I have always been committed to healthy eating. With heart disease as the sudden and silent killer of my family and losing my mother in law to cancer when she was only 47, I have dedicated my life to learn how to eat for living. When I became a mother, my passion for healthy eating did not end with me. I wanted my children to eat for good health too.
1. Be Creative In Cooking : I never wanted my children to feel deprived by eating healthy. I wanted them to experience the joys of eating. You can still enjoy favorite recipes by substituting health friendly ingredients. We still bake in our family, as a treat, we use gluten free ingredients, stevia and whole ingredients. Using organic dairy products, and rice flour we create bake goods we love as much as regular recipes. In other family favorites, like chilli I use ground turkey, organic navy and kidney beans and naturally canned tomato sauce.
2. Educate Your Kids: From the time my kids could talk, I would explain why we make the food choices we do. I always taught how each piece of food that goes in your body impacts your health and how. It is important to for kids to know why an apple is a better choice than a cookie. It is important for them to know the impact of junk food on their bodies. By educating kids early in life, they can make informed choices all thought life on how to eat healthy and why.
3. Have Treats: There have been plenty of fast food meals and junk food in my kids’ lives. It is important to teach kids that treats occasionally are fine. If kids learn to eat healthy most of the time, one unhealthy choice is not going to hurt them. The problems arise when unhealthy choices become the norm in life.
4. Give Kids Choices: I always have plenty of healthy food choices in the house. When my kids are hungry, I list off many smart options. Even when my kids were very little, I would always present a menu of smart foods for them to select. As adults, we are faced with making our own food selections. If we teach kids early how to do this then it is not a learning process in adult life. The other bonus to giving kids choices they feel like they have control. Let’s face it, I would not want to be forced to eat a bunch of food I did not like. Allowing kids to discover favorite fruits and vegetable gives them a say in what is enjoyable and healthy for them.
5. Eat To Live Not Live To Eat: Eating is not a recreational activity. Unfortunately, the media and society tie food to leisure time. It is important for kids to enjoy eating, but food should not be an emotional crutch. Too often food becomes a social event or a medication to treat emotional upset. Teaching kids to have a healthy relationship with food is paramount to life long health.
My suggestions come from my own journey with food. Growing up in a family of emotional eating, I witnessed the battle with weight and eating disorders around me. Each of my family was plagued by an unhealthy relationship with food. Today, we all make healthy choices. Personally, I did not suffer from the extreme issues of anorexia or binge eating, but my loved ones did. I watched their journeys and my own to teach my kids how to live a life using food to nourish the body and not to self medicate the mind.
Peace, Health & Joy,