Exposing & Explaining: Tricks to Healthy Snacking Habits

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Did you know 25% to 33% of daily energy intake among adolescents is from snacking? That’s a pretty big part of their diet! With childhood obesity rates growing each year, it is the parents’ duty to educate and teach their children healthy eating habits. Let’s face it, packaged snacks are EASY! Most of them are cheap too, which doesn’t make it any easier to not buy that pack of Oreo’s your kids are pulling on your pant leg for. Unfortunately, most packaged snacks and products are extremely processed and have no nutritional value. How do we get our kids to want good snacks, like fruit and veggies, and not want the bad stuff, like chips and cookies?

The trick to getting our children to become healthy snackers is something I like to call Exposing & ExplainingE&E has worked for me many times in the past (it even works on adults!) and is so simple to do, that you’re probably thinking “Wow, that’s it?”. Yes, yes it is. A lot of us adults know a decent amount of nutritional information, and if we don’t know something then we can just look it up on the internet. The point is, we are educated and know an apple is better for you than a bag of chips. But you’re children might not!

1: Exposing: Let your children know what a Big Mac is, what a Twinkie is, what a bag of cheese puffs are. If you as a parent show your children all sides of the food industry, they won’t be as curious as if they did not know what something was. Chances are they are going to be invited to birthday parties where chips, cupcakes, pizza, candy etc. are available. The chances of them choosing to eat those foods go way down if they already know what they are vs. a child who has no idea what a Laffy Taffy is. I’m not saying to feed your kids these foods, but just to expose them and get them familiar with what we have available on this planet. Take the curiosity away!

2: Explaining: Once that curiosity is gone, just briefly tell your kids why that food is “icky”, unhealthy or why we don’t like it. Refrain from using the term “bad”, because you want them to make their own decision on why the food isn’t good for them. Categorizing a food as “bad” lets them know it isn’t good, but it doesn’t tell them WHY. For example, if I was trying to get a child to choose an apple over chips I would first tell them I don’t eat chips because I don’t know where they come from, and are made with chemicals my body cannot digest. Then I would ask them back: Would you want to eat something that was made with chemicals? Putting it in a question makes the child think and decide for themselves. State basic facts as to why things are healthier than others, rather than just saying this is healthy/not healthy.

Simple, right? That’s what I thought. Give it a try and let us know how it goes! Healthy snacking habits are only an E&E away!

Written by: Leana Varvella

Photo Credit: puregreencoffeeinfo.com

How To Get Your Kids Excited About Eating Healthy

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With the school year getting ready to kick off yet again, it is important to get the kids back into the swing of healthy eating after a summer filled with BBQ’s, play dates, birthday parties, and vacation meals.  Here are a few tips to make getting those fruits and veggies back into the routine less stressful and more enjoyable!

  • Have regular family meals. Knowing dinner is served at approximately the same time every night and that the entire family will be sitting down together is comforting and enhances appetite. Breakfast is another great time for a family meal, especially since kids who eat breakfast tend to do better in school.
  • Cook more meals at home. Eating home cooked meals is healthier for the whole family and sets a great example for kids about the importance of food. Restaurant meals tend to have more fat, sugar, and salt. Save dining out for special occasions.
  • Get kids involved. Children enjoy helping adults to shop for groceries, selecting what goes in their lunch box, and preparing dinner. It’s also a chance for you to teach them about the nutritional values of different foods, and (for older children) how to read food labels.
  • Make a variety of healthy snacks available instead of empty calorie snacks. Keep plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grain snacks, and healthy beverages (water, milk, pure fruit juice) around and easily accessible so kids become used to reaching for healthy snacks instead of empty calorie snacks like soda, chips, or cookies.
  • Limit portion sizes. Don’t insist your child cleans the plate, and never use food as a reward or bribe.

 

How To Introduce Solids To Picky Eaters

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Introducing solids into your toddler’s diet can be both frustrating as they tend to be fussy and resistant to trying new foods whether it is due to flavor, color, or texture.  Here are a few tips to help things run smoothly during this transition!

  • Structure your child’s eating so that they have three regular meals a day and two healthy snacks in between meals.  Making sure your child has set meal and snack times will help ensure they are eating when hungry while also avoiding grazing, which can cause children not to eat at meals times.
  • Serve a variety of good foods for your toddler to eat at each meal. When you offer a new food, simply place it on your child’s highchair tray without making a big deal about it. 
  • Introduce new foods one at a time and in small amounts. Instead of an entire meal of unfamiliar foods, offer a few of their favorite items with one new item. 
  • Try to schedule a new food when you know your child is hungry.
  • Use toddler-size portions. A serving size for a toddler is about 1/4 of a single portion for an adult. A serving of meat for a 1-year-old is about the size of the palm of their hand, and a serving of vegetables is only about 1 or 2 tablespoons.
  • Understand that some children’s palates are more sensitive than others. Some simply won’t like the texture, color, or taste of certain foods. That’s why a child might claim to dislike a food she has never even tried. Some children may reject a food because it reminds them of a time when they were sick or because they have some other negative association with it.
  • Resist the urge to offer sugary foods in an effort to get your toddler to eat more. You want to develop their sense of culinary adventure, not their sweet tooth!
  • Minimize distractions at the table. If a sibling is running around nearby or a cartoon beckons from across the room, your toddler may lose interest in the food being served. Try to make meals relaxed and quiet.