It's nothing new to hear that consumption of fruits and vegetables in kids (and adults for that matter) has been on the decline, while fast foods, sugary drinks, and processed snacks have become the staples of the American diet. But, it's also no coincidence that the incidence of preventable disease has risen over the last few generations. What's more is that the onset of these diseases has gotten younger as our collective eating habits have deteriorated.
So, how do we as parents ensure our kids establish and maintain healthy eating habits for life? The next few posts will be a short series on doing just that. I'd love to make it a discussion so feel free to share any thoughts you have.
Today, we will start with a few simple truths that we as parents need to internalize.
CHILDREN ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR DIET
Before anything else, we have to acknowledge our role as the food keepers. Our kids do not go grocery shopping. They don't make dinner or have the ability to take themselves to their favorite fast food restaurant. And while yes, they have likes and dislikes, food jags and the like, the environment which we provide them during their childhood (especially early childhood) will play a huge role in the type of eaters they will be later in life.
OUR KIDS WILL EAT WHAT IS IN THE HOME
It is 100% unrealistic to think that our kids will grow to like and eat healthy foods, if unhealthy foods are a constant presence in our homes and everyday lives. This may seem intuitive, but I've counseled countless families that are perplexed as to why their children skip the apples sitting on the counter and head straight for the potato chips instead.
If we do not want our kids eating junk food, we have to get it out of our homes.
OUR KIDS WILL EAT WHAT WE EAT
As is with any desired behavior, we have to model the eating habits we want our children to have. We cannot expect them to be adventurous and experiment with foods, if we have a narrow scope. We cannot expect them to eat broccoli if we do not serve and eat it often ourselves.
Admittedly, this is tough because not only are we trying to raise healthy eaters, but as adults, might be trying to break some unhealthy eating habits of our own.
If you've got littles, follow along over the next few posts as the discussion continues. In the meantime, I'd love to hear about the challenges you have encountered on your journey to raising healthy eaters.