Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Involve your children in making healthy choices

In a world of what to eat and what not to eat we can sometimes lose track of the foods that are really important for good health.  There really should be no perplexity when it comes to eating.  When did it get so confusing?

It saddens me that when my kids ask for a certain food I have to tell them to read the label first.  I have them trained to look for certain “no-no’s” like high fructose corn syrup or partially hydrogenated oils.  Their pleas of, “Come on, mom, just this one time,” sometimes make me want to laugh and sometimes make me want to cry.  As a society how can we produce and mass advertise such unhealthy food products and then wonder why we have the highest rates of diabetes and childhood obesity?

As a parent, and more importantly, as an eater, it is easy to get confused about what products are good for you and what products to avoid.  I basically try to keep it simple.  Here are some of the rules I follow:

1. When grocery shopping stay on the perimeter of the store.  Load up your cart with fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh meats and dairy and stay out of the aisles that contain the packaged and processed foods.  When I go down the aisles it is only to purchase a few products: whole grain breads, pasta, and rice, healthy whole grain cereals and oatmeal, almonds, green tea, and very few other items.

2. Involve your children in making healthy choices.  Yesterday when we went grocery shopping we spent 90% of our time in the produce department and I let my kids choose the fruits and veges they wanted to eat, pick them out, and bag them themselves.  It gave them a sense of pride and involvement and made them not only talk about healthy choices but also want to eat all of the good stuff they picked out!

3. Make each plate you serve be colorful.  You might not think of all the foods you need to eat ahead of time but when you sit down to have a meal look at your plate and ask yourself if it is colorful.  I may give my kids a turkey sandwich for lunch but their plates will also have carrot sticks and red grapes on them.  A spaghetti dinner also includes steamed broccoli, carrots, and fruit.  Even when we order pizza I include carrot sticks and berries alongside the oozing cheese.

I really think we don’t have to make eating so confusing.  Just stick to the basics, make wise choices most of the time, and enjoy eating.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post b/c it's so important to allow children to see where their food is from and to allow them to make choices in the supermarket with our guidance! My oldest and I like to peruse the Trader Joe's aisles and I let her pick things with me! I also love taking her to different markets, including farmer's markets, asian markets, chinese markets, korean markets, and the local meijer's.