With obesity on the rise in children, so are chronic health issues. Illnesses such as Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, asthma, and processing disorders are no longer reserved for adults. And why not, when children seem to only want to eat chicken nuggets, french fries, mac and cheese, soft drinks, cookies, chips, and all kinds of sweets.
I use to be a “Carb Junky” myself when I was a kid (sometimes I still am!) and I struggled with my weight. I now have three kids, two which were diagnosed with processing and gut/intestinal disorders. They too love these foods. Getting kids to eat healthy can be a major challenge, but I’ve found you just have to be creative, a little sneaky and very patient.
- Be an example. If you say you don’t like “anything green”, neither will they. Make eating healthy a family affair.
- Take kids shopping. Let them pick out fruits and vegetables they like. Encourage them to pick out more colorful veggies and explain why. Just so happens these colorful veggies are rich in nutrients and natural fiber!
- Let kids help plant a small garden. They will be excited to eat foods they helped plant and harvest.
- Teach kids how to cook. Let them choose and prepare vegetables they want for dinner. Younger children can wash carrots and sweet potatoes, while older children can cut them up. They will enjoy eating something they helped cook.
- Keep healthy snacks. Kids will eat what’s available so keep healthy snacks ready like fresh fruit with yogurt or fresh cut up vegetables (celery, carrots, cucumbers) along with hummus or low fat salad dressing.
- Introduce new foods. Add cauliflower to mac and cheese or mashed potatoes. Add pureed veggies (broccoli or squash) to spaghetti sauce or casseroles. Blend fruits and vegetables into smoothies. For finicky eaters, you may have to sneak these foods into other foods. At our house EVERYONE (including us adults) has to at least try one bite of a new food. It could take up to 15 introductions before a child will begin to adopt it into their food palate.
Remember...keep eating fun and always look for opportunities to teach your children about healthy food choices.