Research has shown time and time again (as well as simple common sense!) that proper nutrition is key to childhood development. Yet, while it's easy to agree on this, it's altogether another issue to get kids to actually eat healthy food, much less enjoy doing it. With childhood obesity ticking past the 20% mark in the last few years and seemingly sky-rocketing rates of Type 2 Diabetes at younger and younger ages, this isn't an issue that can go ignored. We know parents want to make it simple for their kids (and themselves) to make healthy choices, so we've gathered several of the top parental recommendations from team members here at House Party. In addition, we've included some of their favorite resources to which they turn to help ensure that the adage "you are what you eat" reflects only the best for their little ones.
Our very own Community Relations Manager, Betsy, suggested that parents try to provide choices for kids, such as one of her family's favorite meals: A make-your-own-salad bar. "At least once a week, our main course is a hearty salad," she says. "Sometimes it's a chef salad where we have a variety of deli meats and cheeses, or taco salad where we have all the fixings. We always have a lot of options to put on salads ranging from julienned veggies (so they're a little easier to eat), to raisins (our kids favorite!), mandarin oranges, pasta, quinoa and the list goes on!" Betsy says that the reason it's such a hit with her kids is that they get to choose what they want to eat (so long as it's from the assembled items), which goes a long way to making mealtime a bit more fun!
Let healthy foods go undercover
Ideally, you want your kids to appreciate healthy foods for what they are, but when that doesn't work there are other methods that you can use to ensure that they're still getting the nutrition of fruits and vegetables that they might not exactly raise their hands gleefully for. Sure, it's a bit deceptive, but you're the parent and you're looking after their well-being. After all, most kids don't ask in-depth questions about the ingredients of what's put in front of them come dinnertime, so if you can sneak the good stuff in - all the better! Jessica Seinfeld (yes, that Seinfeld) made a name for herself with her 2008 "Deceptively Delicious" Cookbook, positioned to help parents with exactly that task: getting healthy ingredients into kids meals without necessarily tipping-off kids gross-healthy food sensors.
Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative
It's a lot harder to eat unhealthy foods if there aren't many to be found at home, so the decision to have a healthy diet is really a family-wide decision (as it should be!) So, eliminate those bags of greasy chips, hidden stashes of candy and backfill those spaces with fruits, vegetables and other complex carbs. Now, we understand that kids will be kids and may find ways to get their hands on candy and junk food while at friend's houses or school, but if you teach them to make healthy choices, a treat will be just that, a once in a blue moon treat.
Our own General Counsel & SVP of Administration, Liz, has a great technique that helps her kids make healthy choices. For example, over the summer, she and her husband will allot extra swim time for extra veggies. She indicated that finding the activities that your kids enjoy and letting them know they can enjoy more time doing them if they'll make sure they're eating healthy snacks and rounded meals is key.
The 10 tries rule
Blog team member Danielle employs a simple and yet stern approach. After reading that people, not just kids, need to try something 10 times before deciding they don't like it, she makes her son repeatedly try foods he doesn't 'like' until this milestone is reached. After all, food is prepared differently and our taste buds certainly evolve, so saying you don't like cheese because you had it once is being short-sighted. And if your child knows they need to try things, it makes them more open to the possibilities.
These are some of our suggestions, what methods do you employ to help your kids keep on the healthy food track?