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Healthy Eating For Kids
Essential To Your Children's Wellbeing

Teach your kids to eat healthfully and they will learn healthy eating habits that will reward them with a lifetime of good health. All kids can be taught to be healthy eaters. The best time to start is when they are infants. But even older children, with the proper encouragement and motivation, can learn to eat healthfully and enjoy healthy food. Click here for help in choosing healthy foods.

General Guidelines To Help Get Your Kids Eating Healthfully

  • Get the whole family involved.
  • Choose only fresh whole foods: fresh fruits and vegetables, a little whole grains and healthy protein, organic if possible.
  • Use the Personal Food Planner from HEALTHY EATING: For Extremely Busy People Who Don't Have Time For It . Give each family member their own "Personal Food Planner."
  • Sit down with your child and together list some healthy foods that your child likes and can substitute for the foods you want to eliminate from his or her diet. Encourage your child to suggest healthy foods. Make sure your child agrees to the healthy foods so that he or she will eat them instead of the unhealthy foods. Try to get some healthy foods that everyone agrees upon, though they don't all have to be the same.
  • Make this a healthy eating adventure, exploring new and healthier foods to eat instead of a dull, boring diet.
  • Use my "80-20 Rule." If you eat healthy food 80% of the time, you can have an occasional "forbidden" treat. However, after eating healthfully for a period of time, 6 months to a year, depending how quickly you transition to total healthy eating, you'll probably forget about the "80-20 Rule" because you won't crave unhealthy foods anymore. If you do, then your body isn't getting all the nutrients it needs.

Here are some guidelines for the different age groups to help you get your kids eating healthfully.

Infants

When your baby is ready to start eating solid foods, feed them only fresh whole foods: fresh fruits and vegetables, a little whole grains and healthy protein, organic if possible. Use a baby food grinder to grind up the same fresh foods you eat. If your child eats only healthy foods, they will have their favorites that they will ask for and eat eagerly without any coaxing or bribing.

Do not feed them candy, cookies, ice cream, chips or any other sugary, refined and processed foods. Keep the food additives out of their foods. Let your relatives, friends and childcare providers know that they are only to eat the healthy foods you allow and not to give them any "forbidden" treats.

Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers

If your child has already tasted the sugary, processed and refined foods, make a game of using the "Personal Food Planner" with her. Help your child choose the healthy foods to substitute for the unhealthy foods. Cut the fruits and vegetables into different shapes and make pictures with them.

Use praise generously when they are eating the healthy food choices. You may want to even have a reward system for eating healthy foods. Have a special non food reward for them every time they eat the healthy foods. If they stick with it for a whole day, a few days, a week, have a special non-food treat as a reward. Bigger rewards for longer periods of time like a trip to favorite place, going to a movie or something they value but don't get a chance to do often. Be creative.

School Age

When children get into school, they will be around kids eating unhealthy food and they will want to eat what the other kids eat. Start talking with them about health and healthy food and what unhealthy food does to your body on a simple level. Even young elementary age kids can understand this when put in language appropriate to their age. When my daughter was 7, she asked me to take her grocery shopping with my FOOD ADDITIVES book so she could learn to read labels. Every time she goes shopping with me now, she picks up packages and tells me what's not healthy because of the ingredients on the label.

Use the "Personal Food Planner" and ask your child to come up with healthy choices they like. If they have a hard time thinking of healthy choices, start listing some of their favorite healthy foods they can choose from. Have them write down their choices on their "Personal Food Planner." Let them take ownership of it.

When your child goes to school, always pack a healthy lunch for them, unless you have an outstandingly healthy school lunch program. Let them help choose the healthy foods you put in their lunch. If they have a hard time coming up with healthy choices, give them several choices to choose from. And give them a special healthy treat that they really like as a reward for eating the lunch you pack for them. Also, on special occasions, you may want to send a favorite healthy treat to school with them when you know the kids will be having refined, sugary treats. My daughter's favorites are my Blueberry Muffins and Carob Fudge. As kids get older, it is helpful to use my "80-20 Rule" as motivation for eating healthfully. If they choose the healthy food 80% of the time, let them have an occasional "forbidden" treat. My daughter often reminds me of my "80-20 Rule" when birthday parties or other special occasions come up. She actually does a very good job following it without too much input from me.

Teens

Teenagers have a lot of peer pressure and feel a real need to do what the other kids do to fit in. With this age group, it is very important to teach them about nutrition and why it's important to eat healthfully.

Before using the "Personal Food Planner," read and have your teen also read HEALTHY EATING: For Extremely Busy People Who Don't Have Time For It and FOOD ADDITIVES: A Shopper's Guide To What's Safe & What's Not. Together look at food packages and read the ingredients on the labels and check in FOOD ADDITIVES to see if they are safe or unsafe.

Make sure the whole family is working on eating healthfully at home and discuss with them how they can eat more healthfully when they are out with their friends. Talk with them about the consequences of not eating healthfully. Use non-food rewards as appropriate for making healthy food choices.

Family

Healthy eating should be a family affair. Kids eat what they are taught to eat. Teach them to eat healthy food and show them by example. Talk about healthy eating and healthy food at home, the importance of eating healthfully and the consequences of eating unhealthy food - diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and disease in general.


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