Let Kids Help
One fantastic way to get your children involved in what they are eating, is to have them help. A great way to start is to let them make up their lunch for the next day. Obviously you will need to set some guidelines. For example, when I turned 9 I was allowed to make up my own lunch. In my girlfriends' houses they were 10 and in some others 11. However, we all felt very important and grown up that we were allowed to make up our own lunch. Again, my mom had certain guidelines. We had to pick a lunch meat, fruit or yogurt and bread to put it on (white, wheat, rye or a roll; today wraps are another alternative). As I got older however, I cut down to a half sandwich as I found I didn't always finish a full sandwich. I continue to eat lunch this way today, a half sandwich and some fruit.
Large meals make people full and sleepy, and they cut down on employee's productiveness. Think of what large meals do to your children at school. We want our children alert so that they can learn, not falling asleep at their desks, so let's keep those lunches on the lighter side. You can do this if you provide them with a good breakfast.
By working beside your children and discussing what they eat for lunch (healthy protein, fruit, veggie and healthy carbs) you are helping them to understand the importance of whole foods and the avoidance of junk foods. You are helping them to learn and make smart informed choices and as they get older these good habits will stay with them. They will learn that these types of food will help them feel better and look better, give them more energy. Try to drop the phrase healthy foods from your vocabulary and let them see that the food choices they are making will help them feel so much better. Put the emphasis on how their body is feeling and all the energy they have rather than "that food is bad for you, why don't you eat this healthy food".
I know of one family that actually had the food pyramid on their bulletin board in their kitchen and it helped them to pick out what foods they wanted. Their mom actually let them help plan not only their lunch meals, but the meals during the week also. Everyone got a chance to decide what to eat on certain nights. Again, however, the caveats were there about food choices. They had to pick a protein, vegetable, carbohydrate and fruit. By keeping the food pyramid handy her kids got to see what was available. I also remember her taking out pictures of the various meats (beef, pork, chicken) so they could see what they looked like. In addition, she had a book available with recipes of chicken and rice, corn beef and cabbage, standing rib roast, etc. The book also had the different kinds of vegetables and recipes for different ways to prepare them. It also included different types of salads, lunch meats, breads and fruits. All of the recipes had pictures of what the food looked like. She usually baked a cake or pie over the weekend and they got to have a dessert other than fruit, Jell-O, pudding or fruit cup on Saturday and Sunday.
Unlike today, when we grew up we played outside, rode our bikes, ran around, roller skated, and the list goes on and on. We didn't have computers or computer games. So in addition to the above healthy eating choices you need to plan some activities for your children today other than the television or video games. This is a topic however, for a future article.
Copyright 2005, DeFiore Enterprises
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