Bye-Bye Fruit Snacks: Mom to Mom Advice on How to Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy

28 Jun

Unfortunately, in today’s supermarkets it can be hard to tell healthy from unhealthy. Many products, especially those formulated for children, are packaged and marketed to appear healthy when in reality they are very much the opposite. Researchers from the Prevention Institute recently took a closer look at a list of 58 products marketed towards kids that were deemed healthy by the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative. They looked at the total calories from fat, total calories from sugar, total grams of fiber, and sodium content of each product to determine whether or not it really was healthy. In the end, 49 of the 58 products were actually classified as unhealthy. Of those 58 so called healthy products, 95% contained added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup, 17% contained “no whole food ingredients” and only one product contained a green vegetable. I’m not sure what the original definition of healthy was, but it definitely doesn’t fit the picture I have.

Instead of basing your healthy decisions on packaging, go with what you know is healthy – real, whole, unprocessed foods. If it’s processed, if there are items on the ingredient list you don’t know or can’t pronounce, or if your grandma wouldn’t recognize it as a food, then it’s not food. And you don’t want to feed your family fake food. Here are some real life tips from some real life mamas on how to get your kids to eat healthy.

  • Serve the vegetables before the stuff that you know they will eat.

  • Combine vegetables with food they love – pasta with peas.

  • Make healthy foods fun with decorating – a broccoli forest or a funny veggie face.

  • Have a picnic full of good-for-you foods.

  • Sneak in the nutritious ingredients – vegetable purees hidden in sauces, tacos, muffins, soups and pancakes.

  • Start a garden. Your kids will be dying to try what they worked so hard to grow.

  • Use a two-bite rule. Even if your child doesn’t want to try something, they have to have two bites. They’ll end up liking a lot of new foods.

  • Clean and cut up fruits and veggies when you get them home from the store. Then they’re ready to go when your little ones need a snack.

  • Buy a limited amount of “treats” for your kids each month. When they’re gone, then they’re gone until next month.

  • Let your kids garnish their own food with shredded cheese, seasoning or dip. It gives them a sense of control, and they’ll end up eating more and even enjoying it.

  • Invite your kids into the kitchen. When they help cook it they are much more likely to eat it.

  • Invite over some “good eaters” to serve as a role model.

  • Enjoy nutritious foods yourself, but don’t offer any to your child. Just make sure they see how much you’re enjoying your “treat”. They’ll be begging for a taste.

  • Don’t eliminate unhealthy foods they love; use those foods to your advantage instead. Top homemade pizzas with veggies and mix white rice with equal an part brown rice.

  • Don’t tell them it’s healthy!

Sources:

Bessinger, Jeannette and Yablon-Brenner. “A healthy diet for the whole family” Better Homes and Gardens. March 2011.

The Motherboard. Better Homes and Gardens.

Quinlan, Erin. “Real Food, Real Families” Better Homes and Gardens. March 2011.

Kaplan, Karen. “’Healthy’ kids’ foods usually aren’t, study finds” Los Angeles Times. January 2011. 

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