Healthy eating takes a lot of effort. What more for picky kids? But when food is vital for normal growth, eating well is a must. It’s up to you to guide them. Remember, the body changes so much during childhood. Healthy eating provides the nutrients needed to make it happen. Most importantly, it’ll help them be the best they can be. Childhood is also prime time for establishing eating habits. It sets the tone for their entire life! The way they eat today will continue until tomorrow and beyond.
Unfortunately, the food industry knows how to get the kid’s attention. Sugary treats and salty snacks are wrapped in bright and fun colors. Cartoon characters adorn packages. In the grocery, these foods are mysteriously within children’s eye level. None of this is a coincidence. This is where you come in. Try the 3r approach to improve eating habits. This method was designed by the center for disease control (CDC) for all ages,1 but
The 3R Approach For Kids
1. The First Approach Is Reflect
Look at your family’s current eating habits. Does it involve fruits and veggies? If so, how many are eaten each day? How are they prepared? Read the labels on all packaged goods. This includes snacks, frozen food, and everything in between. The sugar, fat, and sodium content might shock you. It also helps to think about your family’s relationship with food. Is it just something that’s eaten on the go? Or does everyone help make meals?
Consider where your family eats. Is it together at the dinner table or in front of a screen? The latter counts as distracted eating, a habit that’s linked to overeating.2 Finally, think about how your kids absorb outside influences. How do they eat at school? When you talk about food and health, what message do you send? If they eat unhealthy foods, is it a treat or the norm? Reflection will be different for everyone, but it serves as a starting point. By looking at the good and bad, you’ll figure out what needs improvement.
2. The Second Approach Is Replace
To make a change, the bad must go out for the good to come in. This includes both habits and food. You have control over what enters the home, so make firm boundaries. Take the time to learn about healthy swap-outs. For example, if your kids love cookies, try your hand at quinoa chocolate cookies.
Instead of alfredo sauce, whip up a creamy avocado version. Make fruit smoothie ice pops on hot summer days. The
3. The Third Approach Is Reinforce
When you make firm boundaries, stick to them. No should always mean no. It shouldn’t mean “yes” with enough kicking, screaming, or crying. Hold your word, even if you’re at the grocery store. If you want to make exceptions, keep those consistent as well. For instance, if cake is only allowed at birthday parties, then keep it that way. This type of moderation will reinforce that there’s a time and place for “sometimes” foods.
As with any other rule, always play fair. If the kids aren’t allowed to eat in front of the television, continuously enforce it with every
|↑1||Improving Your Eating Habits. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.|
|↑2||Robinson, Eric, Paul Aveyard, Amanda Daley, Kate Jolly, Amanda Lewis, Deborah Lycett, and Suzanne Higgs. “Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and