We all grew up hearing that you are what you eat. As children, this meant little to us; we would have been perfectly happen to become Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or a giant jelly bean.
Now, as a parent, you probably feel that karma has come to get you as you battle your own child’s poor eating habits. Just as your parents did, you worry that your child will not grow healthy, not be smart enough, and not develop properly if they aren’t eating healthy.
First, you need to stop worrying. Children will eat when they are hungry, and they will grow and develop just fine, even if they seem to subsist on minimal food. As most pediatricians will tell you, you should certainly make healthful foods available to your child and encourage them to eat well, but you also need to calm down and just trust that all will be fine. That being said, you are still worried, aren’t you? So, here are some suggestions for helping raise a healthier child:
Guide Your Child in Their Food Choices
Most kids, particularly after they turn six or seven, seem to live to counter everything their parents say. If you say left, they go right; you say the sky is blue they call it gray. You can’t win. Turning food into a battleground makes no sense.
Many children feel that they, as children, do not have control over their own lives, and they are right in many ways. But one area that they quickly learn they can control is what goes into their mouths.
If you make food a battleground they will take a stand and you will lose. Instead, encourage your child to try different foods. Be positive when they do, and say nothing when they do not try something new or do not like it.
Make Eating Healthy Easy for Your Child
When children are very young they can only eat what you provide them. Put healthful snacks in front of them–like sliced apples, raisins, carrot sticks and so forth–and when they are hungry enough they will eat them.
But remember, you need to role model that behavior; don’t expect your child to be satisfied with an apple and milk when you are eating a candy bar with a soda. Also, strive to build positive habits when they are younger and you control what they eat.
If your child is super picky there are two strategies you can try. First, have them prepare the meal with you. Children are more likely to eat a meal that they had a hand in preparing and are proud of. Second, try making snacks interesting in appearance, and offer new healthy options on a regular basis.
For example, slice some bananas into wagon wheels, put a dollop of peanut butter on each, and then dot each with two Rice Krispie Cereal pieces to make “Googly Eyed Bananas”, a fun treat any time.
Don’t Watch Television While Eating
Studies have shown that when people eat while watching television they ingest far fewer calories. It is mindless eating with little enjoyment. Television is fine in small amounts, but it is not for meal times.
Do not let your child eat in front of the television. Teach them to focus on and enjoy their food, and also to enjoy the social interaction that generally goes along with a good meal.
Encourage Your Child To Be Active
An active child who is burning off a lot of calories is more likely to be hungry enough to try new things. They also often crave healthful foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
If possible, play energetic games with your child, things like skiing, baseball, family races and family dance time. Also, enroll your child in an activity such as gymnastics, sports, martial arts and the like.
Your Child Will Be Fine
Of course, children can get sick and even die from malnutrition. But no child has ever died from eating only macaroni and cheese, and pizza. Whatever strange, limited tastes your child has, continue to offer healthful, fresh foods, be a good role model by eating healthful foods, and talk to your children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
Eventually, their tastes will mature and they will branch out; until then, they will continue to outgrow their clothes faster than you can buy new ones no matter what they are eating.
Joseph Green is editor-in-chief and owner at NutraBulk. NutraBulk specializes in best high quality of bulk supplements for the benefit of everyone’s health. He is also very passionate about researching and writing on various health issues. Be sure to connect with Joseph on Twitter and Facebook for more great health, wellness and fitness information.