Moms’ tips on healthy family diet

January 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, OBESITY

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It is not always easy to convince kids to eat fruits and vegetables. Every day, they may be bombarded with media images of junk food such as chips, fries, sweets and soft drinks that they really can’t imagine these food stuffs can be hazardous to their health.  No wonder childhood obesity is becoming a major problem in most developed countries.

As parents, we have to think of creative ways and means of steering our kids towards a healthy diet. And steering means without force or undue pressure, but rather implementing some changes gradually, changes that will eventually be part of their daily routine. Mothers are especially creative when it comes optimizing the family nutrition.

Here are some ways some mothers xxx:

New York Nutritionist Joy Bauer is the author of the book Your Inner Skinny and has 3 children.  She recommends  (source: USA Today):

“You can sneak in modifications, and children won’t even realize they’re practicing more healthful eating habits.”

As an example, she got her kids to drink less soft drinks and more water by using fun water bottles. Another way is to mix seltzer water with a short of unsweetened juice. This way, the bubbles make the water more palatable. Other suggestions from Bauer:

•Think low-fat. Buy low-fat 1% or skim milk, low-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat cheese instead of the full-fat versions. With cheese, get the same color and type the kids like so they don’t notice the difference.

•Make substitutions. Use lower-fat ground turkey instead of high-fat ground beef in recipes for tacos, meat loaf, chili and other dishes.

•Push veggies. Place a bowl of vegetables such as broccoli, snap peas, cucumbers or carrot sticks on the table before meals. “The kids will dive in and the vegetables will be gone before you know it,” she says. “You are taking the edge off their hunger, and then you can serve more vegetables at the meal.”

•Shop alone. Go to the grocery when kids are at other activities so they don’t try to sway you to buy extra junk food, and pack their lunches for school so they are eating healthier choices.

Teresa at Babies Online gives us the following advice on getting toddlers to eat their veggies:

•Hide them. Instead of serving her a plate with clearly identifiable veggies, we hide them – whether in or underneath the other food. However, we also make sure to provide some green matter in an identifiable form on the plate as well, to give her the option of eating it willingly. The Sneaky Chef is a great book of recipes that may help you perfect this concept.  (No this is not a sponsored post.)

•Transform them. Rather than serving our daughter a plate of steamed asparagus, we might try a dish of creamed asparagus or – in desperate times – fried asparagus. Same goes for green beans, broccoli and other plant food. In addition, some snack foods such as Terra Chips, are a form of vegetable and more pleasing to her palate. Everything in moderation.

•Spin them.   Instead of calling it scalloped potatoes, we might call them chips or even coins. Broccoli is trees. Carrots are also coins, or sticks, or mush. We’ve found that simple semantics like renaming items can help us to sometimes get our toddler to do what we want her to – whether she knows it or not.

•Make it FUN! Be entertaining and make a game out of it. Children respond to silly antics far more quickly than simply being told to do something. Did you ever see A Christmas Story? Remember how a piggy eats?  If so, you get the picture. (If not, you must immediately step away from the computer and go rent yourself a copy.  Seriously.  Right now.)

According to Dawn Jackson Blatner, a registered dietitian and author of the book The Flexitarian Diet, involving children in the meal planning helps.

She recommends that parents should sit down with their kids to come up with “a dinner deck” – a list of 10 favorite quick and healthful dinners which should be written on index cards. One side of the card lists the ingredients, on the other side the directions for preparation. The cards serve as shopping lists and recipes and could easily be used by appropriately aged members of the family. She also gives the following additional tips:

Buy wisely. Consider low-fat vanilla yogurt with berries, whole-grain fig cookies and fat-free chocolate pudding.

Find tasty trade-offs. Choose individual servings of desserts such as 100-calorie frozen fudge bars if your child loves ice cream. Or better yet, just go out for an occasional ice cream cone.

Make your own treats. One quick and easy snack is homemade trail mix made with 1 to 2 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons of dried fruit, half a cup of whole-grain cereal and 2 tablespoons of chopped nuts or sesame seeds. “This mix looks like a treat because of the chips, and it is really good for them,” says Elizabeth Ward, a registered dietitian in Boston, mother of three girls and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Feeding Your Baby and Toddler.

Let kids help. Have children spread hummus or peanut butter on crackers, apples, carrots and celery, Ward says. She suggests getting kids involved in making meals.

As a mom of twin 6-year-olds, I’ve tried a couple of these tricks myself (and they work, too!) although in general, I feel very lucky that my two boys do not have any problems with eating fruit and vegetables and would just as easily fight over the last slice of cucumber or apple as for the last cookie. Thank God for small blessings.

What about you? Can you share with us your strategies towards healthy family diet?

Photo credit: stock.xchng

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