Holly Easterby strongly recommends feeding kids with healthier foods for better overall development. She gives parental tips at Bonza Brats and in blogs like this one. In this article, she shares how to get kids to eat their veggies.

Having a hard time making your kids eat their vegetable and fruits? Well, would it comfort you to know that you are not the only one who’s having a hard time feeding their kids with these? Yes, many parents argue with their kids regarding their food choices. If you have tried telling your child not to be let off the table until all of his green vegetables are gone from his plate and this is not working at all, maybe it’s time to change your tactics. Why not try the tips listed below?

Enforce the taste first rule. You have house rules. So why not make table dinner rules too? Impose that kids need to taste the food on the table first before they are allowed to refuse anything. This should be done at least three times for a particular type of dish. This will help them get used to its taste and will be more amenable to eat this the next time they see this on the dining table.

Don’t let them know about it. If it’s really difficult for you to feed your child with vegetables, it’s okay not to tell them about it. One of the ways to do this is by incorporating these in their drinks. Get a juicer and mix this with their favorite fruits. Another method you can use is to include this in baked goodies. Remember the pulp from the juicer? Don’t throw this away. You can mix this with cakes, muffins or burger patties.

Make their dinner look fun. Getting crafty with meals is also another way to make kids eat vegetables. Who is your kid’s favorite cartoon character? You can make use of this as your pattern. If your creative ability will only allow you to make Smiley with eggs and pepper, time to put that computer to good use. YouTube offers a vast number of bento recipes that will teach you how to arrange your kid’s lunch box into virtually almost anything.

Don’t turn mealtime into a fight. When kids think of dinnertime, they should be able to associate this with positive feelings. One of the easiest ways to ruin dinner is by forcing your kids to eat their vegetables. When they don’t like to eat these, bite your mouth. Fighting over it will only enhance their dislike for veggies.

Eat them first. If your kids rarely or never see you eat your greens, do you honestly think they’ll just grab a bite of the ones on their plate just because you told them to do so? It’s easier to ask your kids to do something if they see you do it too. If you want them to take a bite, then show the how it’s supposed to be done. To make it look yummy, why not follow this up with, “It’s very delicious!”

Grow a garden together. Organic food for children offers the added benefit of these being free from unwanted chemicals. And when they grow their own vegetables and fruits, kids will be more inclined to try their own produce. So free your afternoons and get planting seasonal vegetables together.

Turn them into their own chefs. If you do not have a backyard that you can use to grow a vegetable garden, there are other activities that could help encourage kids to eat green veggies. Tag them along when shopping for these and name it “the ultimate nutritious shopping experience”. Ask them to pick the healthiest vegetable they could find and then teach them the best way to cook this too.

Make it a habit to combine. Steamed or raw vegetables are healthy. But kids have different taste preference and most would choose fried chicken or pork any time of the day. Instead of serving a certain vegetable on its own, incorporate this with meat ingredients. There are many meat plus vegetable recipes that you can find online. Why not try soups? Or go Asian and cook up a delicious meat and vegetable stir-fry recipe?

Serve only delicious vegetables at first. Make their first taste of vegetables something really nice. It does not have to be the usual meals you would normally eat as an adult or go solo on their plate. Serve it as a pizza or pancake. Instead of letting them eat vegetables with very strong tastes, choose those that are sweet like squash or one that has a mild taste. Fried zucchini coated with seasoned flour tastes really nice and will taste heavenly too in a pizza recipe.

Ditch junk foods. Make it a practice early to feed your kids only with healthy snacks. Junk food like French fries and potato chips taste good. And when you make it a habit to feed your kids mostly with these, it will be difficult to feed them with healthier foods like vegetables later on. For snacks, go for fresh fruits instead. Or make your own healthy treats made of these ingredients.

Give the recipe an interesting name. One of the best qualities of kids? They love to play and can be very trusting. Use this to your advantage. Name your veggie recipes into superhero meals if they are boys or make a princess veggie menu for your small girl.

Offer variation. Even if you consider this your most delicious vegetable recipe to date, eating it day in and day out will eventually make you succumb to one of the laws in economics- the law of diminishing marginal utility. The satisfaction you get from consuming a certain good will not yield the same satisfaction you felt for it when you first tried it. Plan daily meals and make it a point to use different vegetables.

 Conclusion

The key to healthier kids is feeding them with great food options. These should include a balanced diet consisting of meat, vegetables, fruits, and carbohydrates. Making kids eat vegetables may not come easy especially for picky eaters. Be patient. Some kids do adjust to these easily while others take a while getting used to their green stuff.

Author: Holly Easterby

Holly’s love for children has seen her featured in many education and children websites, whether talking about healthy snacks, motivating students or children’s fashion at Bonza Brats. Holly loves reading books, and shopping is her way of spending time with her young family. If you would like to catch her, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @HollyEasterby

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playland-littlestomaks-how-to-encourage-play-and-exercise[4]

Keeping kids active is becoming more of a challenge as technology advances. The lure of HDTVs, video games and tablets are distracting our children from getting out and being active, and as parents we need to be proactive. There are many other reasons daily exercise can be difficult, such as school events and extracurricular activities, but you must make play and exercise a priority.

If strong muscles and bones aren’t enough motivation, consider the weight control benefits. Studies show that play and exercise can significantly decrease the risk of a child developing type 2 diabetes. All of this healthy activity will pay off immediately and also build a foundation for a lifetime of health and fitness.

Are you looking for suggestions on how to encourage your child to exercise? Here are eight ways to get your child off the couch and stay interested and challenged with play and exercise:

Schedule Time for Play

If your child has a busy schedule full of music lessons, after-school programs and homework, finding time for play may be harder than you think. However, a busy schedule is no excuse to be unfit. Be sure to schedule at least an hour of play per day and even more on the weekend.

Limit TV and Computer Time

Video games, television shows and computers fascinate many children, but it’s important to keep this idle time to a minimum. The startling graphics and sounds captivate young minds, so it is important for the adults to unplug them from this electronic stimulus and get them up and active.

Provide Active Toys

It’s no secret children love playing with toys. Toys for both indoor and outdoor play have been around for decades and the industry continues to create new and fun ways for kids to get exercise while playing. Whether it’s chasing each other around with water guns, kicking around a ball or doing gymnastics on a tumbling mat, there are hundreds of active toys to provide outdoor and indoor exercise.

Set an Example

Children who see their parents being active and enjoying it are far more likely to be active as well. It is common knowledge that most kids pattern themselves off the behavior of their parents. Do them a favor and set a positive example by being a fitness role model.

Join the Fun

Nothing will motivate your child more than Mom or Dad being their playmate. Even if you just throw a ball around or play tag, your children want to spend time with you, and when you play with them they won’t even view it as planned exercise.

Include Friends and Neighbors

Joining local playgroups of friends and neighbors will give your child a chance to socialize and exercise all at once. Weekend trips to the park can be supplemented by rotating play dates during the week. Adults often find playgroups useful because they can meet other parents, share parenting ideas and divide babysitting duties.

Assign Chores Regularly

Chores may be a useful tool for teaching responsibility but they can also be a form of exercise. Helping to rake the leaves, wash the car and clean around the house will keep them physically active while learning the meaning of hard work. This is another clever way to disguise exercise.

Give Positive Feedback 

Few things are more powerful than the encouraging words of a parent. A parent’s praise style has a direct effect on how the child will handle both challenges and failure, so positive reinforcement has many benefits. “Process praise”—praising a child’s efforts and actions—can do wonders for their self esteem and motivate your child to play more and enjoy doing it.

 About the author:

David Reeves is Marketing Manager of Playland Inc. in Carrollton, GA. Playland Inc., is a total solutions manufacturer and supplier to many industries, supplying outdoor play equipment to churches, schools, and day care centers. It has developed into the only company in its field to offer direct to all of its customers, the ability to purchase outdoor playgrounds, shelters, shade, indoor playgrounds, water slides and site amenities.

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This is guest post by Marcela De Vivo, a freelance writer in the Los Angeles area who works with NorthWest and writes on a variety of subjects such as health and nutrition. As a mother of three she enjoys sharing her tips on how to get children to eat more nutritious meals everyday.

Children are hesitant to try new foods by their very nature. Many are “picky” eaters, but not for the reasons one might think. Use the tips below to ensure your picky child gets the nutrition they need.

Respect Your Child’s Appetite

Your child may simply be not hungry. Chances are unless they are severely underweight and/or have not eaten in days that eventually their appetite will catch up with them and they will want to devour everything you put in front of them.

Respect their appetite by allowing them not to finish all the food on their plate if they have eaten a “sufficient” amount. This is the point where you need to decide to choose your battles since you know how much nutrition they have gotten in the past couple of days.

Show Your Child What To Do

Believe it or not, some very young children won’t eat the food you put in front of them because they literally don’t know what to do with it. Sit down with your child and show them how to bite and chew more complicated things like carrot sticks.

In a pinch at snack time, feed your child easy foods to get down such a yogurt, which can be slurped down without chewing –while still packing a good amount of calcium and other nutrients.

Teach Them to Cooperate

Children will test your patience to see where the limit of what they can get away with is. If they throw a tantrum and you give up, allowing them to leave the table, chances are this behavior will be repeated.

Make things easier by simultaneously  introducing new foods you want them to eat with old ones, you may be able to combat this struggle. Children are more inclined to accept new foods if they are “hidden,” so to speak, with their already-favorites.

Make It Fun

If you fight with your child at the dinner table about eating and drinking, they may start to associate eating time with being upset and anxious. This obviously does not create a good base platform for helping them obtain the vitamins and minerals they need.

Instead of forcing them to finish their meals, excuse them from the table –only allowing them to eat at their next scheduled meal time. This also teaches them that they will be hungry if they aren’t eating at proper meal times.

Quick tip: Arrange your child’s food in an exciting way to help them really get excited about eating!

Stick To Routine

It is important that even if your child begs for chips in between meal times after they have not eaten that you do not give in. Offer them healthy fruit and vegetable snack options, or tell them they will have to wait until the next meal time to eat again.

Include Your Child

Your child will begin to develop their own tastes as they age and with that you should allow them to make their only healthy choices. Make it a habit of not buying anything you don’t want your children to eat –even if it’s for yourself. Your children will follow your example.

Let them pick 2-3 things at the grocery store every time you go as an exciting way to include them, helping them to make independent food choices –a valuable skill they will need in the future.

Eliminate distractions

Television, iPads and other technological devices will most likely win your child’s attention at the dinner table. Make it a habit to turn all these things off and put them away before sitting down at the table. Your child will learn that this is protocol and become used to following these directions.

 

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KristiWinkels2

Kristi Winkels, RD

  • Education: B.S. University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • Founder, Eating With Food Allergies.com
  • Specialty: Food allergies and intolerance
  • Twitter: @KristiWinkelsRD
  • Facebook: Kristi Winkels
  • Website: Eating with Food Allergies
  • LinkedIn Profile
  • Contact via http://www.eatingwithfoodallergies.com/contact.html

Question: We know that my son has major food allergies which include nuts. How do you decide which one to ignore?

Answer:

Knowing which nuts to avoid can be a challenge. First, it is important to distinguish between “nuts”. People often put peanuts and tree nuts in the same category when actually, peanuts and tree nuts are in two separate allergen categories. This is because peanuts are technically legumes, not nuts. It is possible for a person to have a tree nut allergy but still tolerate peanuts and vice versa.

To make things even more complicated, an allergy to one type of tree nut does not necessarily mean an allergy to all types of tree nuts. You can review the list of tree nuts on my website.

Determining which nuts to avoid can be done in a few ways. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), food allergies are most often diagnosed by history. Your child may have eaten something and had symptoms of an allergic reaction shortly after. Taking note of all of the foods that might have been responsible for this reaction is an important part of diagnosis. In children especially, the culprit is often a “new” food, but could also be something that has been eaten with no symptoms in the past.

Once you suspect a food (or foods), the next step is to be tested for an allergy to the food(s). An allergist or immunologist is best qualified to do testing which can include skin prick testing or a blood test. Using your child’s history helps the allergist determine what allergens should be tested. Specific tree nuts can be tested which would help your allergist to determine which tree nuts your child should avoid.

Allergists will often recommend avoiding all tree nuts because of the high risk of cross contamination between the various types of nuts during processing and packaging. It is important to ask your allergist for a recommendation specific to your child. This will likely be based on history and allergy testing done and will be individualized for your child.

Luckily, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 states that foods containing the top 8 allergens must identify those allergens on the label (this includes peanuts and tree nuts). The type of tree nut must be specified on the label making it easier for those avoiding specific tree nuts.

The labeling law, however, does not require labels to include advisory statements such as “May contain traces of tree nuts”. If you’re concerned about cross-contamination, it is best to contact the company to be sure.

References:

  1. US FDA food allergen labeling
  2. Eating with Food Allergies: tree nuts allergy
  3. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: food allergy tips

©2013 Littlestomaks.com. All Rights Reserved

Disclaimer – Information provided in Ask The Expert column on Littlestomaks.com is intended to give you general guidance on a question related to toddler nutrition. It is not meant to be treated as medical advice. You are welcome to contact this expert for a detailed consultation on your specific situation to determine what actions, if any, you should take regarding nutrition and health of your toddlers. We do not recommend you to take any action based solely on the information presented in this column. Experts have agreed to provide their professional opinion on toddler nutrition related questions on a voluntary basis and no compensation is offered to them by Littlestomaks.com.

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More than half of the United States is in a severe draught and there is no sign of relief. I was shocked to see this image of a midwest corn field and wondered how the framers must be feeling these days. Anyway, what caught my eye was the news that food prices were expected to rise because of the draught across our nation’s breadbasket. With the economy still depressed, I wonder how much additional stress this is going to cause on a family’s food budget.

It is important to note that the draught is mostly impacting corn production, which is a staple for processed foods and animal feed. Not saying it is good at all, but this is expected to result in beef prices going up by 4-5% with slightly lower increase for pork, eggs and dairy products.

I think we can use this information to our advantage to combat the expected rise in food prices. Similar to the ideas I wrote about in my post 5 ways to by organic on a budget, here are some ideas for you to consider.

Cut down on processed food and snacks

Corn ends up in nearly all processed foods and snacks. If corn supply is reduced, you can bet the prices of processed foods and snacks will also go up. Even if you don’t see the actual price of the product go up, one way manufacturers will pass on the cost is by reducing the amount you get in the box. Either way, you will end up paying more for these products. You can save quite a lot of money by cutting down on these processed foods. Here is some expert advice on how to move from excessive snacking to healthy foods!

Cut down on animal products and frozen foods

Corn goes into animal feed, which is why beef prices are expected to rise. Even though, the average price is expected to go up by only 4-5%, it can put a big dent in your weekly food bill. Unless you go for grass-fed beef, which happens to be expensive anyway, you will feel the effect of this price increase if you are used to beef and beef products on a weekly basis. Sure no summer barbecue is complete without a juicy hamburger, but cutting down on beef in this situation will not only help your pocket book but also help you cut down on saturated fats and cholesterol. As for frozen foods, they tend to be more expensive because of the processing, transportation and energy costs. Plus they usually have a lot of sodium. Cutting down on these foods is also a good way of saving money and improving your health. Frozen vegetables don’t fall in this category unless they are processed in a sauce.

Try vegetarian sources of protein

You might think that cutting down on beef and animal products will cut down on your family’s protein intake. In general, a typical American diet is already quite rich in protein due to heavy use of dairy products and protein-rich processed foods. However, if you are concerned, you could consider a variety of vegetarian sources of protein such as beans, lentils, quinoa, tofu/soy products, nuts (unless there is an allergy issue). Here are 5 sources of vegetarian proteins you can try.

 Buy fresh and prepare meals at home

It may seem like fresh produce costs more at the supermarket, but the overall cost of a home cooked meal is still lower than processed food or eating out. Family meals are a powerful way to raise a healthy eater at home, which is not only good for nutrition but also strengthening your family ties. Check out the recipe section for ideas on simple, kid-friendly recipes! Want to make it more fun? Get your kids to help out!! Here are tips from the USDA for smart shopping of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Buy in bulk

If these ideas require you to make a big change in your lifestyle, you can try to reduce the impact of high food prices by buying in bulk at a Costco or Sam’s Club. Keep in mind though that sooner or later, even they will have to increase prices or raise their membership fee to pass on the extra cost. We try to use these discount stores for household supplies not for food products.

 

Bottom line – the processed food industry is going to be most impacted by the shortage in corn supply due to the draught. If you reduce your consumption of processed foods, you can easily avoid this situation!

photo by: bionicteaching

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I didn’t believe it either when I read an article recently about arsenic in rice. Yet it seems to be true, which is quite a concern for us because we eat rice almost every day. Many of the popular snacks for kids contain rice. Rice cereal is typically the first solid food given to babies. Some toddler formula, claiming to be organic, contain Organic Brown Rice Syrup (ORBS). Bottom line, rice is very common in both adult and baby foods which makes the issue of arsenic in rice a big concern for parents.

No wonder there was quite a coverage in the news media early this year when a study was published by researchers at Dartmouth which showed high amounts of inorganic arsenic (the bad kind) in formula and food products containing ORBS. Sure it made big news and caused a lot of anxiety for a while. Even Dr. Oz demonized apple juice to make a point about arsenic in a common foods!

But then, like always, the media moved on to other more alarming news. Meanwhile, parents were left without any solid guidance wondering if they were inadvertently poisoning their kids. Turns out, even the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) does not have any guidance on the allowable level of arsenic in foods although the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has established a limit of 10 parts per billion in drinking water (which means that 1 L of drinking water cannot have more than 10 micrograms).

So what should a parent do? Here are a few suggestions:

Know the Facts

Arsenic is a common element in the soil, which means it can find its way into foods. The question is not if arsenic is present in the food supply, but how much of it is safe. There are toxic chemicals in everything we encounter, some naturally present, some because of industrial pollution. What we need is to know what chemicals are present and limit them to a safe level. In case of arsenic in food, such a level has not been established – but there is no reason to believe that our food is contaminated to such a high level that it poses a very high risk to our health.

Rice has been found to have the highest level of inorganic arsenic. There are several reasons for this – rice is grown in standing water, which may have been contaminated with arsenic. This situation exists in Bangladesh where very high levels of arsenic have been detected in well water. Arsenic containing pesticides are another source of arsenic contamination in soil and water. This situation exists in many areas in the southern US states such as Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, where rice is grown on fields previously used for cotton when arsenic based pesticides were common. Rice from California, on the other hand, has lower levels of arsenic.

Second reason why rice contains high levels of arsenic is because the rice plant, even if grown organically, absorbs arsenic from the soil very well. Turns out that arsenic is very similar to silicon, another element that the rice plant is very good at soaking up. If the soil and water in which rice is grown contains arsenic, then it will readily end up in the grain.

Minimize Consumption and Check the Source

I am not suggesting you give up on rice or rice containing foods completely. But keep it under control – like everything else, you need to consume these foods in moderation. How much is safe depends on the body weight – for adults, normal consumption of rice should be a couple of servings a day, not more than 100 g or so. According to recent estimates, people who eat more than 115 g of high arsenic rice (produced in southern US for example) can exceed the EPA drinking water limit.

It is even more of an issue for children because of their body weight. Limit the amount of foods from sources suspected of having harmful chemicals – this rule applies to everything, not just arsenic.

As I wrote before, it is important to check where the rice was produced. It is easier said than done, because this information is nearly impossible to find for processed foods. Basmati rice is considered to be a safe choice, although it is important to keep an eye on where it is coming from.

Consumer reports recently published data on arsenic in several brands of apple juice.

Watch for Latest Developments

Even though, there is no guidance from the FDA on safe arsenic levels, they seem to be working on it. FDA claims to routinely monitor arsenic in apple juice and now they have expanded the program to arsenic in rice and rice based foods. A study is expected to come out this year.

Bottom line – be informed, read the labels, check the source and consume in moderation.

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When I Grow Up

by Naveen Agarwal

in Having Fun

Recently, my 5 year old son came up to me and announced his desire to become a train engineer when he grew up! Everyone in the family, by now, is aware of his fascination with trains, which consumes him every minute of the day. But this was taking it a little too far, I thought to myself. No doubt, train engineers do important work, but their profession is not generally considered to be at the top of the list. Such lack of ambition bothered me a little at first.

What happened next was an interesting turn of events through the day which took me on an emotional roller-coaster ride. I share this experience in an article on whattoexpect.com and I invite you all to check it out.

Here is the link to When I Grow Up. Share your thoughts and feelings in a comment below.

©2011 Littlestomaks.com

 

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Exciting news everyone! After a lot of work over the last few months, our vitamin D calculator app for iPhone and iPad is finally live on Apple’s iTunes app store. It is a really cool app which allows you to easily estimate the daily intake of vitamin D from foods, multivitamins and casual sun exposure. It also connects you to a vitamin D calculator page on Facebook and Twitter.

Click on the link below for a free download! Don’t forget to rate and write a review.

Vitamin D Calculator - Naveen Agarwal

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This is a guest post by Amanda Kidd. By profession, she is a writer and internet marketer . She is a health buff and a strict follower of a healthy lifestyle. Her health guide specifically includes healthy food to maintain physical and mental health. She also helps parents with her write up regarding health problems in children.

It has often been seen that kids are very fussy about food. They usually prefer junk food that does not have any nutrition. They fail to understand that proper nutrition is very essential for their overall development. It is the parents’ responsibility to teach them healthy food habits. If kids consume nutritious food right from the beginning, they will obviously grow up to become healthier human beings.

One main reason for the children to opt for junk is that they feel it is tastier and looks attractive as well as delicious. Today, fast food centers are coming up with smart ideas to prepare and serve their junk food. We often find food being served in pretty boxes with cute toys, different colors, funny shapes and mouth-watering smell. All this is sure to attract these kids who do not understand that the delicious-looking food actually lacks all the nutrition.

In such circumstances, parents should come forward to help their kids in developing good eating habits. Kids often have the misconception that healthy food is boring. This is not true. Nutritious food can also be turned into tasty and interesting preparation.

Kids often like to add some fun to their food, so why not be a little creative and turn your daily food into something funny that would attract the kids toward the dining table? It is generally seen that all kids love finger foods, different types of dips and scoops, different sauces and toppings, colorful frosting and fillings, unique shapes and foods that they can easily have on the go. All these features can even be added to nutritious homemade food.

So, do not worry about how you will convince your kids to have healthy food daily. Modify your food and add the fun factor to it and see your kids grab it. Some of the ideas that can help your kids eat nutritious food are:

  1. Give them breads and biscuits made of whole grain. Try and find biscuits with interesting shapes. You can also cut them at home to give them funny shapes.
  2. If your kid loves dips, you can prepare healthy dips at home with the help of yoghurt, cheese and fruits. These will look good and taste awesome.
  3. Make healthy vegetable sandwiches with onions, cucumbers, tomatoes or any other vegetable that your kids like.
    Instead of making a simple round pancake, try being creative and give different shapes to the pancakes and offer it to your kids in the breakfast.
  4. You can also make tasty fruit salads by mixing different kinds of colorful fruits. Kids often love berries so you can encourage them to eat strawberries, blueberries or any other berry of their choice.
  5. If they really want to have pizza, prepare one at home. Use whole grain and add the toppings of their choice to make their personal pizza.
  6. Another idea to make them eat good food is to involve them while shopping for vegetables, cooking or serving. Let them take the decision.
  7. They will love it. It has always been seen that the kids who love cooking often enjoy eating.
  8. A lot of whole grain pasta and noodles are available in the market. You can prepare them with lots of sauce and vegetables. Kids will love it.
  9. You can also prepare smoothies with fruits, yoghurt or milk. It is very tasty as well nutritious.
  10. Encourage them to snack on some healthy nuts, popcorn, salads or fruits. Also, make them develop the habit of drinking lots of water.

Try these ideas and watch your kids developing healthy eating habits. Eating good food is very essential. These days, as most of the parents are working, they have very little time to think about the food their kids are eating. The ideas given above are simple and easy to follow. They are good for your kids and make them enjoy whatever they eat.

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This is a guest post by Allison Gamble, who has been a curious student of psychology since high school. She brings her understanding of the mind to work in the weird world of internet marketing, and is still trying to teach herself not to clean her plate.

Human Snowman
Creative Commons License photo credit: left-hand

Food and nutrition are difficult subjects for adults, and even more so for kids. A child’s taste preferences are influenced by outside sources almost from birth, so it doesn’t take a psychology degree to realize that it’s necessary for parents to guide them in making healthy food choices.

Clearly, your kids don’t think about nutrition the way you do, so you need to look at things from their perspective in order to avoid common pitfalls in the emotional realm of food and eating.

Kids and Healthy Eating Habits

Kids begin to develop preferences for food at a very young age. If you want your kids to grow up eating a variety of foods, aim to give them a number of options as these preferences develop. As they get older, encourage them to choose different kinds of healthful, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Even if you make many wholesome foods available, chances are your kids will want something sweet from time to time. Instead of slapping a label of “bad” or “unhealthy” on desserts and treats that will turn these foods into guilty pleasures, allow your children to eat them in reasonable portions. If they ask why they can’t have more, use their questions as an opportunity to talk about how different foods affect the body. Your kids will probably notice that they feel better after eating fruits and vegetables than after candy or cake, and helping them to understand why goes a long way towards giving them the tools to make good food choices in the future.

Above all, be a positive role model for your kids. If you’re constantly hung up on calories, fat content, carbs or weight, your kids will be too. Remember that kids are extremely observant and will often do what they see you doing, regardless of what you say.

The Many Faces of Food

For kids and adults alike, food is more than just physical nourishment. Advertisers work hard to target kids by using specific situations, emotions, and ideas to convince youngsters that eating a certain food will yield a positive result. Unfortunately, parents can be just as much at fault when it comes to attaching emotion to food. Saying things like, “You can’t have cake until you finish your vegetables,” or “If you’re good today, we’ll go get ice cream,” sets kids up to think of food in terms of reward or punishment instead of health and nutrition.

Odds are, your kids know how to listen to their bodies much better than you do. Young children haven’t yet been exposed to societal pressures that make adults fixate on food choices. Kids naturally eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full, an instinct that’s important to honor. Forcing kids to clean their plates when they’re not hungry or don’t feel well leads to the feeling that they must eat even if they don’t want to, undermining the natural cycle of hunger and fullness. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t eat very much one day or decides he’s not hungry. Instead, let the matter drop and go do something else he enjoys. When he’s ready to eat, he’ll let you know.

Teaching kids to make healthy food choices is as much a matter of showing as it is of telling. Giving kids a positive perspective through discussion and being a good role model leads to intelligent choices based on facts about nutrition rather than perceived ideas of good and bad. Kids know how to listen to their bodies, so as a parent, all you have to do is nurture that natural instinct.

In summary

  • Encourage your children towards healthful, whole foods.
  • Don’t turn desserts and treats into guilty pleasures or rewards.
  • Be a positive role model
  • Let your child eat intuitively. They’ll eat when they get hungry. Don’t force it.

What has worked for you? Share your tips!

©2011 Littlestomaks.com

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