You’ve decided that it’s time to make a change. You and your family need to start eating healthier, cutting back on the sweets and fast food and reaching for the organic fruits and veggies. You, as the parent, have had time to think about this and mentally prepare yourself but your kids haven’t. How do you get them on board?
Tips for talking about healthy food to your kids:
Depending on your child’s age, it will be very different how you approach this topic with them. If they are in the toddler phase then using games is a fun way to start. Ask your child to name healthy foods that are a certain color. If they are 5-10 years old. Then letting them shop and cook with you is a great way to introduce new foods. They will enjoy helping out and see how many different ways fruits and veggies can be used! If they are older, talking to them will be easy. They can understand the importance of nutrients. They may not respond as well to change though. This is when you’ll have to be patient. Older kids who have grown up on certain foods will want to stick to those foods. Let them help you cook and try some of the traditional recipe makeover ideas to make the veggies a little more hidden!
Some kids are very picky and others will eat just about anything. If you have a picky eater, they are likely to not want to try foods that have a funny color or look different than what they’re used to. Our MVP Kids chocolate shake would be a great way to introduce them to something healthy while letting them consume something they love (chocolate!). Easing into a healthy lifestyle is the way to go for those picky eaters.
Explaining how bad junk food is! Most kids (no matter the age) can understand good and bad. By telling your kids the harm eating junk food can do, they will respond better to not wanting it. Same goes for telling them all the good superfoods can do! Younger kids LOVE to hear that eating their vegetables will make them big and strong!
Games to make it fun and easy.
Above we mentioned that games could be a fun way to get your kids talking about healthy foods. Have them list healthy foods that start with a letter of the alphabet, that are a certain color, that have a certain nutrient in it, or what is considered good, better, or best.
Food Fun Activities:
Give the kids a letter. A for apple, B for banana, C for carrots, etc.
Give the kids a color. Green for spinach, yellow for lemons, red for radishes, etc.
Give kids a nutrient. Vitamin C in oranges, Lycopene in tomatoes, Fiber in blueberries, etc.
Give kids a food item and have them tell you if it is in the category of “bad”, “good”, “better”, or “best”.
Easing into the transition:
Going “cold turkey” can be very difficult. Ease out of the bad and into the good. Using the “good, better, best” idea (as mentioned in our Traditional Recipe Makeover blog) this shouldn’t be hard for you to choose the right foods or for your kids to enjoy them.
Kids love to participate in the kitchen! Let them help you go grocery shopping for dinner and also let them cook. They will be more likely to try new things if they made it!
Moderation is key. When you’re easing out of sweets, allow your kid a small scoop of coconut milk ice cream with strawberries on top, a small high-quality cookie, etc.
Sweet treats are a part of our culture and we don’t want our kids to feel like they are missing out. Encourage your kids to make a good choices when participating.
If you read this recent New York Times article about the sugar industry shifting the blame to fat, then you know that not ALL fats are created equal (just as not all sugars are created equal). Unfortunately, our culture has given the word fat a bad rap.
Don’t get us wrong, Trans and Saturated Fats are bad, but Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats are more than good for your body, they’re actually necessary for good health (spoiler alert: it’s not the kind in french fries).
20%-30% of your daily calories should be good fat to fuel your body and keep your skin healthy. There are 9 calories in every 1 gram of fat and to calculate, multiple your daily calorie intake by .2 and/or .3 to find the answer.
Example: If you eat 2,000 calories per day, 2000 X .2 = 400 Fat Calories per day.
So, what kind of fat should those 400 calories come from?
Plants provide a healthy dose of good fat such as avocados, almonds, sesame seeds and olives.
Omega-3s are a leading reason the American Heart Association suggests 2 servings of fatty fish per week such as salmon.
Room temperature oils such as olive, coconut or avocado.
Butter or Ghee contain fat-soluble vitamins, fatty acids and are ideal for cooking as they don’t lose their properties with high heat.
If you replace the bad fats with good fats and minimize it to only 20%-30% of your daily calorie count, your body would thank you (probably in more ways than one).
If you and your family are sad to say goodbye to your Kettle Chips or deep fried favorites, get creative with some alternatives like, homemade popcorn with coconut oil, kale chips or baked sweet potato “fries.”
Does your family have a love affair with butter in baked goods that exceeds daily intake limit? Or worse, do you use traditional shortening? Make warm banana bread that uses applesauce instead of butter (and use a natural sweetener like honey or maple syrup instead of sugar). Also, try palm oil as a flakey texture-producing substitute.
Coconut oil is a great go-to as well. From pan frying and sautéing, to using it in your coffee instead of creamer. It is a great substitute in recipes that call for vegetable oil. It’s vast variety for uses make this a great way to get your daily good fat in!
The more often you make these slight variations, the easier it will be to cut the cords connected to bad fat.
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