9 Ways to Get Kids on Board With Healthy EatingWritten by karen
One of the most frequent questions I hear in my work with moms, as they begin to change their nutrition and the food their family is eating is this:
"How to I get my kids to EMBRACE healthy eating? They often rebel, wanting the junk their friends have instead! I am tired of the fight!"
I hear you! I've been there and truth be told: I am still there sometimes...when my kids ask for oreos "because my friends get them" or soda "because everyone else gets to drink it." Or when we go to the beach and they want ice cream every night (oh, wait, is that me???) Ugh!
Although of course, it would be EASIER for me if they JUST STOPPED ASKING (right? I mean, really, don't they KNOW that stuff is bad for them?!), I realize that that is truly not the goal. They are allowed to ask and I am allowed to say "I love you and the answer is no." (And of course, I can say yes sometimes too - more on that in a minute)
BUT - and hear this - saying NO and being controlling are two very different things.
Saying NO without empathy, compassion, understanding and validation is more likely to cause REBELLION and SNEAKING and DIS-CONNECTION between us and that is not what I want.
So here are a few ideas that may help you as you weave your way toward greater health - and EASE - with your family:
1) Remember that every behavior is RIGHT. Meaning: there is a good reason your child is rebelling or rejecting your offerings, even if it doesn't seem like a good reason to you. (Thanks to Marc David, my teacher at The Institute of Psychology of Eating for this)
3) Validate her needs and empathize with her feelings. For example: "I can see that when I serve you this salmon salad and seaweed, you feel weird next to your friends" OR "I can imagine that it would be hard not to have soda when all your friends seem to get it. That sounds hard." (Don't just say the words - really feel it).
5) Consider UPGRADING her favorites to healthier options. (this is my VERY favorite trick: I LOVE creating healthier cookies, lemonade, pancakes, soda, brownies, muffins, chicken fingers, and so on). Healthy food does NOT have to be boring and dull.
6) Recognize that if she is having serious sugar or processed carby cravings, there may be something biochemical or physical going on for her. Understanding how this may be affecting her will be helpful in knowing how to address it on this level.
7) Let go a little if you know you are being a little controlling. This doesn't mean buying foods you aren't comfortable buying, but it may mean letting her choose when she eats treats or giving her a variety of options to choose from.
8) Recognize that you can't MAKE anyone do anything. The more you PUSH, the more she is likely to PULL. Human nature. You are better off talking less about the changes she "needs to make" and instead, having more fun with food and inviting her into the decision-making process.
9) Recognize too that although you may be able to choose what you buy, you ultimately can not choose how she decides to take care of her body. Gently teaching her about caring for her body (not just with food), helping her tune into her body (what does it FEEL like?), and letting her know her body is worthy of love and respect.
10) Look at yourself. Do you have this INTERNAL struggle sometimes? (Part of you wants to be healthy and another part of you wants ice cream? Yeah, me too). It's OK. Develop compassion for your own desires and needs and find a way to work with them that satisfies both your wish to be healthy AND your wish to have more YUM in your life. Once you get this yourself, you are more likely to experience more compassion, connection and ease with your children.
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