Raising healthy kids: How to win the healthy food fight with kids

When we feed our kids puffballs of sugar for breakfast and neon-coloured ice cream for dessert, we can’t expect them to happily munch away on broccoli. Their brain's pleasure centres are not really lighting up at the thought of green juice if they have the option of orange pop. Unless, of course, we train them to make healthy choices on their own, and for their own good.

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Photo: Rebecca Marchildon

One of our biggest dilemmas as parents is getting our children to consume a nutritious diet. I hear it all the time: “That’s all they’ll eat!”

I think an important thing to remember is that these kids can’t eat what isn’t available to them. This applies to younger children of course, but if we start them off with the information they need to put their health first, we are setting them up for success. So many kids today grow up with food-related health issues and diseases, it’s our duty to give them the best start we can.

When we feed our kids puffballs of sugar for breakfast and neon-coloured ice cream for dessert, we can’t expect them to happily munch away on broccoli. Their brain’s pleasure centres are not really lighting up at the thought of green juice if they have the option of orange pop. Unless, of course, we train them to make healthy choices on their own, and for their own good.

Getting it right in the grocery market. Photo: Rebecca Marchildon

As a former picky eater myself, I can definitely relate to these little people! I believe the main reason for my problem as a child, was that I could basically eat all the junk food that I wanted, which manipulated and hijacked my developing taste buds. I ate a lot of sugar, a substance that is eight times more addictive than cocaine. Some people consider it mean to deprive a kid of candy, but we must realize how absurd this thought is. Candy and processed sugar are toxic and of no benefit to our babies.

When children are offered only a selection of healthy options, they will choose from these options. They will choose to eat over starvation. They can’t eat Kraft Dinner if they aren’t served Kraft Dinner. As parents, it’s our responsibility to teach our kids the difference between food made with love, and food made with greed. And, in my opinion, the explanation is most of the battle. Once they understand that they have a responsibility to their body, and that no one else will take care of it for them, they will make intelligent choices.

There’s a great quote by Wendell Berry, “People are fed by the Food Industry, which pays no attention to heath, and are treated by the Heath Industry, which pays no attention to food.”

We are in charge of our own health, and in a world full of temptation, this is a crucial thing to remember.

There will be things that your children just won’t like, for instance, I hated tomatoes and mushrooms as a child, but I loved spinach. My parents would always bug me about eating the foods I didn’t like instead of feeding me the nutritious ones that I loved. There is a dietary theory called “crowding out” which focuses on eating all the wonderful and healthy foods we love, instead of focusing only on removing the bad and addictive stuff from your diet. So instead of feeling deprived and unfulfilled, causing yourself unhealthy cravings, you end up nutritionally complete, full of goodness and vitamins, which deters the bad cravings. Over time, you ‘crowd out’ the bad with the good, and this is a really great way to transition your kids.

Including your children in the preparation of food is an awesome way to teach them about what they’re putting into their bodies. They might want to grow a little garden or even a few herbs in your kitchen. Watching our food grow from tiny seeds into big edible plants is fascinating to us all. Kids also love making smoothies, and it’s easy for them to participate. There are so many fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds and spices you can add to make the most delicious smoothies!

Making ‘Glory Bowls’ for lunch or dinner is a wonderful way to give them options, they can decide on their own which vegetables and toppings they’d like to add to their meals. Almost like a salad bar! Plus, you’re giving them the power of choice, which is key in this venture. Making decisions will be empowering and help your kids feel good about themselves.

If you feel uninspired at mealtime, pick up one of the amazing cookbooks carried at Mountain Goodness. Look through the colourful pages with your children and pick out something delicious together. A healthy diet doesn’t mean you can’t have dessert — it just means it will be made with real food. These cookbooks are filled with some incredible treats!

 

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Rebecca Marchildon is a mother of two who is passionate about health, fitness and family! She studied Journalism Print, Group Fitness Instruction and is currently training to be a Health Coach through Integrative Nutrition. She’s the owner of Revelution Fitness & Yoga and eager to share her passion with fellow Revelstokians!