Who doesn’t want a super healthy child who eats their veggies with out the stress of bribing, coaxing and worrying?
Well parents, like lots of other things in the lifespan of a child it starts with who? US! I highlight the golden rule habits to launch or begin a gentle U-turn if you are already on the journey and need course adjustment.
- Food is not a reward for good behavior or other achievements. Using food creates lifelong cues to eat as a reward. I bet you can find one of these in your own eating pattern. Got through that project, meeting, long run and so on – expecting a food reward can be a lifelong habit. Instead buy or read a new book, take a trip to the park or play your child’s favorite game.
- Eat YOUR veggies! A child learns eating habits from their parents. Exposure to fruits and vegetables at every meal teaches them what to eat.
- Eat with your child. They again see what to eat (good choices) and how and when to eat.
- Check in to see what meals and snacks are offered at day care, school and after-care. If you see too many refined carbs and too few fruits and fresh veggie options, send 1 snack to balance the others offered. Your child will still feel the social norm of eating what his peers have but you get to instill the value of balance – what I call normal eating!
- Limit screen time – yours (ok and your child’s, but this is about your habits for your child to imitate). Lose the habit of mindless eating in front of the TV. This teaches where, why and how to eat (mindfully at the table).
I have a few tips to further encourage a great relationship with food for your family. It is joy to raise healthy eaters and kids who can cook. Experience the joy and lose the stress.
- Take your child with you to the grocery at least once a month and spend some time reading labels, comparing costs and giving them ownership of a few choices.
- Plant at least 1 vegetable or herb and encourage them to tend to it.
- Cook together. I rotated and let one child select one or two menu items they were interested in learning to cook and we had a little cooking time on Sunday afternoon. The few years invested reaped big results in their food choices in college and as young adults.