by Trudy Despain
(last updated March 13, 2012)
Kids seem to be hard-wired to want one thing, sugar. If given the choice between carrot sticks or a doughnut the choice is usually made before you can say, "Beta carotene helps fight cancer!"
Teaching children to eat healthy usually gets more difficult with each subsequent child in a family. It seems like the bad eating habits of the older children get passed along until the last kid is a full blown sugar addict by the time he (or she) is two. If you are a first time mom, take wise counsel and begin now to build healthy eating habits within your family. If you are in the throes of motherhood and your kids are already entrenched in bad habits, here are some suggestions for getting your kids on the right track to a healthy diet.
Eating healthy usually requires some forethought. Nothing is worse than running out the door for another appointment only to realize that the only thing junior has eaten today is cereal and cheddar crackers. Let's be honest, we've all been there. Accessibility is the key to making a good choice when the clock is ticking and there isn't time to prepare a full meal. Make a habit of preparing snacks and meals a week ahead of time. Buy pre-cut vegetables or save a little and cut all the vegetables you will snack on for the week ahead. Put them in single serving baggies in the fridge. That way when you're foraging for a snack you will be more likely to choose the vegetables than the cookies.
Chances are good that when you start to reduce or eliminate sugary junk food from your kids' diet, you are going to be met with some resistance. Keep in mind that it is going to take some time for your kids to get used to the change. Studies have shown that sugar and addiction are closely linked. Sugar affects the same neurochemical system as heroin but not as intensely. Take things one day at a time in order to make the transition easier on you and your kids.
Remember that your kids are watching and mirroring your behavior. If you expect a change in them, you have to be the one to set the example. Sometimes we don't even know what we are consuming from day to day. Keep a daily record of everything you eat for at least a week. Try to break down the list down into carbohydrates, fats, proteins and junk foods. Take note of needed adjustments in your dietary habits and talk to your kids about the effort you are making. Be excited and positive about the changes you're making, even when you don't feel like it. Your positive attitude will go a long way in convincing your children to adopt healthy habits.
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