How to Get Children Eating Healthy?

I recently met a new mom who was breastfeeding her 3 month old baby. I for sure support breastfeeding because it is the most powerful and natural thing for the health of both mom and baby. However, this mom got sick and went on medication and therefore needed to stop breastfeeding. When she switched to bottle feeding, the baby freaked out. The baby refused to take the bottle for a day or two, maybe even a week. I am not sure if the baby refused to eat for a week, but for a day or two she didn’t eat. It was about a week ordeal of major tantrums. Nevertheless, after some period of readjusting the baby took the bottle and is just fine now, growing beautifully.

The human body is designed to survive, especially when there is love. Children may test boundaries to see how much they can control, but they will not starve to death when it comes down to it. I mean maybe if a child has some sort of major mental illness or disfunction, but a regular child will not starve themselves. There may be a period of testing and tantrums, but in the end the child will eat what you give them. This is something a trained nutritionist told me when I was an intern at a high school co-facilitating educational programs for teen moms about healthy eating and safe sex.

A lot of parents struggle because their child only eats pasta and some other unhealthy things and refuses the eat vegetables when you offer it to them. There may be a few reasons why this happens. First of all, you may offer the vegetables next to a pizza. Of course most children are going to fill themselves up with pizza and not have room for the salad. Or you tell them to eat the healthy foods, but you are not firm and you just let the child walk all over you because you don’t want to deal with their screaming. Also, children do not like spicy things. So when you prepare things make sure you just use salt and turmeric. Although turmeric is considered a spice, it does not taste spicy. Children also like simple things and they want the food to look nice. So don’t give them some weird looking food with black pepper that looks like dirt. Secondly, it is very important to detoxify yourself and your husband before conception. If an unexpected blessing happens that is fine, but if you have time to prepare I recommend at least three months of no alcohol, no drugs, low sugar etc, and lots of organic fresh healthy foods and pure water. Moreover, when the mother is pregnant she needs to eat healthy, because this is when you are also introducing things to the baby. How can you expect the child to eat healthy when you ate cookies and processed food during pregnancy and continue to eat it in front of the baby? You are the babies greatest role model and you are an example for them. If you need to binge on pizza and cookies because you have an eating disorder and addictions to food, don’t do it in front of your child, and when you all sit down for dinner make sure you eat healthy with them. Just like the story of the baby whose mom could no longer breast feed due to medications, you can also get older children to eat differently. Children will put up a fight for a day or more and refuse to eat, and they will have tantrums for maybe a week or two, but in the end they will not starve themselves, they will end up eating that salad to make the pain in the belly go away. Also if the child is acting disrespectful, which is usually learned from their parents or teachers, or someone, you need to give them a time out. There is a science to time outs and here it is:

When a child is acting out rudely like yelling or throwing food, get down to their level, don’t hover over them, that is intimidating. Get on their level, look them in the eyes, and say in a firm and serious voice. “Please stop this behavior, use your indoor voice, hands are not for hitting, etc. This is your warning.” Giving them a warning is key. Do not punish a child before the warning. It is not fair, you need to give them an opportunity to make a decision. If the child continues the negative behavior, do not negotiate, do not yell, and for God’s sake never hit the child. Pick up the child, take them by the hand and walk them over to a time out spot. It can be a step or a special designated area, away from toys and other fun things. You again get down to their level, look them in the eyes, and say in a firm voice, “I am giving you a time out because you did this or that.” And then you walk away. Do not negotiate or argue, just walk away. Set a timer. If a child is 4 give them 4 minutes time out. If a child is 7, give them 7 minutes time out. If a child gets out of their time out before the time is up, reset the timer and put them back without saying anything. Quietly walk them back to the time out spot. Do not talk to them during this time, do not reward with communication. This may take a few tries and this may take a few hours. But it gets easier and then the child will stay in time out the first time and learn from the first time. Once the child did their time, you come back, again get down to their level and repeat, “I put you in time out because of so and so. I want an apology.” Then when the child says a genuine sorry you should hug and make up, no grudges. If a child does not want to hug right away, that is okay, give them space, but they need to say ‘I am sorry’ before you let them off the time out spot. With this technique you are teaching them positive discipline, self control, and respect that will help them greatly in their life. I learned this time out technique from an amazing woman named Jo Frost who had a popular show called the SupperNanny. You can find episodes on youtube and you can find her on social media and follow her and her work. I am thankful to my friend Sarah who suggested I watch the SupperNanny episodes. I have probably watched over 30 for sure.

Again, do not give your children any processed food. It is filled with chemicals that mess up their brain and body. If you want to give them a treat, make it organic and do the 90/10 or 90/5 rule. Where 90% of food is healthy and nutritious. A child is not going to die from not eating one day, but by teaching them the importance of proper diet you will be helping them for the rest of their lives. This was not as big of an issue in past generations because processed food was not as available. Now it is everywhere! Cereals, boxed meals, candy! Also beware, even if the box says organic does not mean it is healthy. Reading labels is key. Some products only require 70% to be organic ingredients and the rest junk. I always say, stay away from packaged food. Parents need to take charge and stop being lazy. If you don’t know how to cook, learn. It is not hard to cook. No one is asking you to roast a stuffed turkey. Making eggs, salad, and some sweet potatoes is super easy. Making a shake with kefir from grass fed cows and organic cacao powder with chia seeds is easy.  Just put it all in a cup and shake it. Making a trail mix with dried fruits is easy. Also stay away from bananas, they are not healthy. Way too many people are eating these sugar sticks because they think it is fresh, but it has been hybridized and messed with for a long time. Even if they say the banana is organic, it is not good. A real banana is tiny compared to what you see in a store.

Unhealthy diet is linked to hormone inbalance and much more. Plus we all want to be beautiful and feel good. When I go to the grocery store the only place I go to is the fresh produce isle, and based on what they have available, I brainstorm and see what to make from the selection in front of me. Sometimes it is zucchini, or brussel sprouts, or cauliflower. I like to cook those but I also love to eat a lot of fresh raw vegetables like arugula, radishes, cucumbers, lettuce, etc. I season it with olive oil and apple cider vinegar, but you can get pretty creative with healthy dressings if you would like. Make it yourself! Don’t be lazy. Avoid nitrates, preservatives, and GMOs!!!

It is important how you fuel your bodies and your children’s bodies. You are also voting with your dollars, so purchase things that are ethical, pure, humane, organic, and healthy. In the photo below I reused bottles to make camomile tea from fresh flowers! I got them at the farmers market from a very nice young lady and her husband. I also love making tea with peppermint and lavender. Yum!

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