• Category: Blog
  • Published Dated: August 5, 2014
  • Writen by:
Girl Dinner

Happy Kids Eat Right Month!  Yep, as of 2014, every August is now dedicated to the campaign of improving the nutrition and health of children.  Of course it’s a year-round, day-to-day part of living for moms, dads, grandparents, and caretakers everywhere, many of whom are hoping to gain some ground in maneuvering good eating habits in these pint-sized masterminds. Thus, this month is a great reminder of what we can do to help encourage smart and healthy eating for all of us in a variety of circumstances that come our way.

So . . . I’ve got a question.  What can WE do to really make a difference in raising kids who eat smart because, well . . . because they actually want to?  Especially considering that we live in such a complicated food world where it can seem as though just about everyone wants to “make friends” with our kids and keep the peace by handing out pseudo foods here, there, and everywhere.

Okay, but back up.  Who is the best teacher for our little masterminds?  That’s right . . . we are!  WE need to eat well if we expect the same from our kids.  And, do we really need to make a big deal out of it, as though it’s an act of martyrdom to eat a salad, consume carrots, or munch on other veggies?  I think not.  It goes without saying that eating healthy foods because we enjoy them and appreciate the way they help us to feel, is enough.

Also, exposing our children to a variety of foods and helping them to feel comfortable in various eating settings is clutch.  Kids are curious and it’s great for them to try new foods, again, without parents expressing personal feelings and grievances about foods. Ideally we should let children decide for themselves how they like foods, while not assigning strong associations until they’ve been willing to try these foods a few times. These days I’ve been doing my best to avoid the “eat your vegetables so you will grow big and strong” line and rather try to incorporate simple lessons in nutrition that aren’t so poignant, or that may categorize healthy foods as good and others as blacklisted, which can in-turn be counterproductive when kids are away from home, making their own choices about food.

When I was studying nutrition at Utah State University, a friend and I were in charge of a fun themed lunch and nutrition celebration at a local elementary school.  We chose a Mardi Gras theme and served simple, fun foods for the students, teacher and principle for the occasion.  Although I don’t recall exactly what we served that day, I do know that we stuck with simple and healthy foods in a fun presentation style.  I will never forget one student’s mother rushing in with food for her daughter, just as it was time to serve the students lunch.  She explained that what we were serving should not be given to her daughter who was very picky.  Was this mother helping or hindering her daughter?

 A friend of mine is an exceptional cook.  She, however, married a fella who subsisted mainly on Mac and Cheese, Ramen, and other convenience foods growing up and found her foodie-ways to be too extreme for his palate and, amazingly enough . . . he didn’t appreciate her wonderful workings with fresh foods and snazzy recipes!  It was sad for her that he could care less about her gourmet menus and her excitement in trying new recipes.  His palate was very narrow as a result of his upbringing.

Bottom line:  We should expose our kids to a variety of new foods, while not making too big a deal about refusal of certain items.  Food and meals should never be about control and power.  They should be fun, while it’s not a perfect world and working to get there is the goal, right?  Resist the urge to point out what is healthy and what is not.  Rather it’s great to allow children to eat, again, because it’s an enjoyable experience.  Truthfully, no meal or single food will make or break health for our kids.  It’s overall habits and relationships with food that matter over time.  Consider what your kids are getting over a two-week span.  Keep exposing them to new, fresh, and REAL options.

How did the way you were raised affect your sense of food adventure and willingness to try new good-for-you foods?

All the best!

Jessica

 

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