Raising Healthy Eaters: It’s Worth It!

Pickle Planet Moncton thanks mom-of-two and Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant & Movin’ Munchkins founder Katie Gillingham for sharing fun, healthy ideas for feeding your family.

As many of you know, I get pretty passionate when it comes to what we are feeding our kids. I’m a big believer in balance, letting kids have fun, and eating treats now and then, but I am also dedicated to helping parents ensure that for the most part, their kids are eating healthy, varied whole foods.

Here’s why I can get a bit crazy about kids’ food: The childhood obesity rate in Canada is between 25-30 % — outrageous, right?! This is the first generation of children expected to have a shorter life than their parents, and that prediction is largely connected to food choices.

The American Dietetic Association recently determined a whopping 40% of calories consumed daily by kids between the ages of 2 and 18 are “empty” calories:  In other words, almost half of the food kids are eating contains no nutritive value!

Here are some basic things it is easy to forget as parents:

  • You are the most influential people to your children when it comes to setting an example.  You get to teach them a critical life-long health habit that can literally shape the rest of their lives. They are watching you: they see you drink pop, skip meals, and pick at your own vegetables! Conversely, they also see you exercise, eat salad, and cook meals at home!

  • You are in charge of the food. Not your kids. You buy the groceries, choose the recipes, and cook the food. Most importantly, you set the patterns, so make them healthy from the start and you’ll never have to struggle with breaking bad habits. A child who has never eaten white rice at home will never expect it at home; and a child who has been through the drive-through once will ask for it every time he sees that sign.

  • It is your job to persevere: It really does take 10 to 15 tries sometimes before kids will eat and admit to liking a new food. You wouldn’t give up on other undesirable behaviors after a couple of tries, so why give up on selective eating? If you’re child was biting, you would work on it until the behavior modified, right?

  • The same parenting strategies that have lead to success in an other areas will work with food. Repeat, reinforce, praise! Your kids want to please you, so make sure you find a reason to praise their efforts at healthy eating whenever you can. Always combine your praise with education – tell them why that food is good for them. Not sure why? Google it!

  • Kids are empowered by choice: Get them involved in family food – give them a patch of the garden or a healthy meal a week to plan. Show them healthy ways to prepare food. Your job is to teach them how to eat healthy, not just what to eat.

At the end of the day, whatever your personal struggles are with feeding your family, dig in and persevere. If you want to raise happy, healthy kids, this is part of your job as a parent. Give it the same dedication you would any other fundamental aspect of parenting. Don’t expect miracles – and I promise you will see slow, steady positive changes.

For kid-friendly recipes – just visit the Simple Balance recipe blog!

Simple Balance2015 (77)

Katie is the founder of New Brunswick-based Movin’ Munchkins and formerly of Simple-Balance NB. Her recipes and tips for healthy family eating can be found here on Pickle Planet Moncton in our Plates category.

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