Considering the abundance of creature comforts and food choices in our country, it should be an easy no-brainer to just feed our children good food.
What makes it not easy?
We are inundated with tempting and unhealthy foods constantly, and somehow there is guilt associated with saying “no” to the day-after-day junk. Why is this such a source of guilt? As parents, we should embrace our responsibility to lead them in every way, not the least of which are nutrition habits. We simply don’t have the luxury to X it off our list of what we impart to them.
The processed “food” industry creates inventory that is specially formulated to hook us, and ultimately our wallets. It’s sad. I am straight-up offended at what they are trying to sell me. How stupid do they think we are? Here is a telling clue:
Is this what it’s come to? This is audacious. We should all be offended. And afraid. Anyone seen Wall-E?
We have to teach our kids how to decipher truth from fiction. Kids CAN reason. Tell them why. “Because I said so” only goes so far. That statement will control their behavior for a while. But if you want to instill into their hearts a reverence for their health, then you’ll have the “why” conversation with them. Often.
–Show them the labels with the unreadable ingredient paragraphs and discuss the implications.
–Remind them that there are plenty of occasions in the outside world to eat an array of junk food; however, their home is an oasis for delicious real food that God designed for our best health.
–Use a lot of positive reinforcement: “I LOVE the way you picked that delicious snack, it’s going to make you feel wonderful!”
–And, you can pepper-in some occasional negative mantras as well: “Cookies make you fat and slow.”* 🙂 Just kidding. But no really.
Kids appreciate the opportunity to make their own choices! Everyone wants to have some sort of control over their circumstances–allow them to exercise freedom of choice when it comes to good food. I have had much success telling my children something like this: “You know, we had cake at the birthday party yesterday. So, your choice of dessert is either fresh cherries, or ants-on-a-log, or some dried mangoes.” Et cetera. The simple opportunity to make their own selection goes a long way. (It worked well this week on our recent vacation-tour of America’s finest gas stations, fast food restaurants and the world-class American feeding-trough we call Golden Corral. I mean moving cross-country.)
The goal is to instruct our littles how to identify the unhealthy, and to be on the lookout for the ideal. Avoid spotlighting what’s being withheld. Strive to highlight all the delectable foods God has provided.
We have to move past the idea that eating healthy is somehow a deprivation!! This is such a lie from the media and from the haters all around us. It is a privilege to have access to healthful food and the means to provide it for our families.
In the immortal words of Melissa Hartwig: It’s not that effing hard.** Do right by them, and point them in the right direction. Yes, you may have some pushback, but with the right amount of reason and flexibility, it will come together. What is more–they will anticipate getting to make a choice, and begin to initiate the conversation.
Stay with it.
*Words of wisdom spoken by C. VanWey
**I am preaching to myself.
Read more on getting your kids on board to a clean diet.
This is a brief explanation of what balance means.