Healthy eating matters whether you are new to this beautiful world, or if you have been around the sun a few times.
In my experience as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and an Early Childhood Educator, I have heard from many parents and educators on the woes of getting children to eat healthily as well as their own personal struggle to do so.
Here are a few of the typical things I hear:
The odds are stacked against me. I feel like I’m competing with bright and colourful marketing in the grocery stores and in restaurants.
Nutrition information can be overwhelming and oftentimes conflicting. I don’t know where to start.
They are just kids! Let them have sugar now because when they get older, they will have to give it up.
While I do acknowledge and accept that these things are true to a certain extent, I also believe that it is well within our scope as adults to help guide our children in their quest to lead happy healthy lives. This starts by encouraging healthy habits, specifically around eating nourishing food.
Three Simple Steps to Encourage Healthy Eating:
- Fruit and vegetables are naturally bright and colourful. Spend most of your money and time in this area of the grocery store. Better yet, go to a local farmer’s market for locally grown options, or try growing our own. Skip the middle aisles of the grocery store altogether and you will skip 80% of the bright and colourful marketing that is often geared towards children. If children don’t see it, they don’t know to ask for it.
- Nutrition information indeed can be overwhelming and conflicting. Keep it simple and stick to whole foods or packaged foods with 5 or fewer items in the ingredient list. Doing this one step will reduce much of the nutrition overwhelm.
- While I would agree that we need to remember to live a little, this doesn’t automatically apply to treating sugary treats as a rite of passage for children. If they don’t have the opportunity to get a taste for refined sugary foods, then they won’t have to, ‘unlearn,’ this craving in the future.
One of the hardest meals to avoid refined sugar is surprisingly, breakfast. Most boxed breakfast cereals, especially the ones that have cartoon characters on them are a smorgasbord of sugar, artificial colours and flavours. Nowhere in my years of nutrition research have marshmallows ever been a good addition to breakfast. Skip the sugary cereal altogether and focus on foods like eggs with tomatoes, avocado and whole-grain toast, plain oatmeal with a little maple syrup, fruit and nuts, smoothies or perhaps plain Greek yogurt with fruit and chia seeds.
Feeling a little adventurous? Why not try my nearly famous recipe for baked oatmeal? I have literally had people stop me on the street to thank me for this recipe after seeing in our local paper. Click here for the recipe.
Healthy eating is one of the best things you can do for your body and your child’s. When we eat well, we feel well. When we eat poorly, we feel it not only in how our stomach feels afterwards but also in how well we sleep, concentrate on tasks and interact with people.