By Christie Korth, CHC AADP
Virtually all parent surveyed have concerns about their child possessing a healthy relationship with food. This generally starts early on when mom and dad decide between breastfeeding or bottle feeding. Parents ponder the various choices: “What kind of formula is best?“ or “How long should I breastfeed?” Some parents and children breeze right through this stage, and then graduate on to new, more complex questions. Take solid foods, for instance: When should you introduce them? Which type? At what age: 4 to 6 months? After 6 months? Once the child has graduated from solids, its onto the daunting task of getting rid of sippy cups, planning meals to include all of the food groups. Trying to meet the nutritional needs of any child can be a challenge. There can be so many important questions.
The most priceless gift you can give to your child is the tools to eating healthy. Thankfully, there are dozens of ways you can teach your child to have a healthy relationship with foods. These tools will allow your children to make the absolute best choices, even without your guidance at some point.
Healthy Eating Habits Start Early
Any nutrition savvy pediatrician will tell you, introducing sugar in a diet is simply unnecessary in the form of simple carbohydrates. Sugar is addictive, therefore small amounts of it, cause you to crave more. Think about babies, if they grow up as babies eating jarred fruits and vegetables, where is the need to add in unhealthy foods? Babies in Japan don’t balk at raw fish, people of Indian descent don’t balk at curry, and children who start off eating fruits and vegetables will continue to eat them. So, if you refrain from introducing foods like hot dogs and sugary fruit snacks early on, chances are, your child will avoid them and not be too excited to include these foods in their repertoire. Enjoying these foods on occasion is one thing. Eating them all of the time, is another.
Not Too Late for Older Children to Learn Healthy Eating
Multiple studies have shown that a child may need to try a food five to ten times before they develop a taste for it. A variety of vegetables should always be included in both lunch and dinner, and readily available for snacks. You can explain to your child, Johnny, if you try this ten times and you still don’t like it, you will never have to try it again.” This usually validates a child’s feelings while giving them the free reign to try the food at their own pace.
Pack Healthy Lunches and Snacks
Switching from chips and cheese doodles doesn’t take extra time, it takes a shift in mindset. Raw veggies make great replacements for junk food snacks. It takes about three minutes to remove a pepper from the fridge, wash it, slice it, stuff it in a baggie and wipe down the counter. Add sugar snap peas or snow peas to the mix and it gets even easier. No slicing needed. Add baby carrots with dressing to lunch, yet another great way to incorporate more veggies and takes next to zero effort!
Remember, whenever kids try something new, they may like it, they may not. The point is to make healthy foods more readily available than junk food, and establish a mindset that fruits and vegetables should be a part of everyday life.
Stay tuned for part 2 of this article shortly…..
– Christie Korth is a Crohn’s disease survivor, author, certified health coach and holistic nutritionist who found her way to health and wellness after nearly succumbing to a severe case of Crohn’s disease. After harnessing the power of nutrition and gaining her health back, she then went on to be the founder and director of Happy & Healthy Wellness Counseling based just outside of NYC. She studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Columbia University and the Clayton College of Natural Health and is a certified holistic health practitioner with the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Christie is the Corporate Nutritionist for Brain Balance Achievement Centers, where she designs the nutrition protocol for franchises across the country. Christie is a nutrition expert for Dr. Oz’s Sharecare.com and frequently contributes nutrition articles to Long Island Parent Magazine. Christie is he author of The IBD Healing Plan and Recipe Book: A Guide to Releive Crohn’s and Colitis with Whole Foods. Christie lives in New York with her son, her husband, and her cat.