Today, guest blogger Tara Heath shares her tips for growing kids that love real food. Tara is a freelance writer in Southern California. With a background in health, children’s diets are very important to her and she loves writing about how to make healthier decisions when it comes to what you eat.
Candy bars, lollipops, ice cream, chips, sodas, fast foods – all of these things are fine in moderation, but what happens when your children start eating a diet that consists more of these elements than of those natural, good-for-you foods? It leads to a population of children who are more overweight, less active, and who have more significant health problems.
Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the past 30 years. It has also been determined that they in the year 2010, more than one third of children and young adults were battling with weight issues. These are pretty alarming statistics, and as a parent, they are statistics that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Why is it that issues with being overweight are becoming so prevalent in children in today’s day-and-age? The constant exposure and easy access to junk foods certainly contributes to the problem. Commercials are constantly advertising less-than healthy foods. Kids have easy access to junk food in schools. And, parents today are so busy that they often simply don’t have time to serve their children healthy and nutritious meals every night, so resorting to fast food becomes the easiest solution.
Fortunately, you can put a stop to this garbage food obsession that has turned into such a problem. By teaching your kids to prefer real food, you will promote a healthier lifestyle and help avoid having them become one of those childhood obesity statistics.
Start them Young
The sooner you expose your kids to real, healthy food, the more likely they will be to choose these options as they get older. Simply avoid offering junk foods, and don’t eat them yourself! Instead, offer your kids dishes made of natural foods that are good for them. They’ll develop a taste for these foods, and will be more inclined to continue consuming them.
Offer Healthy Options
Give your children the opportunity to make healthy food choices. Instead of putting a jar of cookies on the countertop, put out a bowl of fruit. Instead of filling the freezer with ice cream, fill it with frozen fruit bars.
Get them Involved
Kids love having a say in what they do. When you involve them in making good food choices, they will be more likely to want to eat right. Let them help you choose healthy menu items, allow them to assist in shopping for ‘real’ foods, and you can even encourage them to grow their own healthy foods right in your backyard, which they will adore tending to and eating – kids love reaping the benefits of their labor.
Make it Fun
The more fun something is, the more inclined children will be to participate. This idea applies to food, too. Instead of serving boring healthy dishes, add some pizzazz to them. Create a healthy snack of celery, peanut butter, and raisins and call it ‘ants on a log’. Make homemade baked sweet potato fries, but use fun shaped cookie cutters to cut the potatoes.
Lead by Example
Children truly are mirrors of their parents. To promote healthy eating, eat healthily yourself. When your kids see you making healthy food choices, they will be more apt to follow.
As a parent, you have the ability to affect and shape every aspect of your child’s life, including what their diet consists of. Raise a child to love real foods and he will be a real food eater for life – and will avoid being one of those dreaded statistics.
Now it’s your turn to share…how do you get your kids to make healthy food choices? Is it easy, hard?…Let us know!