Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Raising a Healthy Eater ~ Installment 1

I was so excited when Brody was 4 months and our doctor said we could start trying baby food. Every week I tried a different food and was so impressed when Brody liked each kind. I was thrilled he was such an excellent eater. He loved eating the peas as much as the applesauce.

Brody is still a decent eater, but every week I notice he gets a little more finicky. Not only does he hate being spoon fed anymore, he is starting to only pick out the things he likes. Now while sometimes these are still good foods (broccoli, peppers, avocado, fruit) he is starting to refuse meats and proteins. He does love cheese and beans, so he is getting protein there, but besides chicken nuggets he isn’t eating any other type of chicken or meat at mealtime.

This brings me to the question, how can I keep him a healthy eater and stop his bad food habits now?

I have been reading a lot on children’s eating habits, mostly because I want to make sure I raise healthy eaters. I have struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember and I want to make sure my children don’t have the same problem. I can almost trace back to exactly where my eating went wrong (the whole fat free craze in the 90’s, when I thought I could eat as many jelly bellies as I wanted because they were “fat free”) and I can see the things I want to do differently with Brody. Eating habits from your childhood carry over into adulthood, so I want to make sure Brody is establishing healthy eating habits now.

I think one of the problems with Brody is nibbling during the day, so by the time meal comes he is full. This is fully my fault and it just an issue of convenience.
It is easy to be running errands and give Brody a yogurt rice crisp bar (while organic, still not the best option to fill up on), Graduates lil crunchies, and crunchin’ grahams. Then right after our errands, when we go to lunch, Brody just doesn’t want to eat anything else.

So I read an article on children’ s eating habits that said just this: constant crunching (even on healthy snacks) is preventing your child from learning to recognize their own feelings of hunger and fullness, which is an important skill that will make them healthy eaters for life.

So how can I break Brody from this habit?
Here is advice I read & will share with you:

Set a schedule.
Kids thrive on structure and schedules. So try keeping snacks to one mid-morning, one mid-afternoon, and bedtime if they absolutely need it. Also, have your child sitting at the table for these snacks, not always eating on the go.

If they ask for a snack at another time, especially if they just ate, remind them snack time or meal time is coming. If you are not comfortable with this, offer them carrot sticks or another vegetable or fruit to hold them over. If they are truly hungry they will eat their vegetables.

As for protein, it said to include protein and fat into their snacks to keep kids satisfied longer. Try peanut butter on celery or carrots, a slice of cheese melted on whole-grain crackers, or apple slices dipped in yogurt.

And keep the junk out of sight! It’s harder to tell your children no when you have all sorts of goodies sitting out. Keep only healthy snacks in arms reach in your pantry or fridge~ like baby carrots or applesauce.

Well, I will start trying these tips today for Brody (& maybe for myself…) we’ll see how it goes!

What is your child eating?
Does your child have healthy eating habits? Do you?


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