Carrots, green beans and corn. It’s not that my parents didn’t try… they did their absolute best. But somewhere along the line I decided that I didn’t like veggies and having a sweet tooth was much more satisfying anyway.
There was a time, when I was about 4 years old, when I cried my eyes out at the dinner table to get out of eating my peas. My parents were so sick of my loud cries that they sent me straight to my room.
Four-year old Renee was thinking… Yes! No peas for me! My sister, on the other hand, didn’t cry and was forced to sit there and eat her peas… she still laments about this today.
But I was onto something…
Make a big stink, cry and whine over here and over there distract from the main idea. It was like magic…
Has your child ever done this to you? They have caused such a scene about eating that “yucky” food that you sent them to their room or just gave up altogether?
I have 9 ideas that will help you with this. I’m about to get to them…
If you are a parent, and your kiddo is a sweet tooth junkie like I was, I want to remind you to do your best and most importantly…
Lead by example. You never know… they could turn things around like I did and end up becoming uber excited about veggies and teaching nutrition. No one in my life would have ever imagined this would be my career choice back then.
They may turn out to be highly addicted to sugar and end up obese, sick and on the path to heart disease and cancer.
(Terrible thought, but let’s face it… based on stats, there is at least a 60% chance of one of those things happening).
By the way, I was also really addicted to sugar for over two decades too and headed down a dark black unhealthy hole because of it.
Everything going on with their eating is perfect right now.
I had different kinds of shake ups along the way that finally got me eating well and listening to my body. You did too and you might still be having some shake ups… Your kids will have similar circumstances that mold and shape them.
This isn’t a blog post about what to stop feeding your child. I don’t need to tell you about how soda literally changes the hormones in our bodies and causes major health issues because you already know that it’s a poison. I don’t need to explain to you the amount of unknown ingredients and sugars that are in processed foods that kids eat everyday. You know this too.
And if you are anything like me, you are sickened and appalled by the way our children are fed in schools.
Here is what you need to do.
You really need to let your child’s health play out organically while you lead them. You cannot control everything and you know what…?
You really have to let the guilt go about what you may or may not have done in the past. You can’t do anything about it now.
Now that you are here, though, there are 9 major ground rules to get your kids eating veggies because it is so important to their happiness.
1) Get your healthy act together! If you are guzzling down soda and your plate doesn’t look like a rainbow of goodness regularly then you can’t expect your child to be on board either. Change your habits, first and foremost!
2) Empower your kids to make the choices themselves. You never want to tell a child what to do because they will almost always say no. Offer them 2 options and then get their opinion or empower them to choose. Example: “Manny, can I get your opinion? Do you think these carrots would taste better dipped in sunflower butter or peanut butter? Could you be my special taste tester?” If that doesn’t work…. cut a raisin in half and make little eyes on the carrot dipped in nut butter. Make it fun. Think: “ants on a log“
3) Feed them local vegetables. In comparison to local veggies from a farmers market or your garden, grocery store veggies taste yucky. They lack flavor, depth and nutrients. If you want your kids to like veggies, take them to a farm or market and eat them local. The difference is unparalleled. They are likely cheaper too.
4) Teach kids about the food and where it comes from. Little boys love a battle to win and little girls want to be saved from the evil witch. In either case, you need a villain. In this case, the villain is big corporate farming. Our kids need to learn about sustainable farming. For example, you need to teach your children that feeding cows corn makes the cows sick and therefore creating an environment for ecoli in their belly. Then causing the cows to need antibiotics. Sharing this isn’t politics. This is fact about a cows belly having a rumen which can digest grass and grains. No need to preach; you share this with “a-matter-a-fact” approach and watch your children want to fight for what is “right”.
5) Teach them how their taste buds work. Did you know that it is recommended that you have children try a food at least 17 times before you can tell if they actually really like it? The earlier in life a child eats something the more they expand their palette. The more sugar they are given, the more that palette is numbed out. Tell them this! At around age 7 those taste buds evolve again. Don’t force them and avoid serving the same veggie every day. Be patient and have a variety of colors, veggies and ways in which you cook things.
Example: “Manny (4 years old), I know it seems like you don’t like the taste right now, but your taste buds just haven’t grown fully to really taste it like I do. As long as you try a bite, you are growing those “tasters strong”.
6) Be honest about your own learning while still parenting them with strong boundaries. I have learned not to force things or try to control. There are consequences, however, to not eating veggies… no snacks or treats and you must stick to your guns! If you give in, then you have lost the battle and they won’t forget it. That battle could take a week or more to master again…
Example, my son knows he must always finish his breakfast. No breakfast, then the consequence is no special treat in his lunch box.
7) Grow food with them. Have a small pot or garden and grow some tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce or zucchini. Get them involved and I promise they will want to eat what they watched grow up. There is nothing better.
8) Speak to them in words they understand. The last thing you want to say to your child is that “it’s healthy for you, eat it”. They don’t care about or understand what “healthy” really means like you do and for many of us, the context of that statement is loaded with fear and shame around our weight gain or issues.
Example: Eating your spinach gives you really strong muscles and makes you run faster on the playground. Drinking that green monster smoothie makes you happy and smarter and I hear that it only brings around friendly monsters. Eating your carrots helps you have super hero strength so when lots of other kids get a runny nose and cough you might not (“carrots help you see in the dark” …this is technically NOT true!)
9) Have them help you in the kitchen. When children are involved, they will want to taste the finished product. Have them take grapes off the vine, take the tops of strawberries or show them how to peel a cucumber.
PS. As you know, it starts with you. Wouldn’t it help if you weren’t falling prey to those cravings that suck you in and then make you feel guilt and shame after devouring them? Are you ready to understand how to take action and shatter those cravings and turn your body into a fat burning machine…? If this is you, then you don’t want to miss this free call I’m hosting. It’s my gift to you so register for it here.