Kids, can we talk about food?

Can you talk to your children about why they should eat nutritious food and become more interested in their health? Pleading with them to have fruit instead of fries with their grilled cheese, or bribing them with ice cream if they finish their chicken and broccoli, is not only frustrating but not very effective.

Can you engage your kids in a dialogue instead, about why THEY would benefit from healthy eating? Not a long scientific debate about HDL vs. LDL cholesterol levels, or give them a “fear factor” speech about the dangerous rise of Type 2 diabetes in grammar school aged children, but an actual conversation about WHY you would like them to drink water instead of soda, or have a salad with their cheeseburger.

Kids are smarter than we often give them credit for. Hearing about how they can increase their endurance, and race time, during swim season if they eat a “good lunch” with lean protein, fats, whole grains and fruit, or that they will score better on their algebra exam after having a “real” breakfast instead of a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, makes a more lasting impression than you may realize. Throw in a quick mention of how their mood (and overall “happiness”) will improve, their skin will glow, and they will have more restful sleep based on WHAT they are putting into their bodies, and your teenagers will hooked. Maybe help them a little in the morning by filling a big bottle of cold lemon water for them to take to school, to dissuade them from stopping for an iced coffee or a Snapple.

No one likes feeling “dictated” to, young or old. Having an open dialogue with your family about how you can ALL make healthier choices, and giving them some concrete ideas to work with, is my best advise for success. When your child comes home from school “starving (!)” and asks what there is to eat, maybe suggest an apple with peanut butter and some whole wheat crackers. Help steer them in the right direction, and when they suggest you buy Doritos “like at their friends’ houses”, resist the urge to lecture…and join them for a healthy snack!

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