From chicken bites and French fries to macaroni and cheese, kids are consuming far too much processed food, sugar, fat, preservatives, and other negative ingredients on a regular basis.
Growing bodies need high nutrient, high fiber, low fat foods! The US government recommends kids get 8-13 servings a day of fresh fruits and vegetables. This amount really is defficient and most kids are getting less than 2 servings a day which includes unhealthy foods like french fries, ketchup, and canned fruit.
Improving children's dietary habits takes planning and time. Below are some suggestions I recommend to clients in my Wellness Coaching practice:
1. Start babies off right with breast milk. Breast milk is biologically designed for infants, formula is not. Most formula is made of refined oils, cow's milk and vitamins. Cow's milk has been linked to juvinile diabetes, eczema, asthma, and allergies. Furthermore, there is not a long term study that shows man made vitamins create long term health. Vitamins in their natural food form are better absorbed through breast milk. Don't make excuses, get educated and invest some time with a lactation consultant early on to ensure breast feeding success.
2. Get kids involved in the kitchen early on! Let them help shuck corn, peel garlic and wash fruits and vegetables. Kids are more apt to eat the foods they help prepare. Talk to them about the nutritional value of what you are preparing and allw them to help measure spices and pour.
3. Understand how to read ingredient labels and teach your children to read them too! Avoid negative ingredients like partially hydrogenated oil, refined oils, refined sugars, organic sugar, artificial sweeteners, iodized salt, MSG, Casein, High Fructose Corn Syrup, BHT and other preservatives, artificial colors and flavors.
4. You are the boss when it comes to feeding your child. If they are left to decide what to eat, you can be assured they will not make healthy choices unless they only have healthy choices available to choose from.
5. Make a distinction between what is food and what is a treat. Treats come in packages and are made in factories or ovens at home. Whole foods come packaged by nature and require no special preparation.
6. Grow a small garden in your backyard or make a container garden on your patio or porch. Have your child participate in putting the soil together and planting the seeds. When kids are involved in the cultivation of their food they look forward to enjoying those foods in their meals.
7. Read books to young children that reinforce consuming fruits and vegetables.
8. Take your child on field trips to nearby farmer's markets and organic farms. U pick farms are also a great way to get kids interested in eating more fruit.
9. Join an organic food buying cooperative and have your child help you work at the cooperative occasionally. Kids are good at weighing produce and packing bags with adult supervision.
10. Involve your child in the meal planning process. Allow them to look through cookbooks with photos or search on the various healthy food websites like fatfreevegan.com. Have them pick out what things on your list they want to help you find at the store and make them a separate list to shop from. Reinforce that you are only shopping from the list, no extras unless it is a healthy fruit or vegetable.
11. Always serve a fruit salad at the beginning of each meal and a lettuce and vegetable salad at dinner time. Or, make a smoothie with raw spinach and fruits using a high power blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec. This is an excellent way to get more raw fresh fruits and vegetables into your child's diet.
Make your child's dietary habits a priority! We want the best for our kids, but feeding our kids right has somehow become less important than sending them to the right school, involving them in after school sports and activities, and providing them with the latest gadgets.
Slow down and make time for healthy eating for your entire family. Start today by implementing some of my suggestions and posting some of your own tips in the forum.