Episode 10: April 13, 2007
Hey There! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some Quick and Dirty Tips for Practical Parenting. Today’s Topic: Eat Your Vegetables; Tips to Encourage Healthy Eating.
In today’s fast food friendly world, it doesn’t always seem easy to make healthy eating choices for ourselves, let alone for our children. Yet, it is very important that we instill these healthy eating habits as early as possible. Giving our children a head start to a healthy lifestyle will help them to make better choices in the future.
The first thing you can do to help your child is to educate yourself. Speak to your pediatrician or a nutritionist. Make sure you feel confident in the choices you are making for your family. Eating healthy as a family is a great start! By eating together and making healthy choices for yourself, you are setting an example for your children.
When planning meals, serve your children the same foods as the rest of the family. You may need to make a few adjustments based on the age of the children and the amount of teeth available. When introducing new foods, be sure to incorporate one or two of your child’s favorite healthy foods into the meal. Keep in mind that a child may not eat a new food the first few times it is served. He might not even want to taste it. Pressuring your child to eat something he doesn’t want will only cause frustration. You can encourage him to try it, but don’t force the issue.
I see a lot of parents rushing their children through meals. This is not a good practice. Everybody seems to be so busy these days. This causes us to rush through our own meals as well as pushing our kids through theirs. If a child eats too fast, their body will not have the time to recognize that their hunger has been satiated. This can cause over-eating, which can cause the stomach to stretch. Allow time for your meals and encourage your children to eat slowly and enjoy their food.
Small children have the ability to sense fullness and hunger. They also have smaller stomachs than adults. It may often seem that your child is not eating enough. Unless your child is showing signs of malnutrition, you do not need to worry. If you are concerned about your child’s eating habits, you should discuss this with your pediatrician. Since a child's stomach is smaller, it's normal for a child to eat five or six small meals instead of three large ones. It may seem as though they are grazing throughout the day. My recommendation is to have healthy food available for these in-between meal snacks. Try to choose foods packed with nutrition such as fruits and vegetables, cheese sticks, peanut butter, or yogurt. Since your child’s tummy will fill up fast, you’ll want to be sure you are filling it with healthful foods. Try to keep these snack times scheduled at regular intervals each day. Pay close attention to these schedules. Children can easily fall into the habit of snacking if they are bored. If your child suddenly wants to snack excessively or at unusual times, you’ll need to determine if he really is hungry. It could mean a growth spurt, or he might be eating to fill boredom. Try engaging your child in some activities and see if his hunger subsides.
When children refuse to eat healthy foods, there are a few things you can do to encourage them to try new things. One is to let them help you with the shopping. Teaching your child how to pick out produce with you can be both fun and educational. My daughter especially loves to pick out her own apples. We check them together, and I let her put them in the bag. Another tip is to let your child help with cooking whenever possible. Children love to pour and stir. They will be much more willing to eat something they’ve helped, and it's fun for everyone! Make sure they help you with clean up too.
My final tip for this episode is about liquids. Whenever possible, encourage your child to drink water in lieu of other more sugary beverages. Fruit juices are better than soda, but are still high in sugar. Fresh fruit is much better for your kids. Drinking too much liquid can cause a child to feel full. If they feel full, they may not want to eat. Keep this in mind if your child is about to have a big drink right before mealtime.
That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed listening. Don’t forget to eat your vegetables!
The Mighty Mommy’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Practical Parenting is part of the QDNow network, so be sure to check out other great shows like Legal Lad, and Grammar Girl at www.quickanddirtytips.com.
This is your friend, the Mighty Mommy wishing you happy and fun parenting!
Music – “Golly Gee” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons "Attribution 2.0" creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/