It can be a challenge to make sure your children get proper nutrition.
You could be like me when my children were young and just simply not realize that I didn’t know what I didn’t know! The two subjects, “children” & “nutrition”, each on their own can be a lot to juggle. The two together are down right overwhelming!
The sweet potato fiasco….
She sat at the table for what seemed like an eternity…..but she was only around 7 years of age, so five minutes of idle time is an eternity. The food on her plate was already cold and her mother had finished cleaning up all the dishes from dinner. All she would do was sit there… looking at that weird smelling potato thingy on her plate. She was told that she could not leave the table until she ate it. Would her mother would change her mind??
As parents, it can be challenging to make sure our kids are eating healthy.
Insuring that they are getting in a variety of foods with excellent nutrition in them is a massive undertaking. I have to admit that I failed terribly in this area when raising my kids and wish I realized the importance of childhood nutrition when they were young.
Yes, I knew that they needed veggies and fruit. I also knew that they didn’t need junk food but there is so much more to nutrition than that.
Here is what I didn’t know: that variety in their food was important, what the affect of simple carbs and an overabundance of such carbs would be to my kids, that their the exposure to foods (or lack of) at a very young age would set the stage for their future health.
Childhood Nutrition…..it begins with education
Recently I read an interesting article about parents and their influence on kids and their eating habits. It talked about childhood obesity and I found this comment to be of interest: “Genes define the propensity to become overweight, and diet and physical activity can determine to what extent that propensity becomes a reality.” You can read the entire article HERE.
There are many excellent takeaways from that article that talks about childhood nutrition….these are some that I liked most:
- Start at a young age – the article mentioned that you could introduce them to a greater variety of foods after 6 months of age. Now, I do remember introducing my firstborn to rice cereal at 6 months of age. I wish now, I would have been brave enough to make homemade baby food. There is so much more now that I know! It would have been great to have known this information THEN!
- Restriction vs Pressure vs Rewarding – In reading that section of the article, I reflected back on my youth and then on how I did things with my own children. Never did I think of Rewarding! I did however know about pressure and eating…..it didn’t work for me or my kids! Try making it fun and remember to be a good model of healthy behaviors.
- Repetition – This article mentions that kids will need several exposures to foods before kids will have an acceptable liking of them. So, just because your child shrugs their nose at the stuff you are wanting them to try out, doesn’t mean that you should give up. Maybe try preparing it a different way or marry up that food with something that they will eat and make it a fun experience for them.
Here are some ideas to help get your children more likely to try and eat healthy foods:
You can create a garden with their help. Start from seeds and let them help plant, water, pick the weeds out of the garden and pick the veggies when the are ready to be picked. Let them make name stakes and put them where the plants will come up. Let them help every step of the way allowing them to feel the ownership of it.
Let them help prepare the food. Make this a fun activity and let them sample along the way . Isn’t that one of the things we LOVE about being the cook….all the sampling! 😉 Make foods that are prepared with kids in mind. Maybe make shapes or faces with green beans and carrot sticks…let your and their imagination go wild.
***What I love about both of the ideas above is that you are not only helping them get use to healthy variety of foods but you are teaching them that hard work can be fun. I think I failed at making these types of activities fun. They were never fun for me as a kid, so I never knew it could be different for my kids. You can make gardening, cleaning, cooking, prep for the table and many other “chore” like activities fun and at the same time teach your kids work ethic and responsibility!
How “repeat tasting” and the “one taste” game can help – Each time you prepare a food they don’t really like, be sure to have them try at least one bite. I would try to incorporate that item into your food routine more often, so they will have to try it out more frequently. More exposure to that food will help them develop a taste for it. Playing the One taste game can make it more fun and less stressful for everyone as well. Say something like “it’s time for our One Taste Game….let’s see if your taste buds will like it!”
Rewards for Healthy Choices – I have never met a child that did not like to be rewarded for doing something right. This can also apply to making healthy food choices. Make a food chart and put the foods that they have the most difficulty wanting to eat on there. Each time they eat that food, reward them with a sticker and praise them for the healthy choice they made.
Did she ever eat that Sweet Potato?
The little girl at the beginning of this post was me! When I was young, I hated sweet potatoes! Neither was I one of those kids that would try new things. That was definitely not a fun exercise and one that I loathed! Still to this day remember that evening, sitting at the table trying to eat that stinkin’ sweet potato! You know what I do not remember?? If I ever did eat it or if my mom finally relented and let me get up without eating it! But, I am happy to report that I now eat sweet potatoes! 😉 I like them with just a dash of cinnamon and nothing else. (I always was a plain Jane kinda girl!)
I hope you read some ideas today that will help you with your children and their nutrition. My goal is to help educate as many people as I can to obtain better knowledge of nutrition and their health…one person at a time! Did you enjoy the content of this post? Be sure to use the social icons below and share with your family and friends!
Until next time, Stay Healthy!