Healthy eating habits are hard to come by. For anybody. We lucked out because our 3 year old son, Ethan is “currently” a fantastic eater. When we go to the market he almost always heads to the produce section tries to grab a head of broccoli straight off the shelf and eat it, raw, like he’s eating an ice cream cone. He does that with apples too. We’ve grown accustomed to wiping down an apple for him first order of business entering a grocery store and then having him sit in the cart and chow down while we shop. It’s actually pretty amazing and quite hilarious. I realize that this is kind of luxury and we will probably always have to grapple with him over eating THIS and not THAT… BUT we do work pretty hard at influencing, supporting and encouraging healthy eating habits….
- We lead by example. We eat pretty well ourselves. We eat fast food pretty much never. We order pizza from time to time but stuff like McDonalds and Jack in the Box is not for us and (right now)not or him. Dessert or the tendency to WANT some dessert is always a challenge. If we are craving something sweet or NOT so healthy, we don’t ever eat it in front of him. If we have dessert, we partake after he goes to bed. We keep a box of graham crackers in the pantry so if we really get stuck we let him have a graham cracker. We definitely have to sell him on the idea that a graham cracker is WAY BETTER than cake, or pie, or ice cream.
- We don’t EVER say anything negative about food. ALL FOOD is tasty and delicious. If you don’t have anything positive to say don’t say anything at all. If you have a young child then you know that he/she can and will absorb, process and respond to even the most microscopic elements of your communication. Try not to teach your child to
- We are very careful with what kinds of foods we introduce to Ethan and when. This is the hardest part because it’s difficult to avoid certain things but the longer you can keep cookies, cake, fries and chicken nuggets off your toddlers radar, the easier it is to keep them focused on healthier options. I swear every time he tries something not-so-healthy… like candy… some wonderful healthy food gets dropped off of his active roster (Like KALE. He used to eat raw kale like it was candy. That stopped happening after he met French fries. French fries kind of rocked his world).
I know it’s hard. It can be a huge challenge to constantly make healthy choices for yourself let alone battle it out with your child over what the kid should and shouldn’t eat. And hey, you win some you lose some. But don’t give up. An easy thing to remember is that whole foods…. minimally processed foods are the way to go. If Ethan wants a snack I give him raw cashews instead of chips. He eats frozen peas and corn out of a ziplock bag when we are driving to school of the park. Make eating fun. It’s crucial to mental and physical development. If nothing else, keep trying to nurture a positive relationship with food and you guys will be fine.