One topic hit hard was that the number one chemical stressor for kids and adults alike is processed food. I volunteered in my undergraduate days in a Nutrition Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital educating parents what type of changes need to be made for kids to eat well. Majority of the time both parents wanted to help their kids lose weight and eat better but just didn’t have the time. When both parents are working full time trying to make ends meet the last thing that is on their mind is nutrition. I mean I’ve been there, coming home from a long day at work and then have to stand and cook a nutritious meal fast because everyone is hungry. So, what do most parents do? Either they bring take out, resort to frozen food, or other prepared foods.
Even when you go grocery shopping the aisles are filled with lots of brightly colored boxes displaying favorite cartoon characters or promising a toy inside. All of these companies know how to properly market their products and they do that by targeting the future generation. Look at McDonald’s who has a mascot of a clown and gives toys in their kid’s meals. As a result, we have a rise in obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Watch Jaime Oliver's video below how chicken nuggets are made from these surprising ingredients versus real chicken. Which one do you think kids choose to eat?
5 WAY TO ENCOURAGE HEALTHY EATING HABITS
1. Educate. Teach your kids by talking and reading books about vegetables and fruits. Teach them why it's good for our bodies. Just like plants need sun, soil, and water to grow our bodies need the proper nutrients to grow such as vegetables. My little one is in his super hero stage and loves hulk. He always wants to be big and strong like him so I tell him the truth how to grow by eating his vegetables. We read a fun book by Usborne books called "The Secrets in the Vegetable Garden" and I highly recommend it because it is interactive. I read and then my toddler can shine a flashlight to discover hidden vegetables.
2. Learn to stand your ground. This is a tough one. When my son was starting solids I introduced all of the vegetables I could think of and he loved them. Then he hit toddler stage and became a picky eater, still loving his vegetables but only some. I realized that if he will be hungry he will eat. Snacks weren't allowed until he ate his food. Every day when I packed his lunch with veggies they would still come back home, until one day he just ate everything and asked for more. It's all about standing your ground as a parent and not giving in.
3. Pack Healthy Snacks. Weekends were always are hardest because we were out and about exploring so we would get hungry. Bring snacks and lunch with you. If you know you will be out for a long time then make a picnic out of it and bring healthy food with you. Our little one didn't mind and always asked for more picnics. When we would come home I would be exhausted that we would have to struggle with dinner options. So I usually cook food on Friday night to last us through the weekend or put on the instant pot on Saturday morning and our dinner will be done by the time we get home.
4. Encourage them to cook with you. We have the most fun cooking as a family. Yes it may take longer but it is so worth it. Weekdays I keep it simple and let my little one help me make smoothies. Isn't it more fun to drink or eat what you made yourself? Kids love it!
5. Lead by example. Kids are super smart and they watch your every move. If you want them to eat something then eat it yourself first. You can't force a child to eat vegetables if you don't eat them as well. There are so many fun recipes to make vegetables delicious! Our most favorite is Borscht (Russian Beet Soup) which you can find a super simple recipe in Lala's Kitchen or by clicking here. My toddler loves it and it is loaded with vegetables! Win Win!
My three favorite kitchen items to keep my family eating healthy are below! Check them out. I would love to hear what your favorite kitchen essentials are to cook healthy! Comment below:)