I am asked many times for “tricks” or “tips” to get kids to eat more healthy foods. Unfortunately, a simple trick won’t do it. Besides, the goal is for children to develop lifelong healthy eating habits. If we trick them into eating right, they will never have really learned what it takes and what it means to eat healthily. I do believe we can set them up to make better choices and develop tastes for healthier foods, but parents need to be engaged and committed to this idea.
Children are constantly growing. Their nutrition needs are much greater than adults. Growing is a lot of work, and work needs calories, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. This means they can be hungry quite often. Think about how frequently a baby nurses or bottle feeds. They are at the most rapid growth stage in their life. Children do slow down as they get older, however they still need to fuel those bodies for growth.
So if kids are growing so much and need so many calories, why is there a current health issue related to overweight and obese children? Many factors play into this, including food and exercise but we will save that topic for a later post. The point I will make is that kids need lots of healthy foods and guidance from family to try new foods. Nutrient dense foods should make up the majority of their diet.
In an ideal situation, kids would be offered a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, protein sources (animal or plant), healthy fats and whole grains everyday, in a no-pressure, comfortable, reliable setting. Treats or desserts would be included from time to time in moderate amounts. Foods would not be used to reward or punish behavior. Children would learn to serve themselves and listen to satiety signals from their bodies. This is a great model to follow and can be the basis for a very healthy view on food and feeding. This also takes work, as most parenting does. It is completely worth it though. Nutritionally, socially, and emotionally, this is worth it.
There is a lot to know about family feeding but it is attainable. The time you put in now to help your children develop healthy eating habits will benefit them throughout their life. I would love to help your family get on track today. Follow my blog, instagram and facebook. Send me an email to ask questions about nutrition education and if it is right for you. Make an appointment with me, we can discuss your family’s needs and put together a plan that will work for you. We will talk about portion sizes, reading labels and healthy choices. All families are different and need different care. I hope to hear from you soon!