It’s time to ring in the new!
From a health counselor perspective, I love this time of year because so many people are eager to make good health a priority in their lives. This comes in many forms- from exercising more, to losing weight, to eating at restaurants less therefore cooking more homemade meals.
Speaking of restaurants, we all know how I feel about kid food, children’s menus, and the endless servings of macaroni & cheese, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, cheese pizza, grilled cheese and french fries. It’s not that I’m entirely opposed to my toddler eating these foods, I just make sure it’s a very rare occasion and not every single day as is the case in most children’s diets.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of feeding kids these foods because it’s convenient and children will actually eat them. But our children are paying the price with their health. The reason 33% of American children are overweight today is not because of excessive food, but because of malnourishment.
The food that you’ll find on most kid’s menus is full of trans fat, fake and processed cheese, factory farmed meat full of antibiotics, and denatured allergy inducing white flour- not to mention not a single fresh fruit, vegetable or whole grain in sight.
Many of us made our own baby food and took great care to feed our children organic and nourishing food, yet let things slip after the second birthday. In fact, one-third of toddlers and 50 percent of preschoolers eat fast food at least once a week. Can you imagine at that moment when you first laid eyes on your perfect newborn thinking, “in a year and a half I’ll be tossing fake food back to you after we hit the drive through.” ??? NO WAY!
But I get it- I totally do. We are tired, and it’s easier to make mac&cheese since you know he’ll eat it, than wash, slice and steam vegetables only to be met with a look of disgust on our toddler’s face. As adamant as I am about my son’s proper nutrition, I have at times felt myself slide into neutral when it comes to meal time, so I know it’s not easy.
I do know that if I have chocolate, ice cream, or juice in the house, my son will beg me for it until I cave. I also know that if I don’t buy it, he won’t have it, and when he’s hungry at the dinner table he has no choice but to eat what I serve. Watching him plow through baked salmon, sauteed kale and brown rice pasta is worth every bit of the preparation.
If you make one resolution this year, I urge you to continue to press on with feeding your children fresh vegetables, fruits, healthy proteins, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole, unprocessed organic dairy products. Keep in mind that research shows that many kids may need to be offered a new food up to 10 times before they’ll eat it. Don’t give up! It really is worth it.