It’s the dreaded scenario. You’re at the checkout line at the grocery store, about to make a clean break for your car, when you look down and realize the little one has a firm hold on a candy bar.
And guess what? He’s Not. Letting. Go.
How many parents in similar situations have been held hostage with the threat of an epic meltdown or temper tantrum? It’s a scene all too often repeated that makes even the best intentions to promote good eating habits fly out the window in a heartbeat.
It’s no wonder the intersection between nutrition and parenting can be really tricky territory to navigate. It can seem like a constant battle of the wills. But before you throw in the towel, remember that building good lifelong habits when it comes to eating doesn’t have to be an insurmountable task.
Lead by example.
When it comes to food, the whole “do as I say not as I do” philosophy doesn’t apply very well. Parents have to lead by example when it comes to nutrition. Start by looking at your own diet. Don’t create a double standard in your household when it comes to eating healthy. If everyone is in the same boat, it’s easier to avoid tension when it comes to food.
Allow limited treats.
Minimizing treats and junk food is great, but outlawing them altogether can have unintended consequences. After all, creating ‘forbidden foods’ can transform something desirable into something even more irresistible! As long as your kids are enjoying fresh, healthy food most of the time and have an active lifestyle, treats don’t have to be completely off the table. You can also replace store bought junk food with homemade treats. Baking sweets with organic and natural ingredients can be a great way to spend time together!
Keep healthy food on hand.
Kids are busy, too. A lot of times, the easiest and quickest food choices are also the least healthy. Creating healthy snack options is just as important as making healthy meals. Right after school is a great time to introduce some healthy snacks. Kids are hungry and looking for whatever is readily available. Try having a platter of fresh fruit or vegetables ready as an after school snack. It takes just a few minutes of prep time and can provide a couple of servings of fruits and veggies for the day!
Finally, remember that kids need boundaries but also responsibilities. Even young children can be very sophisticated when it comes to knowing how food affects their own bodies. Empower them with knowledge about food and then allow them to make their own choices. They won’t always put the candy bar back, but when they do, they’ll be doing it for reasons all the right reasons; reasons that will follow them into adulthood!