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Teaching Kids about Food

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Do you have battled over food in your house? Kids who sneak into the kitchen at the first provocation and make off with anything and everything that they happen to want at that precise moment? Do you have to fight with your kids to keep them eating a relatively healthy diet?

When was the last time you explained to them why you make the choices that you do—and not just “broccoli is good for you, and chocolate is not”?

Kids don’t do well with those sorts of vague statements. Sure, broccoli is good for you; but it doesn’t taste good. They’d much rather have mac and cheese…pizza…hot dogs…hamburgers…all of those things that sound good to your taste buds and not to your body.

And let’s face it: you don’t always eat that healthy yourself. Often, you find a huge difference between kid-size portions and adult-sized portions of treats, making them even more enticing to the little people in your life. How often have you encouraged your child to make a healthy choice—or insisted that they do so—while you were lusting after huge carb-loaded portions of pasta or a large, sugar-filled dessert?

Talking to your kids about food isn’t enough. You have to model healthy eating habits; model healthy exercise habits; and explain why you make the choices that you do. If peas are so yucky, why do you bother to put them in anything that you’re eating? If beans are disgusting, why do you cook with them?

Meal plan with your kids. Hunt for recipes together—and don’t browse Pinterest indiscriminately to do it. Specifically search for healthy meal ideas, and look for ways to work healthy foods into your diets. More importantly, if a dish tastes like garbage…scratch it! That just feels like you’re punishing both yourself and your kids. It’s far better to make a healthy choice that satisfies your taste buds, too, than it is to force yourself to eat something that you don’t like even a little bit.

Let your children help do the grocery shopping. Look at labels together, and discuss what things you categorically avoid versus the things that you really want to add into your diets. Allow some unhealthy choices even as you make good ones overall—because otherwise, all of you will feel deprived. Most importantly, let your kids have a say. If Brussels sprouts are the most disgusting thing they’ve ever heard of, it won’t do you any good to cook them—but you can probably find a vegetable or two that they won’t mind. With practice, you can probably even find one that they’ll enjoy!

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