As I traverse this challenging world of healthy and organic eating I have been noticing how easily my kids have been adapting to the changes we are making. I would give credit to my amazing and wonderful parenting skills but I’m pretty sure I’m not any better than the next mom when it comes to skillful child-rearing (especially because my yell to whisper ratio is really, really high).
My kids have been such good sports about the whole thing. They have tried new things. When I refuse to give them something because “it is not good for them” they say ok and move on. To date I have had no opposition what-so-ever, and my son has even started drinking seltzer instead of asking for a soda. He never was allowed soda very often, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t ask for one every day. Now, I can say yes more often knowing he is drinking a natural product free of sugar and preservatives. He will ask if something is good for him and really seems eager to learn how to make his own right choices.
So, what it is that makes some kids completely unwilling to eat a breakfast that doesn’t have marshmallows in it?
What is it that makes some kids refuse to eat vegetables?
What is it that makes some kids refuse to eat anything that is not white or rainbow colored?
What is it that makes them shake their heads, stomp their feet and flat out refuse to eat the healthy food put in font of them?
What is it that makes them whine and scream and yell for their favorite junk food?
There is an answer, but most people won’t like the answer, especially if their child exhibits the behaviors I mentioned above.
IT’S THE PARENTS
Could be one, could be both – it doesn’t matter, parenting is a team sport so if there are two, they both get the blame.
Parents need to do 3 main things when it comes to getting their kids to eat healthy.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Be the change you want to see. Yes I am channeling Ghandi. Your kids will mimic your behavior. If you read labels, they will read labels. If you choose water over soda, they will choose water over soda. It may not be instantaneous but it will come in time. Involve them in the decisions if they are old enough. Teach them. Tell them why. In the end our kids look up to us (as scary as that idea is) and it is only natural for them to want to do what we do.
AVOID THE TEMPTATION
Remove the crap from your home. Avoid the crap when you are out. Out of sight, out of mind. Provide only healthy choices. They will eat when they get hungry enough. Not to mention that if you pay attention, there are plenty of healthy alternatives that taste amazing. It’s not all cardboard and water. If you want a treat, make sure to make it from scratch from healthy ingredients, make a small serving and make it only once a week.
TELL THEM NO
Just say no. Now I am channeling Nancy Reagan. Parents today are often afraid to say no. They use excuses and say “my kid won’t eat anything but Pop-Tarts” but let me ask you this, who is buying the Pop-Tarts? Hmmmm? It’s very easy to deflect kids attention to something else. Tell them no Pop Tarts, but…and find some reasonable alternative. They are making healthy and organic foods that mimic some of their favorite snacks – so give them the alternative. I bet they jump at it, especially when faced with that or nothing. If you give in to their tantrums, you lose. Forever.
I’m not saying you have to be 100% perfect, but in this day and age with all we have learned about negative effects of processed foods on our healthy and our waist-lines, it is a parents job to protect their kids in every way possible, and making sure they eat right is the most basic protection you can offer. Not only is it the most basic, it is also potentially the most long-term and something that can benefit them for their entire lives.
I heard an someone say not that long ago that they strive for 80/20. 80% healthy and organic, the other 20% they give themselves some slack and allow room for treats and special occasions.
I like that.
I challenge you to strive for 80/20.
When it comes to protecting your kids you already strive for 110%, 80% should be easy to achieve.