Although you may be fighting an uphill battle, getting your kids to love and appreciate whole foods isn’t impossible. Here are Nestle’s top tips for raising healthy eaters:
1. Practice what you preach. The best way to ensure your children don't subsist on chips and chicken nuggets is to avoid eating junk yourself. The occasional trip to the ice cream shop is one thing, but if you regularly indulge in empty calories, you can’t blame your child for wanting to do the same. "Try to maintain a junk food-free home,” says Nestle, “And make a point to emphasize that this is the way 'our family' eats."
2. Know what you’re up against. No matter how much produce you pack in your fridge, your children are going to be inundated with the message that cheese puffs are more fun than carrots. "It’s not that junk food companies are evil,” says Nestle. “They’re just in business and their business is to sell snacks, and if they don’t market to kids, they can’t sell. It’s as simple as that." Nestle calls for more government regulation to curb kid-targeted ads for processed foods and urges parents to do the same. In the meantime, give yourself a break if raising healthy foodies is easier said than done.
3. Make food fun. Competing with fairytale princesses and larger-than-life superheroes can be tough, but making food lessons an enjoyable part of your children’s lives can get them on your side and help them establish lifelong healthy habits. “Talk to your kids about food, show them how to read food labels, and teach them where their food comes from,” advises Nestle. “Oh, and teach them how to cook!” (Get started with this family-friendly homemade granola bar recipe).
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