When it comes to kids’ healthy eating habits, I was lucky, because my children, all three of them, have no issues with eating healthy food. Our children eat healthy food and were never “junkies”. My youngest had a sweet tooth for a while, but as soon as she entered her teen years, with great influence of some of her friends, she switched to cherries and blueberries. I told you I was lucky!
My parents were not that fortunate. All five of their children struggled with our eating habits and with our health. Some of us still struggle as grownups today. As a child, I was on antibiotics for three months of every year until the age of 12. When we were kids, my parents spent many days with us in hospitals and clinics when we got sick.
I was in a hospital once with each of my children and it was a great reminder that I did not want to raise my children to be sick.
Food and health are strongly connected!
It is not what you eat. It is what you buy
Eating disorders are very common today and I have clients who struggle with their kids’ eating habits. Many of them ask me about my own children and I’m happy to share with them how “luck” knocked on my door. Many of them tell me, “Ronit, you are very lucky”.
I know. I am lucky, and you can be lucky too.
Eating habits are no different from any other habits, like manners, communication, determination, creativity, etc. We learn our eating habits from our most important socializing agents: our parents! We do it through modeling and repetition.
Some of my clients say to me, “But I don’t eat sweets. Why is my child so addicted to sugar?”
It is hard to accept that we have brought the sweets home and the fact that we do not eat them gives us no “discount” in the matter. As long as they live in our home and we are the ones doing the shopping, we can take advantage of this and control what they eat by controlling the food we buy.
Learning about healthy food
For years, I did not have any philosophy about food. I ate whatever my parents brought home and when I moved to my own place, I brought home the same things my parents had bought. I remember going to the supermarket and not even looking at the products my parents had not used.
Then, I became a mother and my daughter Eden got sick repeatedly when she was one year old, having pneumonia 4 times over six month and getting six courses of antibiotics. The doctor said she needed an inhaler on a regular basis “for prevention”. Gal and I worried about her health and felt helpless and out of our depth.
One of my friends referred me to a book that changed the way I looked at food. For the first time in my life, I looked at the back of product packaging to see check the ingredients. Until then, I never knew I should.
So my eating philosophy changed from “Eat whatever, whenever, anytime, anything, any quantity, as long as it is familiar” to “Check what your food is made of and prefer healthy food”. Only then, I finally defined “healthy food”.
The first thing we cut out was dairy food. Eden’s symptoms disappeared after three weeks. She is 28 years old now (and about to give birth to her first child and my first grandchild). Since changing her food, she has been sick only once at the age of 16 (she got infected at a swimming pool). She saw the doctor for immunizations and checkups, but managed to avoid him the rest of the time.
After we cut out the dairy, we started cutting out white foods from our diet. No white flour, no white sugar, no MSG, no food colors, no cordial and no soft drinks. Our diet was 75% fruits and vegetables and 10% healthy proteins (eggs, meat and fish) 10% starches (rice, pasta and healthy breads, some of which we made ourselves) and 5% nuts. The best sandwich in the world was whole meal bread with mayonnaise and vegetables.
A healthy future for our kids
It is easy for luck to come and knock on your door when most of the food you eat is fruits and vegetables. When kids eat fruits and vegetables for 75% of their meals, they learn to make great meals with them and enjoy them. When they make their own sandwiches for school, they choose from the variety of food they have at home.
So there you have it, healthy kids with healthy eating habits. If one day, when you go out and they eat the crappiest food there is, you know nothing will happen to them, because their body is strong and can take the occasional dose of junk.
Kids with healthy eating habits grow up to be grownups with healthy eating habits. It is as simple as that. But in order for them to have those habits, they have to have parents with some understanding of healthy eating.
So the first thing you need to know about bringing luck into your life (regarding your children’s healthy eating habits) is to learn about food. There are many sites that can help parents with their food struggles. Healthy Kids is one blog that I really like that helps parents save time, learn about food, get healthy ideas and find great recipes that their kids will like to eat.
Turn your “luck” around
I remember that the first three weeks were hard. We had to think about everything I was buying, but once we narrowed down the list, that was it. The junk did not even get home, so there was nothing to fight. From time to time, we ate outside and let our kids order soft drinks, ice cream, desert and/or sweets (we still do this), while our pantry and fridge stayed clean of them.
The choices are easy to make: salads, cooked vegetables, fruit, healthy proteins and nuts.
If your kids eat junk or fuss over food, turn your “luck” around. We are lucky parents regarding our kids eating habits, because we have made a conscious choice to learn about food and provide that knowledge to our children. You can be this lucky too!
Remember, developing healthy eating habits as children will make sure they will have healthy eating habits as grownups.