Flexibility is the secret ingredient to raising healthy children and eating well is the most important act we can do to ensure health. So how can I raise my children to eat and live well and what guidelines do I follow?
What to Eat: Local, Seasonal, and Whole Foods
What is local, seasonal or “cool” to eat as a kid will constantly change, but the fundamentals of sound nutrition and family mealtimes are pretty much set. Fresh, whole, real food is best. What does this mean?
- How many ingredients does the food have? There should really only be one. A whole food’s ingredient list is simply itself.
- Was the food grown in a plant or did it come from one? Real food is grown on a plant, not manufactured in one! The less processing and steps taken to transform the food is ideal.
- Can you picture what the food looked like in its natural state before you bought it? I can picture a chicken easily but chicken nuggets?
Model Healthy Eating–Actions Speak Louder Than Words!
What you eat, how you eat, and why you eat what you do is really important because little people are keen observers who absorb everything you do. Think of them as sponges soaking in all the details from their parents.
Eating wholesome meals is more than modeling sound nutrition; it is about fostering family unity, connectedness, ritual, and identity as a group. Studies show the family who eats together, stays together. Adolescents are less prone to risky behavior, disordered eating, drug and alcohol abuse, and tend to be better socially adjusted when they have a table filled with family or community to sit at and share meals with. Instill the following in your household to ensure the best for your children, and YOU!
- Set realistic boundaries about food choices and mealtimes. Next time your picky eater is giving you trouble, keep this mind: You provide the what, where, and when and your child decides the if and how much.
- Always provide at least one high quality food you trust is healthy but enjoyed by your child.
- Keep in mind that it takes younger taste buds numerous times to taste something new before really deciding whether or not they like it. Be sure to offer your child a disliked food several times and in different recipes to give them an opportunity to keep trying.
- Make mealtimes pleasant, relaxed, and fun. Meals are a time to commune as a family. Engage your child in conversation and keep the energy light and positive.
- Most of all trust your young child to be naturally attuned to their hunger and satiety levels. When a child is provided real, whole foods, unadulterated with sugar, poor quality fats, toxic additives, and food dyes their body knows exactly what to eat and how much. Over a few days, or even a week in certain cases, children will eat every type of food and receive proper nutrition if we do our part as parents. They know exactly what foods to eat when we don’t sabotage their natural instincts with candy or processed and convenient junk foods!
Excerpt from an Article by Mark Hyman, MD
Mark Hyman, MD, believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. He is a practicing family physician, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field.