On Sundays during children's church the kids are usually given a cookie, but because of our sensitivity to sugar I have been bringing a snack for my kids. Last Sunday I didn't make it downstairs before cookies were handed out but had a pleasant surprise in store for me. My older boys know that they need to past up the cookie, no matter how tempting it might be, but Grace, being like any good three year old hasn't quite made that step yet, or so I thought. All three of them passed up a cookie to wait for their snack from home even when 20 other kids were chowing down. I was so proud of them. When we started to make changes in our diet I included the kids. I have taught them how to read labels and how to calculate sugar content per serving. I know that most of the time I get eye rolls from adults, but today the boys played together all day with out one fight, not one. That included two lengthy board games and about three hours outside building a snow fort. Having that kind of love and peace in our house is so worth it and when we do have moments of discord, I can almost always trace it back to poor food choices which lead to poor personal choices.
Most people ask me how I get my kids to eat healthy foods. There are several things that I tell them.
(1) You have to lead by example. If you are chugging the soda and downing a bag of chips for lunch because you think you don't have enough time for a healthy lunch than you are shooting yourself in the foot. It really doesn't take that much time to grab something healthy if you make it available, which leads me to point number two.
(2) You are in charge at the grocery store. I have heard more than once the statement "My kid just has to have his pop everyday or he has a fit" Let him throw a fit. As a parent we are responsible for what our kids eat. Part of the reason he has a fit is because his brain it addicted to sugar like a cocaine addict is addicted to cocaine. Yes, sugar is that powerful. They also add trace amounts of MSG to sugar to make it even more addicting so that you will come back for more. If you can't pronounce it or it has food coloring in it, leave it on the shelf. Red #40 is banned in Europe because of it's highly carcinogenic properties but we use it in the US in almost every food product.
(3) Make food fun and involve your kids. That is Zach in the picture with his waffle man. They are whole wheat waffles with no added sugar. He has a small amount of honey butter on it but no maple syrup. We made faces with berries instead. Sometime we have peanut butter and bananas on them. We make the left overs into grilled cheese. Teach your kids about what they are eating, how it affects their bodies, and how they can make good choice about food. Praise them when they make a good choice about their food but don't get after them when they choose something that you wish they wouldn't have.
I often get ask if I hide veggies in their food, like puree squash in the mac and cheese. I don't because I want them to like a food for its own taste and texture. I want them to learn to try new things and learn to like others. If they don't learn these valuable skills when they are young they will be lost as adults when it come to healthy food choices. Zach's favorite vegetable is steamed broccoli, that its, no butter, nothing and he asks for it. They no longer will eat white pasta or rice because it is to starchy and bland.
One of the best books I have read lately is Little Sugar Addicts. If you have a child that has several melt downs per day then this book is for you. I have one child that is hyperactive and one child with high functioning autism (both were fully vaccinated) and when I watch what they eat they don't have any behavioral problems, not one. They are happy, healthy, peaceful loving kids, so it makes all the extra work worth it.