June 22, 2008
Junk Food is Not the Norm
If you're a parent struggling to control your child's penchant for junk food, the following strategies may help.
Keep it small: Be it ice cream, candy, cookies, French fries or a sugary drink, avoid supersized portions.
Stock healthy snacks: To curb your child's appetite for junk food, keep healthy snacks in the house such as cut up fruit and vegetables, hummus, yogurt tubes, whole grain crackers, cheese strings, whole grain muffins and sorbet. Just as kids learn to love the taste of junk food, they can learn to love the taste of healthier foods, too.
Plan alternative activities: If your child reaches for junk food to pass time between meals, have him or her make up a list of activities to do other than eating.
Talk about nutrition: Give children consistent, clear messages about healthy eating to build their nutrition awareness. I'm not suggesting a lecture at every meal, but there's no harm in telling your kids, from time to time, why vegetables and whole grains are good for them.
Explain that it's okay to eat junk food occasionally, but not all the time. It's important for children to know that junk food – despite how prevalent it is – is not considered the norm.
Avoid food rewards: Studies indicate it's unwise to use junk food – or dessert – as a reward for good behaviour because those foods become more desirable.
Get kids cooking: If kids become involved in choosing, planning and preparing meals and snacks, they'll be more interested in what they're eating.
Last and most importanttly...
Be a role model: It's unrealistic to expect kids to eat healthfully if their parents don't. Don't try to be perfect. Just try to squeeze in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and even exercise – and limit the quantity of the empty-calorie foods. If you don't want your child to become fixated on junk food, don't let it become a focus of your diet.
Posted by Lisa at June 22, 2008 7:03 PM
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