Helping our Children Choose Healthy Food
As a parent, it can be a challenge to get your kids into a healthy eating pattern. So many foods out there are geared to pull your kids in to thinking they are really cool and delicious. The problem is that most of these foods have very little nutritional value and are laden with chemicals and dyes. Food gratification is a thing! Most of us Mom’s have pulled that card a few times. I know I have offered ice cream for good behavior. I try to keep it to the very special occasion!
Many years ago, my son asked if we could go to McDonald’s. We have never been there, however, he had heard from other kids how amazing it was. He felt left out in some his public school playground conversations with his friends. He wanted to have the McDonald’s experience. I quickly found a very informative, factual YouTube video on what was in McDonalds food and shared it with my children. After watching it, they decided they did not need to ever try McDonalds after all! Knowledge is power, even for our little minds!
I find the visual learning experience to work a lot better with my children than auditory when it comes to foods. Documentaries on healthy eating that get into the WHY really hit home for them. Try this with your kids!
Creating a Healthy Lunch Box
For elementary school-aged children, the “can I have” question often revolves around school lunches and snacks. I like to collaborate with my kiddos on their lunches and we make sure we are hitting all of our nutrient bases. Set up some guidelines and get the kids on board. When my kids ask for that occasional treat, I let them have it. We have some things they can have once per year. I would rather say you can have it “1-2x/year” than a flat out “No.” We then discuss WHY we might not want to put that food in our body every day or with any frequency.
Smart Sweets are great! They are fairly new on the market! They allow me to put a little treat in their lunches without any chemicals or actual sugar!
When making school lunches, make sure that kids get protein, a serving of fruit and vegetable, as well as some whole grain. By the end of last year, my 2nd and 3rd grader were dong most of the lunch making with my help at times. It’s good practice for them, helps them to learn independence, and it teaches them about nutrition. They got excited about even having leftovers from the night before in a thermos to keep it warm.
Teach your children. SHOW them how much sugar is in a food by measuring out actual sugar into a bowl. SHOW them the impact of sodium, sugar, processed foods, dyes, high fructose corn syrup, etc. on their bodies. Teach them to read labels. It may take time but the learning happens.
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