There are two choices when our children take on an undesirable habit.
1. React immediately, nip it in the bud and point out that it is unacceptable or
2. Simply ignore in the hope that it will be something they outgrow.
When it comes to bad eating habits habits though I come from the school of thought that nipping something in the bud is far easier than undoing damage. We become a little emotional around eating which is why some habits can slip under the radar. If our children refuse something healthy quite often it is replaced by ‘anything, as long as they eat’. This is how eating the “five food groups”, which in kid terms mean pasta, cheese, yoghurt, bread and juice begins.Here are some ways to help overcome the most common problem without pressuring or making matters worse.
The one that doesn’t want to go within a kilometre radius of vegetables, or fruit for that matter, this one can be hard to break but well worth your perseverance. Kids that eat veggies turn into adults that eat veggies with healthier body weights and overall diets.
It is reported that it can take up to 20 tastes of something before kids will accept some foods so you might think all your efforts are going in vain but it will be worth your trouble. Don’t be afraid to add some olive oil, light margarine or low fat cheese to veggies to make them more appealing. Having fun growing veggie gardens and heading to the fruit market also brings a new element of fun and hopefully an interest in the process.
The first foods our children are usually introduced to are sweet, and let’s face it, we all love sweet!! Natural sugars are okay in the form of fruit but it’s when we start eating too many foods that have added sugar, such as sweets and soft drinks, that problems start. Like adults, kids can get on a roll and crave sugary items and sweet usually wins over savoury.
Learn how to read food labels – 4 grams of sugar per serving is equivalent to 1 tsp of sugar. Keep the sugary items out of the house and set a limit to how much they eat. Treats are a part of growing up but our children don’t need a nightly dessert or daily soft drink.
You will find too many processed carbohydrates like bread and biscuits will lead to a hungry child as these foods are high GI foods and digest quickly. Usually it is a texture problem, with chewing meat and crunchy vegetables too much effort. A diet mainly consisting of processed carbs lead to nutrient deficiencies such as low iron and zinc levels.
A way around this problem is to include soft casserole meats, diced finely in a sauce or minced. Then you can progress from there. Try also to substitute the carbs with more whole grain options, such as wholemeal instead of white bread, whole grain biscuits instead of sweet and muesli and whole wheat cereals.
Thirst should be quenched by water, not sweet juices. I have seen this problem and how it can affect food choices and eating patterns. Not only are teeth constantly dosed in sugar but high juice intake can lead to obesity. Drinking juice usually takes the appetite away from eating food and it becomes such an addiction that water just doesn’t cut it.
Try not to go cold turkey, begin by watering down the juice by halves and quarters. Make water fun by adding a straw or a special new cup that only water is allowed in, this might bring excitement to an otherwise plain problem!
Anything worth doing doesn’t usually come easily, so do your best. Good health is one of the most important gifts that we can pass on to our children.
Without labelling anyone..does your child take on any of these ‘foodonalities”?