Washington: Getting kids to eat healthy is one of the most challenging aspects of raising them.
So, what’s a parent to do?
According to CNN, here’s what can be done:
– Do nots? There are many
Don’t let your kids get hooked on sugar, says Agatha Achindu, a mother of three. “Sugar is in just about all packaged food these days, in one form or another,” said Achindu. Banish soda and other sugary drinks from the household, read the labels and don’t buy anything with added sugar, she says.
You might not be able to control everything your child eats, especially when your kids are not at home, but you can give them a good healthy foundation. She suggests not bringing junk food into the house: “If it’s not there, they won’t eat it.”
– Make food interesting
Lori Day, an educational psychologist and consultant, says her mom always told her that she was a terrible eater and that it would be karma if her daughter also didn’t like to eat well. But that’s not what happened. When her now-grown daughter was young, Day thought that if she found food interesting, she’d be more likely to try it. So Day let her daughter shell peas, count them, sort them by size and play with them before putting them in the pot. She loved eating them raw or cooked, Day said.
“My main tip is to make food interesting if your child is naturally curious, enjoys science/nature and is willing to engage,” Day said.
– Get the kids involved
“Kids can be inspired to eat healthy when they are part of the meal and snack planning process,” said Margaret McSweeney, host of the podcast Kitchen Chat, on which she has interviewed about 200 chefs, cookbook authors and food industry experts. “A trip to the local farmers market or produce aisle can be an adventure and connect them with the source of food.”
– Give kids choices
Ava Parnass, an infant-child psychotherapist said that from a young age, parents should let their kids choose foods, fruits, vegetables and snacks they like, within reason.
“Give them more room to choose as they get older,” she added. And never get into a power struggle with your kids about eating, food or even healthy food, she said.
– Model healthy eating
Our kids watch everything we do, so it should be no surprise that they can be influenced to make better choices if they watch us doing the same. Pam Moore says her kids, ages three and five, always see her and husband eating healthy.
“Both my husband and I typically add greens to our eggs (spinach, kale, Swiss chard, whatever is around) at breakfast. I always add greens to my smoothies. I often keep sliced veggies (bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers) washed, sliced and ready to eat for snacks,” said Moore.
Added Parnass, the author and psychotherapist, “Our children will ask for bites as time goes on, as they like to copy what we do, not what we say.”
– Get colorful
Kathy Beymer said that her mom taught her when she was growing up that she should eat a bunch of colors on her plate, so she has passed that on to her kids.
“We talk about food colors and how it’s healthiest to make meals that have a variety of colors, a little red, a little green, some orange, a bit of yellow,” said Beymer, a mom of two.
“If everything on the plate is beige, then they know that’s not a healthy meal and that they need to add some brighter colors.” (ANI)