How to Get Your Kids to Give Up Junk and Eat Healthy Food

Please welcome Becky Mauldin, N.D. of Pure Vitality!  Becky is passionate about helping others regain their health and stay healthy.  Becky knows first hand what it’s like to deal with chronic illnesses and allergies and she want to help people overcome them.  You can read her inspiring story of how she overcame a life threatening illness through prayer and alternative medicine here.

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Is your family protesting your new healthy way of eating? It can be difficult to transition to a healthy diet when you have children. As you may already know, changing your whole family’s eating habits overnight is likely to cause loud opposition. No one likes having their favorite foods snatched away. Instead, proceed gradually with just small changes at a time. I have had to learn these things the hard way, so here are some tips to make your transition easier.

  • Fix delicious healthy food: such as the Raw Chocolate Cups or gluten-free Pear Cobbler from my cookbook, Vibrant Health, and let them taste it without making a big deal about how healthy it is. When you make truly delicious food, you will win them over much easier.
  • Make gradual changes: you can mix the whole grain flour with enriched flour, rather than switching directly to whole grains. If you start with just one third of the flour as whole grain flour, and slowly increase the amount over time, usually no one will notice the change. It takes time for their tastes to change, so go very gradually and fix healthier versions of their favorites.
  • Keep healthy snacks on hand and accessible: bowls of fruit within reach, raw nuts, dried fruit, homemade muffins, Larabars, etc…
  • Visit a farm or farmer’s market: Children will enjoy vegetables more if they are homegrown and fresh from the garden. Quality makes all the difference and kids can taste it.
  • Switch to raw honey, stevia or agave: If children are resistant to eating vegetables, you can drizzle a bit of raw honey over them until they grow accustomed to eating them. (Children under 1 year of age should not consume raw honey)
  • Involve your child: Let them help you shop for healthy foods. Let them choose some items from a health food store. This gives them more control over the changes that are being made to their diet. Let them get involved in the mealtime preparations. Make it a fun family time!
  • Add vegetables: to soups, meat dishes, and other meals. Children need to eat vegetables, so you can add grated carrots and zucchini to spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, etc… They can even be pureed and added to baked goods. You could make green smoothies: Blend some of their favorite fruit with a handful of spinach, put it onto an opaque cup and serve with a straw. If you add blackberries or blueberries to it, it will turn purple and they won’t be able to tell the greens are in it. You can also make them into popsicles. When I make a morning green smoothie for me or my husband, I will pour the rest into popsicle molds for my daughter’s after school snack. It is an easy, healthy snack and she loves it!
  • Try the “one bite to be polite” rule: If your child refuses to try the food you have prepared, use this rule and have them eat just one bite. After a bite, he may decide that he likes it and will eat more, or at least tolerate it without complaining. When this happens, thank him for eating it. As taste buds change and adapt, they might find that they begin to eat these foods. But if they truly dislike the food, acknowledge their effort and do not force them to eat the food. Allow them to eat something else in the meal that you prepared. The “one bite to be polite” lesson will also teach children to show love and respect to the person who has prepared the meal.
  • Don’t make another separate meal for your children: Allow children to pick and choose what they would like to eat from what you have made. If a food is not liked by their taste buds, it may change over time. Have them try it again in a few weeks to see if they like it.
  • Avoid being too restrictive: While we shouldn’t let our children eat whatever they want all the time, we shouldn’t be too restrictive either. We can control what they eat for a short time during their lives, but eventually they will be exposed to unhealthy foods. A parent’s attitude about food can affect what kids will do when they grow up. If you are feeding them foods with high nutritional value most of the time, you can allow occasional treats without worry (such as one or two times a month).
  • Go beyond, “Because it’s good for you” comments: It is not helpful to put “good” and “bad” labels on foods. Get specific when you talk about what the foods do for your health, for example, “white bread zaps energy from our bodies”, “sugar can cause cavities and damage our teeth”, “fish makes us smart”, “spinach makes us strong” or “this food makes us healthy and strong but this food makes us get sick”.
  • Plant a garden: As children learn how plants grow, they will be more inclined to eat the food they so carefully tended. And of course, it will taste so much better too!
  • Make food fun! Get creative. One parent told me that she would put various cut up vegetables on a plate and let her children get creative and make shapes or animals with them, with understanding that they would have to eat what they made. What a great idea!

Remember, you must set the example. You cannot expect your children to change their eating habits if you are not eating a healthy diet. Believe me, they watch what you do more than what you say.

One last word of advice: Don’t make it a battle. Remember, food is what gives us our nourishment. The most healthy meal eaten with hostility is counterproductive to health. Meals are meant to be shared with love and fellowship with those we care about. Do not let food bring division into your family. Those relationships are just as important to your health and well-being as the food you prepare.

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Becky Mauldin, N.D. is the owner of Pure Vitality, a business that helps people transform their health. She has authored two gluten-free cookbooks, Vibrant Health and Recipes for Life. Her story of recovery from an incurable illness has inspired many people around the world. She specializes in finding real solutions for health problems, and is known for making a healthy diet achievable for real people and real life.

Photo Credit: hoyasmeg

 

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2 Responses to “How to Get Your Kids to Give Up Junk and Eat Healthy Food”

  1. Amber says:

    Amazing post! Great advice for parents wanting to move into healthier eating habits. I didn’t grow up in a health-conscious home and so I make it my mission to provide a healthy, nourishing and educational beginning for my children regarding food and health.

    I felt validated in a strange way after reading this post – and not like a total odd-ball for not allowing my children to eat candy, refined sugar, and processed food. We are not the norm with our eating habits, so it’s nice to read this list – like a friendly reminder. Some of the tips I love from above are cooking with kids (can’t agree with this more), not making a separate meal, and discussing how food affects our bodies.

    Change isn’t easy, but it can happen with small, committed, meaningful steps.

    Thanks for sharing this great information!

    Be Well,
    –Amber

    P.S. And I can attest to how wonderful it is to garden with children. My kids will literally eat the vegetables right from the dirt – they love it. It’s totally exciting and so fun for them. Gardening is seriously magical with kids!! Two big thumbs up for this one!!

    • Nancy says:

      I loved this post too Amber! I need to work on teaching my kids why certain foods are good for you and why junk food is bad for you. I’ve been working on it since she sent me the article a couple of weeks ago and I can already tell a difference in my kids attitude.

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