Teach Your Kids the Art of Resistance to a Bad Diet ~ by ~ Mackenzie Fox
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the past 30 years childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents. Being overweight can’t only harm your child’s health such as increase the risk of diabetes 2 and heart disease, but it can also take a heavy emotional toll of being overweight or obese. And the major culprit is – junk food.
Before the far reaching effects of our children’s unhealthy eating patterns continue into adulthood, turning us into a universally obese nation, it’s about time we start acting responsibly toward ourselves and our family. As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”
In an age of an all-pervading obesity crisis, being a mother can be tough. Commercially prepared and packaged food loaded with empty calories and flavor enhancing additives lurks from every supermarket shelf, TV ad and fast food restaurant chain. Although snacking on chips, cookies, cheese puffs and candy bars may seem as innocent as the adorable eyes of your little angel, the truth is far less palatable than you’d think.
As I am writing this, I am in between my meals, snacking on a handful of dried apples. Not only am I trying to reduce my daily calorie intake, but I am also setting an example for my little ones. Instead of gorging myself on vanilla ice cream and chocolate chip cookies, I’ve opted for a more nutritious (and less mouth-watering, I do admit) alternative. So, as a parent, what else can you do to help your children avoid the trap of eating junk food and becoming overweight, unhealthy and unhappy in the long run?
Youngsters need your help to develop healthy eating and drinking habits. When choosing your groceries, take a kid friendly approach. Actively involving your kids in the shopping process and meal preparation is a great way for them to learn the basics of healthy eating. Instead of reaching for the much loved salty snacks and a can of soda, teach them how to select a fresh looking pineapple or tomato and let them help out in the kitchen. Simple tasks such as washing lettuce or stirring a meal will make them feel involved and more motivated to eat.
Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, but much more rewarding. Therefore, make a habit of celebrating healthy foods and eating together as a family. Kids love the routine! Don’t get your child become distracted with watching TV while eating – turn it off. By sticking to regular meal times and sitting together at the dinner table the kid will feel more inclined to eat whatever is on their plate. If the kids see you eating a suspiciously looking new vegetable, eventually they will be prompted to do the same.
But don’t expect any drastic change to happen overnight. If your little one is a picky eater who perceives raw tomatoes as wet, slimy and disgusting, be consistent, but flexible and creative. Try dipping them in an oil free sauce or serve a tomato juice instead. With children’s fear of the unknown, introduction of new foods takes time and some skill. As the saying goes, Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon does. Cultivate your child’s curiosity and encourage them to try new foods by simply having them available.
Whatever the approach, do not pressurize your child into eating new foods only because you know they’re healthy and nutritious. Instead, be patient, and let them try on their own. In the meantime, be as informative as you can about the health benefits and importance of eating a well balanced meal. Eventually, your kids will learn to accept that eating is about meeting long term goals, not short term satisfaction.
In the face of a growing obesity crisis, teaching your children how to eat healthy is the best way of investing in them and their carefree future. Creating healthy habits, not restrictions is about eating a variety of fresh, wholesome and nourishing foods with an occasional takeaway or energy dense dessert. As Thomas Edison once wisely predicted: The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.
I want to thank Mackenzie for her guest post and you can follow her on Twitter.