We can agree that one of the toughest battles of parenting is in trying to wean your kids off junk food.
Children usually have an affinity for sweets and sugary substances. And truth be told, those leafy greens and healthy alternatives won’t get them all excited as we expect. While junk food appeals to your kid’s sweet tooth, it’s an enemy to their health. Junk foods have lots of kilojoules yet offer little or no nutritional benefits. This is a result of the unhealthy fats and added sugars packed into them. What’s more? Kids with a regular intake of junk foods have high chances of childhood obesity and, unfortunately, many health complications in the future.
So how then can you avoid this dreary implication? This article will show you practical ways you can apply to get that unhealthy snacking habit out of your kid’s life. We must say that this is no easy task. Weaning your kids off unhealthy eating will be met with much resistance. This is because you would leave a huge void in their eating habits. It is therefore important to present a good alternative. Here are 7 simple tips to help reduce unhealthy snacking in kids and bring in healthier, nutritious foods.
“STILL TO COME: They can also practice little cooking tasks such as measuring out ingredients, cracking eggs, or tossing the salad.”
1. Provide a Healthy and Filling Alternative
It’s not just enough to switch to a nutrient-loaded lunch; you will have to ensure that there are delicious snacks that can be munched on before the next meal comes. A good suggestion could be apple slices with a peanut butter dip or carrot sticks with yogurt. You could also consider dry fruits and nuts. The goal with these healthy delicious snacks is to keep your kid quite full and prevent any binging on any more unhealthy snacks.
2. Keep Training Their Taste Buds
Anyone who wants to get better at something would always have to train. It is the same with switching to healthy eating. You would have to train your kids’ taste buds with different fresh foods, flavors, and textures. Your kids have to get familiar with fresh fruits and veggies as well as whole grains. By doing so, they will be more open to trying out new foods.
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3. Now Is the Best Time to Start
It’s possible you might have missed this window of opportunity with your kids. Not to worry, now is still the best time to start. Try to phase in healthy foods step by step. You can introduce one new food at a time. This will take some resilience on your part but your kids would learn to appreciate it if you present these foods without an unhealthy alternative.
4. Market the Healthy Options
Let’s face it, unhealthy foods are everywhere. From ads and offers to your kids seeing friends or neighbors snacking on them. It’s almost impossible to completely shield them from it. So what can be done? You’d have to become a brand ambassador for healthy foods. Explain the benefits of healthy eating to your kids but be careful not to sound textbook-like. Tell stories of how their favorite superheroes are undefeated because they never snack on candy. Your imagination would be of great help here. Come up with exciting instances of how healthy foods saved the day, etc. This is how you market healthy alternatives to your kids.
5. Enlist Them in Kitchen Duties
Induct your kids into the kitchen by showing what fresh wholesome ingredients look, feel, and smell like before it gets to their plates. They can also practice little cooking tasks such as measuring out ingredients, cracking eggs, or tossing the salad. This will help them to better appreciate the processes that go into preparing healthy foods. It also teaches them from a young age how to handle these foods efficiently. Kids are more likely to eat healthy foods when they are involved in putting together their own lunch boxes.
6. It Begins with You
You have to be a good role model for your child when it comes to healthy eating. The job starts with you avoiding munching on what you’ve labeled as bad for them. Kids take in and practice a lot of things they observe. Hence, you’ve got to set a good example for kids by strictly snacking on healthy options. And if you do slip into snacking on junk any day, it’s best not to allow them to see.
7. Junk Food Shouldn’t Be a Bribe
It is very easy to slip in an unhealthy snack to make your child feel better or as a reward for something good they did. However, your child shouldn’t see calorie-rich unhealthy foods as a reward or feel-good plan. If you do so, they will conclude that such foods are okay to eat as long as they behave themselves.