have to be the example for their kids (because they’ll see right through you)
Why even a small commitment can lead to bigger commitments down the road
You are sitting at the dinner table and you place some vegetables on your child’s plate as the plainly stare at you saying that they are not “hungry” (i.e. not going to eat that). And then after dinner they come to you and ask if they can have a snack. Every parent goes through this, it’s frustrating, and there are things you can do about it.
Parents often discuss freely amongst each other how they feed their children. Everyone has their own methods, but this is a common topic of discussion and food naturally connects us in society. Whether we are at church, the motocross track, other sports events, a relative’s house, food is often that the center of the discussion of how we are raising our children. Our children and our food are powerful connectors in our social environment. This is one reason why it is so important to practice good nutrition and set good examples.
I often see parents put too much pressure on their kids. They think their kids have to be perfect when they eat and this is often backfires. Also parents have many false expectations about how their kids should eat. It is probably wise not to beat yourself into the ground. Always ask yourself what motivates your child? And the answer is, it depends. Your child is changing rapidly day to day and year to year. So realize this and try to realize at what stage of development they are in.
Kids judge food by how they feel right after they eat something. As a parent you need to explain this. For example, if they eat a candy bar, explain to them that indeed, the candy bar does taste very good. Often they will later feel tired and grumpy. Emphasize that these foods can do that despite the initial reward.
Don’t get stuck in the urgency of getting your kid to eat healthy right away. Work on short-term strategies. Working on the short-term strategies helps the long term ones. At the end of the day it is about how your child is going to eat for the rest of their life. Constantly nagging kids to eat healthy is a mistake. Hiding food can be useful but it only works in the short term. This doesn’t teach the lesson. There is an old expression, “at the end of the day don’t forget the lesson.” Ask yourself what are you teaching your kids? How are they going to learn to eat? Remember why you want your children to eat healthy. Because in one year from now you know the nutrition is going to affect them in a certain way. You want them to develop a healthy relationship with food. But again remember they are young.
You may find that your kids only eat well when you bribe them, nag them, or guilt them. Don’t think for one minute that when you are not there… They default back to unhealthy eating.
Chronic disease is on the rise. Some studies show that four out of five people will develop chronic disease and this all starts with food. It is important to think of the ramifications of food. A good example of this is getting your kids to drink defer or fermented milk. At first you might not like the thought of this. But realize that a single glass of kefir contains nearly a trillion count good bacteria for your gut. In addition, lactose intolerant people can generally drink kefir. If you add some fruit and a bit of honey to the kefir, most kids love it.
A good example is when you’re with your child’s sporting event. Take a motocross race or a soccer game. When they do well in the race or match, you tell your child, “hey let’s go to McDonald’s!” This really is not a reward. Going to McDonald’s just because you did well in a race is only going to hurt the child in the long run. Another good example is when your child has a rough day. You may offer them something such as ice cream. This teaches a very bad message that when the day is not going right junk food is the answer. This is not only wrong but leads to dangerous habits that can also lead to chronic diseases.
You have to ask yourself, why is this food good? Try to teach your kids that the food is good for reason. A good example is that when you eat healthy fats it’s good for your brain, and you will be smart. When you eat your meats, that the iron makes more red blood cells and you won’t get as tired at the end of the moto. Teach them that certain foods prevent cramps.
Something else you can do with your children when they eat a food such as spinach, tell them to run around the room and reward them for help fast they run. Sometimes when they are young enough let them think the spinach is what’s helping them run fast, this builds a healthy reward system. Even if it is the same strategy that junk food companies use!
Always remember that your kids see straight through you. Be consistent and be a role model. A good example of a motocross star who changed his career by changing his diet, is Zach Osborne. Many people know that Zach won many titles at Loretta’s in Ponca City and many other races. Zach was known as one of the fastest kids to come through the amateur ranks and at 16 he turned pro. It was easy to see that Zach was among the world’s fastest on a motorcycle but when you look at his body he was overweight and visibly out of shape. This all caught up with him at his first National at Budds Creek. Zach was leading the entire field by over 30 seconds and had to pull off because of sheer exhaustion. That is when I met Zach. From that day on I worked very hard at changing Zach’s diet; getting him to eat the right foods. But he had been eating bad foods for so many years that it actually took years to reverse the damage that the poor nutrition had done to his body. Zach is an example of someone who actually switched to what is called a low carbohydrate diet, and he found that this type of diet was right for his body. He follows this diet very strictly and is healthier for it. He credits his longevity in racing to his diet among the other things. Today Zach is a great example of how nutrition changed his life and good nutrition advocate. Please don’t take this as a suggestion that everyone should do the same as Zach. You can follow Zach’s family at www.anourishednest.com. Everyone is different and needs to be treated as such.
I hope this article has helped you a little bit in your journey in getting your kids to eat healthy. Realize it is really an important endeavor, and that your kids will thank you for a lifetime.