It's called "junk" food for a reason. Nutritionally, it is lacking, but taste wise, it makes for a can't stop won't stop
mentality. And while us adults have the right to decide what goes in our bodies, because we've been well-educated on the pros and cons of every individual morsel out there, kids are constantly learning, and most of the time, sort of oblivious to what being healthy
really means. So do we cut our kids off from ever experiencing what a cheese puff is, because they don't need to be begging us for something that they'll never benefit from anyway?
Just like with strict diets that leave adults feeling deprived of guilty pleasures and later binge eating at 2am when they can't sleep, keeping your kids from the knowledge of and the taste of junk food may only lead them to overindulge in it at school, at friends' houses, and other places where you are not there to monitor their intake. And the same goes for nutritional options. If we treat peas and carrots as foods they must ingest, they are more likely to associate vegetables with a parent's order, as opposed to a tasty treat they yearn for.
Here are six ways to set your kids up for healthy habits.
1. Eat healthy the majority of the time.
Everything in moderation makes way for healthy habits. If you give your children well-balanced meals and snacks 80 percent of the time, you should allow them to see guilty pleasures as something that is not off limits, but that is not a core component to a healthy lifestyle.
2. Wake up and smell the fruit.
If the first thing you give your child is a processed bowl of cereal, their taste buds may continue to crave the same thing as the day unfolds. Start them with a natural source of sugar, like fruit.
3. Talk about it.
Try to incorporate the benefits of the good stuff you're giving your kids without overwhelming them. Make discussing the nutrients in vegetables conversational, while at the same time allowing them to enjoy their food without you giving them a play-by-play of how their bodies are processing it.
4. Cook at home on a regular basis.
If eating out or frozen meals are the norm, kids will never know the time, the effort and the love that goes into cooking. They'll also never be able to distinguish the difference between what good food and junk food is. Set standards for them, so that they appreciate the values of eating well with the people they love. This will give them less of a reason to want junk food for dinner.
5. Present tasty treats that aren't junk.
Let your kids know that not all treats are created equal. There are, in fact, treats made from home with quality, unprocessed ingredients. Show your kids the difference between an Oreo and a homemade cookie, and you'll be happy to find that they'll opt for what's real most of the time.
6. Set them free.
Don't warn your child of the dangers of eating Doritos at their friend's house. You really can't control what they eat when you're not around, so as long as you've created healthy mindsets and boundaries for them to come home to, you should allow them to indulge so they don't overdo it.
What additional tips do you think could allow children to not crave junk food on a regular basis?
Source: Mind Body Green
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