Friday, April 22, 2011

Creating Healthy Eating Habits

I am really excited about this new little series. I am extremely passionate about nutrition and children! It is too important not to be passionate about! :) 

Here are some simple ways I have found to help my boys. 

Make Eating at Home Fun

The more involved the kids are in the preparation of eating, the shopping for the food, etc. the better. I could definitely see a family ritualistically making dinner together as a team. This could be very fun, telling the kids to pick out the music (with a no-Bieber rule on hot dog night of course) or do role playing with little waitress outfits, making menus on the computer, or whatever else you can think of to get everyone involved. If it is not a routine, it will be work and a major drag to put down the video game controller to come make dinner. But if it is routine and the kids are actively learning and growing with their knowledge of food and cooking they are more likely to become well-connected to it. Of course, you have to really assess this for yourself. You don’t want it to become a chore or this concept will totally backfire. 


This is unfortunately not a war many will win, and this is potentially more important for overall physical, social, and psychological well-being than any other modern thing we face. Not only are there endless images showing kids having a great time eating junk food, but there is an avalanche of messages designed to make us feel bad about our bodies, endless messages showing kids that dieting is cool, fun, and improves life, and more including the general idea that animal fat is going to kill you. Statistics show stronger correlations between hours of tv watched and childhood obesity than any other lifestyle factor – and most dietary factors as well.

Never Limit Macronutrients or Calories

Putting your kid on a low-carb, low-fat, or calorie-restricted diet is the dumbest thing ever. I don’t know any severely obese individuals, or people with eating disorders that didn’t start dieting in some shape, form, or fashion at a young age. Restricted and restrained eating, especially for a young person, is very dangerous. Many kids, like myself, lose excess fat upon hitting puberty anyway – just in time because my retarded family doctor had just given me the “cut out snacks” speech for being in the very high percentiles of weight for an 11-year old. Trying to impose a diet on a young kid is like giving a 13-year old breast implants because she’s not developing quite as quickly as her friends. If you want your kids to have emotional issues with their bodies, practice the famous starve and binge approach to healthy eating, and develop life-threatening conditions from it long-term, then, by all means, put them on a diet immediately.

Never Push Certain Foods

When a strange new food gets pushed towards a young kid, that food gets pushed right back at ya. I would suggest cooking a wide variety of foods in the home from the time the kid is very young and let them develop their own curiosity about those foods at their own pace. Remember, they know better than you do what is good for them. I mean seriously, how many times have we, as adults, been totally wrong about “the healthy way to eat?” It’s best to do what you can to help the intelligence of their bodies come forward without any interference, including keeping chemically-enhanced and highly-refined and sweetened foods out of their diet until they have developed a wide variety of preferences for various real foods (like, say, until age 4). 

Give Them Real Food

It’s always great to have a nice spread laid out for kids consisting of real food that tastes good. By real food I mean things that don’t contain white flour, white sugar, corn syrup, chemical flavor enhancers, or otherwise refined or packaged foods. A parent’s prime food duty is to have healthy food available to eat, with very little, if any, junk available to eat in the home. Junk foods pervert natural taste and reward centers, making wholesome food bland and uninteresting. The most important thing, as mentioned above, is that if you are going to be a food Nazi, do so for the first 3-4 years of the kid’s life before they become exposed to the outside food world. This builds a great template for good health and a more likely preference for real food. 

Breast Feed Your Kids

Eat lots of wholesome food without macronutrient or calorie restriction yourself, and breastfeed your kids. Obviously the longer the better, but we all have lives to live. Infant formula is pure death as far as I’m concerned (speaking from experience) unless your own nutrition is so poor that you just can’t produce good milk. 


You want to serve up great homemade food that becomes favorites over the competition. You don’t want to reinforce the idea that there are forbidden foods to be strictly avoided and make food the place where they express feelings of rebellion.

Obviously there are some lessons in here for us big kids as well.

1 comment:

  1. I wanted to let you know that I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. =)


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