If a child’s diet were totally up to them, it would consist of candy, ice cream, pizza, French fries, soda, and more pizza. Well now that I think about it, if nutrition didn’t matter that would be my exact diet as well! However, the difference between a child and I is that I am aware of how a long-term diet like that can affect my health. Variety is really important! Most children don’t know any better. To make things worse, many companies target children with their sugar-filled products, making it even more complicated to get them aboard the veggie-fruit train.
There has been tons of recent focus on the childhood obesity epidemic in our country. First Lady Michele Obama created the Let’s Move! initiative to provide schools, families, and communities the simple tools they need to help kids be more active, eat better, and get healthy. The NFL and National Dairy Council created an in-school nutrition and physical activity program, Fuel Up to Play 60, to help encourage today’s youth to lead healthier lives. Registered Dietitian Nutrition practices like ours have programs focused solely on picky eating interventions for children. Many Registered Dietitian Nutritionists stepping up as community leaders by giving nutrition presentations at local schools and/or after school programs.
With so many resources available, the end result usually comes down to what’s going on at home. Raising a child is difficult to say the least, especially when juggling work and your own self-care interests – it’s easy to turn to the convenience of fast food. By keeping in mind the ultimate goal of encouraging healthy habits – to live a life free of nutrition-related disease – the urgency for overall wellness becomes clearer. But how do you get your child excited about eating healthy? Here are some ways to get started:
1. Involve them on your next trip to the grocery store
Give them a chance to explore the fresh produce section. Play games like I Spy or Treasure Hunt when going through the vegetable and fruit section of your shopping list. Have them choose one brand new piece of fruit and vegetable that they have never tried before and pick a specific day of the week that they can look forward to sampling it!
2. Have them be your little helpers in the kitchen
This can be especially useful for picky eaters, who would be more inclined to try a food they helped prepare because they know exactly what’s in it. Stirring things together, measuring and pouring ingredients, and making simple sandwiches are all great ways to involve children in the kitchen and not jeopardizing their safety.
3. Let them choose the recipe
Along with the cooking, a child that chooses the recipe themselves is likely to develop a sense of independence and a positive self-image.
These are just a few ideas to get your child to care about nutrition at home. Your local Registered Dietitian can certainly work with you to find more individualized ways – every child is different. Bottom line, children like things that are fun – make food fun!
Rebecca Bitzer and Associates has the best Dietitians on the east coast who love being involved in the community. We will do all that is possible to promote health and wellness for children of all ages. Fill out a speaker request form to have a Dietitian speak at your local school or after school program.
Please click here or give us a call at 301-474-2499 if you would like the help of a dietitian in meal planning with your kids.