Getting Kids To Eat Healthy: 3 Tips to Taking the "Icky" Out of "Picky" Eaters And Giving Kids A Vision For Optimal Health: Part 1
By Catherine Slezinger
Being a Mom is a lot of responsibility. Not only do you have to know why you should eat healthy food, you also have to plan for, purchase, and prepare aforementioned healthy food- and then after all your hard work, you have to convince the rest of your family to eat it and enjoy it too!
It’s a big job, and a lot of women shake their heads in despair, throw their hands up, and just give up. And I don’t blame them. It can be so frustrating when our loved ones won’t do exactly what we want, even when it’s what’s best for them!
Before I share with you my three tips to taking the "icky" out of picky eaters, I thought I’d throw out a theory I personally have as to why family members can be so difficult. Here it is: I personally believe that anytime you are the recipient of a service like someone making you food, you’re much more prone to whine, complain, and refuse it than if you made it yourself. Why? Because when you make your own food, you know the effort that went into it- the ingredients, the preparation time, the hard work, and you appreciate it more. You’re more connected to it. What’s there to complain about when it’s the work of your own hands?
I’m not sure if this theory is 100% correct, but it serves the basis for one of my own personal strategies for getting our kids to eat healthy as they grow older- teaching them to cook everything I know how, and making meal preparation a family ordeal ever day. So far our oldest (4 yrs) can toast his own sprouted bread! Victory! 😉
All right, so enough with my theories, let me share with you three tips I’ve learned to keep your family eating well, and keeping the whining at a minimum.
Tip #1 To Getting the Icky out of Picky Eaters: Know Why You Are Doing What You’re Doing
Now, this might seem confusing at first. What do you mean…to get kids to eat better, I need to worry about myself first? Yep, that’s exactly right! And here’s why: if you don’t even know why you should be using this ingredient over that one, and have a real vision for your own health, why should you expect your kids to? You can’t lead them somewhere you haven’t gone. Furthermore, you’ll cave at their incessant whining and complaining about not having "X item" in the house, if you are only eating healthy because you know you "should." I "Should" eat healthy is not a good enough motivator. It won’t keep you going the distance long term, and it certainly won’t start your kids eating healthy either. Are you sold out? Are you committed to living and eating healthy no matter what? You need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing if you’re going to make an impact on your loved ones. So, do you know your why?
Tip #2 To Getting the Icky out of Picky Eaters: Know Your Stuff
Ok, I promise part 2 of this series on Thursday won’t all be about you! 😉 But, really, these are crucial underpinnings to getting kids to eat healthy. (Or husbands, for that matter!) You need to personally know the basics of which foods do what, why we should eat X, Y and Z this way, and which ingredients do what if you’re going to expect anyone else to do the same. Basically, you need to do your homework. Knowledge is power, and you can empower others to eat well if you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. This leads right into my third point-
Tip #3 To Getting the Icky out of Picky Eaters: Teach Them Their Why
Have you ever heard of the kids who were raised "right", only to go to college and go wild? Likely, those children behaved a certain way outwardly when they were growing up, but they really didn’t personally hold the same values as their parents. If you want your kids to eat healthy, you’ve gotta have a long term focus. They will spend most of their lives as adults, and they’ll have to make their own choices. Fighting with them and force feeding good food doesn’t work and only frustrates everyone. Not to sound repetitive, but it’s crucial that you teach them WHY you are eating this way, and what benefit it has for them when they do.
For example, our 4 year old, Nathaniel, was starting to fight me on taking his Primal Defense Kids every morning. He refused to drink it, wouldn’t even touch his usually beloved raw milk if he believed it to have "special" inside of it. I begged, whined, and pleaded, and then realized he needed to understand why he was being asked to drink it. My husband cracked up listening to me, but I had a whole talk with him about being healthy, being strong and doing what God’s called him to do, and how health all goes back to our tummies, and the good and bad bacteria. I am sure most of it went over his head, but since that day he has not fought me one time! He now asks to make sure I have put it in his milk in the morning, and talks about how the "special" keeps him healthy!
Do your kids even know what it means to be healthy? You might want to have a talk with them and find out.
On Thursday, I’ll talk about some nitty gritty, in the trenches tips to getting your loved ones to eat right! See you then!