How to Approach a Child Struggling with Making Healthy Food Choices
The best diet is the diet your child never went on! The real message about food should stay positive! Healthy eating is not about strict diets, bossy food restrictions and talk about the “bad” to avoid. I've found that the more overweight children focus on limiting and avoiding the more attractive “bad foods” become followed by sneaking food and guilt. Through no fault of their own, some children have fallen in love with unhealthy foods and by taste preference never try new, different, and healthy foods which will allow their taste buds to expand. Don't be alarmed when children refuse veggies....serve it to them anyway but avoid force eating and begging tactics... it might backfire. The familiarity of the food is important for change added with lots of patience and love.
The best approach for us to embrace is to encourage plenty of colorful fruits, vegetables, whole grains and allow favorites once or twice a week. Balancing meals and snacks by pairing protein sources with whole-grains or fruits, and piling on the veggies will do wonders for appetite and weight control. Choosing healthy foods often and cutting back slowly on portions is the perfect balance to strike. Even with loving intentions be aware that whether one child is overweight or the entire house is, the message should be the same. Too often the "fat" child is steered toward diet food and the "lucky" child is allowed to eat plenty junk food. We should all be mindful that poor eating hurts us inside and outside! Experts remind us that healthy eating can: control appetite, boost immune systems, fight disease, improve focus, manage weight concerns and insulin resistance.
Be Careful how to talk with your Child
What you say, how you say it, and when you say it can do wonders for the child struggling with a weight issue. Model what you want to see with both eating and physical activity so it will become the norm. None of us parents, grandparents, or caregivers will do this perfect but because we love our kids we have to keep trying. Here are some additional tips from eatright.org.
Serve regular, balanced meals and snacks with a variety of nutrient-rich foods.
Provide calm, pleasant meal times where adults and children can talk together.
Allow children to use their internal signals to decide how much and what to eat.
Share an appreciation for healthful food, lovingly prepared and shared with others
Teach basic skills for making positive food choices away from home.
Find credible food and nutrition resources when you don’t know the answer here.
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