Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Help Your Children Help Themselves!

I try very hard not to be judgmental, but come on, I am only human. Yesterday morning while grabbing a loaf of pecan/rice bread and almond butter at the grocery by work, two high school teens placed their bounty on the conveyor. Now most times I don't even bother looking at people's food choices, because I just know it will upset me, but this time for some reason I was compelled to look. Well, maybe I was more distracted by the bright orange liter of Fanta and the bright yellow bag of Funions (is that even how you spell it?). It was 7:15 in the morning and this was the teens' breakfast of choice. While I realize by the teen age these kids are making many of their own food choices, I couldn't help but wonder if this boy or girl had ever witnessed their influential adult eating/enjoying a salad?
Point being; children learn to make food choices based on what they see adults and peers eating. It is a giant snowball affect. So please do not assume that just because you are the aunt, your niece or nephew is not watching your every move during dinner. Help yourself and help the children around you make the best possible food choices they can make. Let's change the snowball effect. Oh, and this has NOTHING and EVERYTHING to do with body image. If you are constantly onto the "next best diet" because you have to lose that 10 extra pounds, realize this effects your children too. Instead, your household should focus on what components make up a healthy diet, not what shake you will be replacing your next meal with. Here are some tips to make healthy eating a little easier for your child or teen (and you too):
    Taken by Henrik Kettunen
  • Place colorful, pre-cut fruits and veggies, in a "see-through" container on the lower levels of the fridge. In the same way Fanta got my attention due to its "fake" orange color, bright red strawberries or carrots will attract your little one.
  • Put some honey in plain Greek yogurt and let your children use this as dip for their fruits. Or put fresh herbs from the garden and a little salt in Greek yogurt for a dip for the veggies.
  • Stay away from a pantry full of sugary cereals and processed foods. Advertising works, even on the growing mind, don't be part of "selling" these brightly packaged items to your children in their own homes.
  • Make weekend breakfast fun. This does not mean with doughnuts, bacon and sugary pancakes. Try an oatmeal breakfast bar and include little bowls of fruit (berries, bananas, etc) and different toppings (nuts, brown sugar, honey, pure maple syrup). When they feel like they have chosen to eat it, they will be happier and enjoy it. This is also a great option when out at a restaurant.  I once witnessed this with a girlfriend and her two year old. Worked like a charm. Ask for a bowl of oatmeal, with any toppings on the side.
  • Ask your children to make the grocery list for their packed lunches and use their response as a way to talk about healthy eating habits. Let them help make their lunch. This could end up being a bragging right! :)
  • Keep juice boxes to a minimum if even at all.  Instead infuse pitchers of water with fresh fruits.  The kids will think this is neat to see and they will stay away from extra sugar drink choices.  Plus, they will be getting used to drinking water. 

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