Thursday, January 12, 2012

How Do I Get My Family To Eat Better?

     I have heard, many times, "my kids won't eat that!"  I have some ideas for encouraging healthy eating habits in a family.

1.  Work on changing one thing at a time.  Nothing seems to derail a change in diet like doing too much at one time.  Food changes can be overwhelming.  Once you have mastered one change, move to another.  I usually suggest eliminating sugar first (unless there is a food allergy or intolerance) because it is the most obvious and the easiest to work with.  Sugars would include all whites - white flour, white sugar, etc.  

2.  Everyone in the family has the same food choices.  Several years ago it was thought that one of my sons had pre-diabetes.  My husband and I decided that we would eliminate white flour and sugar from our diets so that our son could feel better.  If we had just eliminated sugar for our son, it would have been very difficult for him to watch the rest of us eat sugar-filled items while he couldn't.  After some time with a nearly sugar-free diet we learned that the real problem is gluten and that three of our children have some degree of gluten intolerance.  Our whole family went gluten-free for quite some time.  Now that the three have a handle on their foods, we have allowed for some wheat breads to come back in to the house - mostly for cost sake.

3.  Only have good choices available.  My sister and I had a conversation the other day about food choices.  If a child has a choice between an orange and animal crackers, the child will generally choose the animal crackers.  This can be the hardest step in change because it requires cleaning out the cupboards and fridge and getting rid of the foods that we wish to take out of our diet.

4.  Make good foods convenient.  Another difficult part of changing to healthy foods is that they are often not convenient.  That might mean peeling and cutting fruit and veggies ahead of time and having a healthy dip prepared.  I wash and tear lettuce when I get it so that anyone in the house can have a salad at any time.  Instead of wasting lettuce, it is gone very quickly now.  At this time, I can't keep enough homemade popsicles in the freezer because they are eaten so fast.  It takes a bit of time to prepare them but it is SO worth it.

5.  Let your kids be part of the preparation.  Nothing helps a kid want to eat a food like helping to make that food.  Also, let them be part of the planning  My kids know that if they don't like something we are eating, they can't complain.  They may go make something for themselves (we have parameters set) or choose not to eat.  It sounds harsh but it has actually solved many a problem in our home.

I would love to hear your ideas for helping a family make better food choices!

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