You know the struggle. Your little guy is asking for pudding, but you’ve been meaning to lower his sugar intake. Or, you’re concerned about your middle schooler’s food habits, but aren’t sure how to communicate that message without traumatizing her. What to do? We have a few tips you might appreciate. Weaning your kids off sugary snacks, (or keeping them at arm’s length in the first place), isn’t easy. We’ll serve up a few websites that’ll help you carve up nutritious snacks your kids will love (that will also appease their sweet tooth!), and hook you up with some great resources to help you maintain the positive food and body-image mood you want for your entire family. Food fun, here we come!
Ellyn Satter: The Ellyn Satter institute is dedicated to helping you raise healthy kids. The focal point of their platform is their “Division of Responsibility in Feeding,” which gives easy-to-follow guidelines for parents and kids. Eliminating dinnertime angst is possible, by simply following a few rules. Check it out. We’re certain you’ll find it to be informative!
Renegade Health: This website covers a breadth of topics concerning all areas of health. The content on the site is written by health and science writers, as well as physicians, who largely cite original sources (which we love!). We’re particularly fond of this well-researched article about how junk food hurts kids and how to wean them off it. There are a ton of tips in here, and the ideas about bridge foods, introducing new foods regularly and making a single meal for everyone are worth paying attention to.
Jamie Oliver: You may be familiar with Jamie Oliver – Food TV’s “Naked Chef,” and his mission to improve school lunch programs. Well, Jamie is also a Dad, and has an entire section of his website dedicated to recipes for kids at different stages of their development. Real food, for real kids. Enjoy.
Kids need to know what REAL food is, what it looks like, and what it tastes like. So, offer them good food, and often. Eat good food yourself! And when it comes to treats, make treats special – something to be enjoyed. Being overly myopic when it comes to food choices can often backfire … “everything in moderation” really is a useful guiding mantra.
A few arrows for your quiver!
Avoid criticism. Commenting on your child’s weight is a surefire way to create life-long self-esteem issues. Hints, glances, or outright saying “Honey, you ought to put down that cookie” damage a child’s self-worth and drive them to unhealthy coping mechanisms (like eating that cookie when you’re not looking!).
LOVE is another important factor. Love your child for who they are, and let them make their own decisions.
Do not use food as a reward. Don’t do it!
Don’t serve as much sugar at home.
Look at your labels – salad dressings, cereals, ketchup, and other pantry staples can have a ton of added sugar. The less your child has, the more accustomed to REAL food they become, and the less likely they will gorge on sugar or even be enticed by a lot of sugar.
Cook meals from scratch! This is a luxury of time that not everyone has, but the more hands-on you can be with kids, the better!
Pack your kids a good lunch, with a treat here and there, but not every day.
Ultimately: you as the parent can assist with the weaning, but if your child is school-age and has a lot of activities outside the home, it’s not possible to control everything. So teaching good habits is key. And lead by example!