Discussion: How Do You Raise Your Children to be Healthy Eaters?

Weigh in on this week's topic in the comments section below.

Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council will take your questions, give advice and share solutions on parenting topics. And we want all of you moms, dads, grandparents and families to join the discussion too.

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Today's Discussion Topic: How Do You Raise Children to be Healthy Eaters?

When I was a kid, my dad loved to joke that I was not only a member of the Picky Eaters Club, but also the president. There were times when I wasn't allowed to leave the dinner table until I'd eaten my vegetables, and candy and other sweets were limited. At some point I learned that not all vegetables are yucky, and that eating healthy foods makes my body feel stronger.

What are your struggles, successes and stories for getting your children to eat healthy food? Is it a matter of what you stock your refrigerator with, or do you aim to provide healthy meals that also taste great? Where do you stand on eating organic? Do you have conversations with your kids about making healthy choices when they're away from home?  

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Moms Council Member Audra Myerberg Weighs In: 

There are three things that I do not compromise on when it comes to my kids…sleep, education and food. You would be surprised at all of the things that fall under those three subjects. Healthy eating has been a hot topic in the news recently, from Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to Jaime Oliver’s Food Revolution to the organic food movement.

One thing is for sure, parents across the world struggle to get their kids to eat healthy food. I thought about this a lot before I had my children, and decided this was as good a time as any to improve my cooking skills and healthy eating habits. If my children are exposed to healthy food and see me and my husband eating healthy food, we are one step closer to getting them to eat it.

In our home, we buy as much organic as our budget will allow, expose the kids to our local CSA, limit treats (we alternate fruit for dessert with low-sugar desserts because, let’s face it, it’s out there and kids need to learn moderation), eat dinner together every night, bypass fast food restaurants and cook together.

We talk about junk food vs. grow food and how eating too much junk can affect your body. We try lots of new foods and tell the kids unless they at least try it they can’t say they do not like it, and also ask them for their suggestions for menu ideas.

There are lots of great websites out there but one I find helpful is http://kidshealth.org. They have a recipes section that offers ideas for kids with eating challenges too. Our biggest challenge these days are from outside influences (school, play dates, vacations) where the kids see other kids eating poorly and wonder why they can’t have a lollypop for breakfast. That may be a whole other topic for discussion.

Liz Weiss March 09, 2011 at 07:22 PM
As a dietitian and cookbook author, I have lots of realistic tips for raising kids to be healthy eaters. One sure-fire way is to involve children in planning and preparing meals and snacks. Why? Because when they help, they’re more likely to take a few bites We all know that children don’t like being told what to do. That’s why I recommend they help with the planning process as well. Learning how to cook from scratch with real, wholesome foods is as important as learning how to ride a bike, learning how to swim, and learning how to read. It’s an important life skill that can lead to better health over time. When teaching your children how to cook, start with simple skills like whisking the dry ingredients together for pancakes (don’t forget the whole wheat flour) or topping an omelet with shredded low-fat cheese. Progress to fruit smoothies made with 100% fruit juice, low-fat fruited or vanilla yogurt, bananas, and frozen berries, and when kids get older, teach them how to properly hold a knife and to use it! Learning to cook healthy meals will enable kids to nourish themselves when they’re living on their own, and then ultimately nourish their own families. If you happen to have a picky eater at home, remember … picky eating is perfectly normal. Be patient and don’t give up on the healthy stuff! For more on picky eaters, check out my recent blog post on The Science of Picky Eating. http://tinyurl.com/68yh7zf
Summer March 11, 2011 at 11:02 PM
It's important to introduce your kids to healthy foods from an early age and not to let them feel like these healthy foods are any less fun or enjoyable than junk food. I always keep my kids involved in preparing meals and plan healthy menus for the entire week on Sunday. This way we have a great plan to help us get through the week. I also pack my kids' lunches every day using bento boxes which are fun and bright and encourage kids to enjoy what they are eating... even when it's healthy. In addition to being a great product, they also offer a full online menu library: http://www.laptoplunches.com/bento-menus/ and a weekly menu feed through their RSS which is great. Making eating healthy the norm in my family has helped me keep everyone healthy and happy!
Gini Shevrin March 12, 2011 at 08:07 PM
I'm not sure it matters much what we do. I can't say that I paid much attention to exactly what foods I introduced. What I paid attention to was having dinner every day with the kids, for as long as possible, until debate, and youth group, scouts, and life started intervening in the teenage years. Even then, we made a good effort to sit down to dinner. As kids, my children enjoyed a tasty junk food meal on occasion, and chinese takeout more often than I care to remember, and this is what resulted: one vegetarian who will also eat fish and eggs; one organic farmer who enjoys a good steak as long as it was grass-fed and lovingly cared for and killed; and one average consumer. I don't think anything I did impacted their adult decisions.


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