There are several factors at play when you find yourself frustrated about how to make your child interested in nutrition.
Candy and sugar-laden drinks can be pretty appealing to those tiny little taste buds. Fast food restaurants have some cool, trendy trinkets that your child doesn’t need, but it’s a toy! Now add in greasy foods like chips and pizza, and I may even be starting to tempt you, too. And let’s never underestimate the power of marketing. They make some of the most disgusting foods on the planet look fun.
Since there are so many things that we don’t have control over, we can only focus on what we do have control over.
Let’s start with the parent who has a child without any special dietary restrictions.
You have a lot more control over this than you realize. You buy the groceries. You cook their meals, and you have veto power at the restaurants. But most importantly, you have a voice. Setting the tone. Discuss why organic foods are preferred, how to treat ailments holistically through nutrition, or why certain “foods” should be avoided. This should be a natural, ongoing conversation – not a lesson plan. And it doesn’t work if you tell them one thing, and they see you do the other.
If you can have a cookie, why can’t I? I want a cookie, too. (Credibility – out the door!)
So here are a few tips to help you.
So what if you have a child with medical concerns?
Whether they are diabetic or celiac, whatever their situation, I’m sorry to say that you will need to go the extra mile.
Here are the four most important things to remember.
When we have those little bundles of joy, they are completely defenseless. We can gradually allow them to do things as they get older when we feel comfortable that they can be trusted and are ready. It’s okay to say to your child, “This is new. Until we all know more or have a handle on this, I want you to only eat at home (or only pack your meal).”
Talk to them. Share your concerns. And remember that you are the parent. You aren’t asking because this isn’t an area they have that choice. But be considerate of the fact that this transition may be incredibly difficult for them. It is your job to get them through this time as swiftly and painlessly as you possibly can. Make sure that they understand that you will work with them, but you are still in charge. Plan out as many ways as you can to give them as much freedom as you are comfortable with.
And at some point, remember to set them free. You taught them everything you could. They know you will always be there for them. Show them and remind them of that often. Ultimately, we each have our mistakes to choose for ourselves. And many of us choose to eat unhealthy foods or not exercise or not manage our health as well as we should. They have that right, too.