Mothers often wonder, and books and web pages disagree, about whether you should hide veggies on a plate in the hope your child will eat them without noticing. My answers as a registered dietician are the same as my answer as a mom: you should not.
Having a toddler always means power struggles. A main focus of my work with helping families feed their children from infancy to their teenage years is to take the power struggle out of food.
A big aspect of this is removing all forms of pressure, including hidden vegetables. After all, how would you feel if someone hid something in your food? I know I’d be upset! I like to empower kids with choices from what is offered.
Here are a few tips:
In short, it’s about building trust. Removing the power struggles from food choices is so important. Don’t deceive children about vegetables being in a dish. If a pureed soup has different vegetables in it and your kids enjoy it, they may not even realize they like these vegetables if they aren’t told what they’re eating. In fact, deception can backfire — children won’t eat something again just out of spite, or they won’t eat a vegetable because they don’t know they like it.
If a child tries a new food and doesn’t like it, it’s fine to spit it out. Just teach them a polite way to do so. Knowing they have the option to spit it out can encourage them to try more. It takes 15-20 times of trying a food to decide you actually like it so it might take a lot of spitting it out before they know whether they like it or not. As long as you provide the option to try vegetables in their own time, it will happen. Don’t lose patience, and don’t lose hope.
My best advice: don’t worry! It won’t be like this forever. When people are really concerned I work with them to look at ways pressure can appear and power struggles develop. We go through their diet to ensure their child is getting necessary nutrients or to find alternatives that the child accepts.
Remember, kids have different eating patterns. This is normal.
Despite research that claims a recent improvement, childhood obesity remains a prominent problem which has not declined in the last decade. Unfortunately, many parents unknowingly fuel their child’s unhealthy habits.
Children who are heavy prove more likely to develop serious health risks like high blood pressure, diabetes, and an early death sentence. Even if children are able to lose the weight, personalized health care plan doctors have found that they are often more susceptible to these health risks later on in life.
These five tips will help to fight against childhood obesity, giving them a long healthy life.
1. TV Time
Television has taken over the world with its entertaining escape from reality. However, too much TV can have a powerful impact on children’s obesity.
In a study of obese children, 90 percent had been exposed to television as a brand new baby, while 50 percent were active participants, placed in front of television by their parents. As children grow older, if they are used to spending hours in front of a television, they will lose interest in other activities that could help them to become active and healthy.
2. Role Model
Children learn from example. If they see Mom and Dad vegging out in front of the TV, eating poorly, or ignoring their health, they will most likely follow this set pattern. Kids love to be just like their parents, and with parents setting an influential example of health, kids are likely to adopt this model. Habits that begin when children are young are likely to persist as they age. Depending on the habit, this can be a good thing or a bad thing.
No matter how busy life gets, the importance of eating a well balanced diet can never be reiterated enough. Even though a drive-thru meal might be more convenient, it can have serious consequences on a child’s body.
Good nutrition starts with the most important meal of the day: breakfast. Children need breakfast—and a nutritious one at that—to perform well in school. Whether it is a whole grain cereal, which has been linked to lowering BMI, toast, eggs, etc., breakfast should be high in protein and low in sugar. It will keep children alert throughout the school morning while adding nutrients to their growing bodies.
4. Get Outside
Too often children are allowed to spend more time inside playing with electronics than outside exercising. While occupying a child with a video game or tablet sometimes seems like the easiest thing to do, it might be hurting the child’s overall health.
Children need to spend time outside playing, using their imagination, socializing with neighborhood kids, and being active. Activity not only helps to prevent obesity; it also stimulates creativity and cognitive function.
5. Be Honest
While kids should certainly not be obsessing over their weight, they should recognize and understand the importance of health. Along with showing them what to do, talk openly and often about making good food choices and setting an exercise routine. Educate yourselves together by researching good health habits and setting family goals.
Children need a health precedent set for them, and the best people to advise them are definitely their own parents.
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