Why I don’t nag my kids to eat healthy

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Are you part of the clean-plate club?  Are your kids?  I’m not… I’m actually the opposite.  I read a book when I was in high school about this girl who always left one bite of food on her plate to be ladylike.  She also scooped her soup AWAY from her when she ate it.  I loved those little things, so I’ve always done them.  You can ask Mickey… I always leave at least one bite.  I know it doesn’t make sense, but that’s what I do.

Now that I have kids, I was always telling them “eat your dinner” or “just try it”, but soon I realized that the stress that I was causing them (and me) wasn’t worth it.   When Orlena sent me this post about the same thing that I had been thinking, I new that I had to share it with you…

“As a mom, I know that it can be so difficult to get your kids to eat healthy food.  You offer them carrots, they ask for bread.  You suggest an apple, they ask for cookies.  Like everything parenting, we need to get the balance right.   We want peaceful meantimes, happy faces and kids eating a healthy &  balanced diet.

So what are we to do?

I have the best advice for you today…

1).  LET GO of the stress.   Yes, that’s it.  Stress just makes everything worse. The more you push your kids to eat the more likely they are to fight back. You’ll just end up with stressful and upsetting meal times.

Letting go of stress doesn’t mean feeding your kids lots of junk. It means offering them a healthy diet, but looking at the long term goals rather than the carrot on the fork. (Or the carrot being tossed across the kitchen if you have toddlers.)   Continue to offer them fruits and vegetables at every meal, but don’t fight them on eating everything.

2).  My second best bit of advice is to offer them FAR more fruit and vegetables than you think they’ll eat. If you offer fruit and vegetables frequently, it doesn’t matter so much if they don’t eat them. Chances are they’ll eat some of it at some time and that’s a great start.

3).  Try the “one bite” rule.  They try one bite before they refuse it.  Most kids will do this without a fight.   It’s an easy solution for them and for you.

4).  Offer healthy choices throughout the ENTIRE day.   Here are a few ways to try:

Stewed fruit to go on your breakfast cereal.Dried fruit and nuts with yoghurt for morning snack.Carrot and vegetable sticks with lunch.Cut up fruit with some biscuits for afternoon snack.Veggies on the side with dinner. You might want to offer a variety and expect them not to eat them all.

5).  Talk to your kids about why it is important to eat this way.   Teaching your children to eat healthily is something that takes time and patience, but it’s so worth the effort. Your kids will grow up to love healthy food and they’ll be strong healthy adults with a much higher chance of living a long and healthy life.

Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?


Dr Orlena Kerek is a pediatric doctor and mother of 4 young children. She writes at SnottyNoses about connecting with your kids and teaching them how to live a healthy life, especially healthy eating habits.

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