I love what I do. I’ve been teaching women how to be healthy for awhile now. That includes empowering them to raise healthy eaters too. Let me premise this with nothing shocks me. I don’t judge, I just advise. So I thought it would be helpful to disclose the biggest mom mistakes I have seen in my Health Consulting practice when it comes to eating/feeding the kids. And guess what, they have solutions. And with patience (OK, a lot of it) and consistency, you are just one step closer to a healthier, more nourished you/family.
- Forgetting Whole Foods
It’s super easy to rely on packaged snacks, but processed foods are less nutritious with tons of added fat, sugar and salt. Whole foods have more protein and fiber, which keep kids satisfied longer. No time, I know this is a big issue. But check out my healthy list of on-the-go-snacks that take little to no time to prep. Really what’s an extra 5-10 extra minutes when you know you are fueling your kids with the best and setting them up to thrive? It’s all in your mindset.
- Not Offering Enough Fruits and Veggies
According to a recent report in the Journal of Adolescent Health, less than 1 in 3 kids eat enough fruits and vegetables every day. Offer fruits and vegetables at every meal and snack. We are looking for 6-8 a day. I know this seems a lot, but a handful of grapes here and a half of a banana there already packs in 2 servings. Here’s how to get more fruits and vegs into your kids.
- Too Much Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
The Standard American Diet has way to much sugar and artificial sweeteners. YIKES. No doubt, sugar should be limited, and hands-down steer clear of all artificial stuff. They’re younger, they’re smaller, and their brains are still developing. So nix the soda, especially the diet ones. Within this decade, soda will be locked up just like cigarettes. Guaranteed. Pre-school aged children who drink sugar sweetened drinks are more likely to be obese, according to a recent study in the journal Pediatrics. Plus, sugar-laden drinks are even worse than foods with sugar, because they don’t trigger a feeling of satiety. So now your kids are not only hungry they are hyper too. Behaviour issues aren’t far behind.So forget about the apple juice boxes and opt for water or green juice (I have no problem if you need to add more fruit to this recipe to get your kids to drink it.) Approximately a whopping 36% of the total calories children consume are from added sugars, a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found. Why? Sugar shows up everywhere—yogurt, trail mix, ‘natural’ cereals, cheeses. AGAIN: Read labels and opt for plain everything. You take back the control and add your own flavour.
- Thinking Low-Fat/Non-Fat Are Better
Foods labeled “low-fat” and “non-fat” usually have more empty calories than their full-fat versions. When the fat is pulled out, the sugar is poured in. So reading food labels is key. Children’s brains are 60% fat so our kids actually need the fat we adults want to loose. TIP: Include plenty of healthy fats in your child’s diet—wild salmon, avocados, olive oil, coconuts, nuts and seeds—all are loaded with the healthy fats are kids need.
- Cutting Out Carbs
The 80’s no carb thing really scarred us for life. Atkins what’s up? So even tho you might still be swearing off carbs (although you shouldn’t), cutting them out of your kid’s diet can actually eliminate the key nutrients they needs to grow and thrive. The right carbs fuel our children and supply them with constant and consistent energy flow. Good choices include 100 % whole grain pasta and breads, brown rice, millet, quinoa, sweet potatoes, oats and oatmeal.
- Being A Short Order Cook
Your kid is a picky eater, but if you let them decide what to eat, you’re essentially a short order cook. A better approach? Give kids freedom within healthy limits. Let your child choose between broccoli and carrots for dinner, and either way, you’ll be happy. I know what you are thinking …”But they won’t eat that.” I promise if your children only have healthy options to choose from, they will eat. It really is that simple. I have seen it a million times, and better yet experienced it first hand.
- Offering Unhealthy Snacks
What’s the point of this? We all loose—The kids do; as they are probably bouncing off the walls from all the sugar; and the parents are well in purgatory. Snacks that provide protein and fiber will satisfy your child’s hunger and keep weight in check. In fact, a recent study in Journal Pediatrics found that when kids ate vegetables and cheese as a snack (organic please), they ate 72% fewer calories than those who ate potato chips.
- Stopping Seconds, Forcing to Finish
We want to encourage our children to be listening to their natural hunger and satiety clues. By saying no to seconds, kids hear “mommy thinks I’m fat.” By making children finish their food instills hard habits to break when they are older. The clean plate club is so passe. Be sure to offer healthy choices and let your child decide if they are still hungry or if they need to eat more. Of course if they arent finsihing because they are distracted and want to go play, this is a different story.
- Food As Reward
OMG, I see this all the time. “If you stop crying I will give you a treat.” Food is not a reward. “If you eat all your carrots, I will give you ice cream.” Your child only hears “if you eat the yucky stuff then I will give you the yummy stuff.” Again, this leads to unhealthy food behaviours in the future. A hug, praise, or a non-food reward is a better way to handle any situation.
- Eating Differently Than Your Kids
I see this one even more. And really this the bain of it all. And probably the easiest and best way to raise healthy eaters. You will indeed raise picky eaters if you only cook what they like or what they want. If you snub Brussels Sprouts, your kid probably won’t eat them either. Cook one family meal. Everyone comes to the table and eats together. End of story. You, after all, are their biggest role model. Here’s more inspiration on this.