Have you ever wondered, "How am I going to get my child to eat healthy foods?" If you have ever asked yourself this question you might be surprised that YOU are the answer. Children want to eat what they see you eating. I can’t tell you how many times parents sit in my office and tell me how they feed their children the best quality food that they can afford and they buy lesser quality food for themselves. While I think it is wonderful that you want the healthiest food for your children, if you don’t eat healthy food they won’t either. Children model everything that their parents do, so the best way to get your children to eat healthy is to for you to eat healthy all the time. They watch what you do and have the curiosity to mimic all your behaviors. If you are a healthy weight your child is more likely to be a healthy weight because they are following your lead on what and how much you eat. If you are exercising and running around the playground they are more likely to value exercise too. So putting organic peaches in front of them while you eat potato chips will not make them want to eat peaches.
Eating healthy is more than just eating organic pasta. It is also being able to eat many different tastes of food. People generally eat the same 20 items of foods over and over again. This is a very limited amount of food. If a child is comfortable eating different flavors, it helps prevent imbalances or deficiencies in their diet. Since meals tend to be a family activity, the more adventurous you are about trying a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and lean meats, the more likely your children will develop a liking for a wide range of foods.
Try creating a chart of new foods and give your child a gold star every time they try a new food or an old food that is prepared in a new way. Once they get a certain number of stars give them a treat – allow them to pick the next family outing or movie you all will watch. It encourages them to engage in this new activity with you. You engage by trying the food too. If they don’t like it, no problem talk about why. It is a great way to expand their food options and their taste buds too.
Dr. Daemon Jones
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