Turning Tables/Wanting to Raise Healthy Children, But My Child Refuses to Eat Healtily-Tips

“Children live what they learn,” I remember seeing this hanging on the wall of my parent’s home growing up, and once I could read, it became a routine for me to read it every time I passed because of how strategically placed it was. I never fully grasped it then, but as I accumulated years and experience, I finally got a more profound meaning. I am unsure who coined this phrase, but this person could not be more correct. Children undoubtedly live what they learn, and if you are still not convinced, take a closer look at your children. As for me, I see this in my children daily. Our little ones are like sponges; they absorb everything from the people around them, good or bad. Therefore, we must be especially cautious about what we say and do in their presence and the influences we allow in their lives.

As parents, we want to do our best to raise healthy and decent adults for the future. And for those who acknowledge our Creator God, we want them to be godly individuals. We are fortunate to have some of the planet’s most beautiful and unique children. God has been good and expects us to do well with His little treasures. And admittedly, we look at their loving, innocent faces and cannot help feeling like the most blessed persons alive. We want nothing more than to love, protect and even spoil them at times, which we did and are still doing today. Loving and caring for our children comes naturally; it never stops, and it should not—parent -children’s relationships are beautiful.

Sure, we did our best to nurture and care for them in the best way possible, and their little faces affirm that we are doing great. They are happy, relatively healthy, and thriving awesomely. However, our conscience suddenly begins to claw at us in the back of our minds; we realize that you have made some mistakes concerning their nutrition and may have indulged them too much in consuming the wrong things and now that we have seen the light and desire a healthier lifestyle, more than anything we want to change it before it is too late.

Oh, how we wished that we had taken the time to make a healthy homemade breakfast instead of picking up McNuggets or that you had given your child a fruit instead of a bag of potato chips, candy, etc. The years flew by quickly, and they have grown more. They have become accustomed to unhealthy junk food and refuse to try anything “healthy.” To make it worst, you may have given in all because they would throw tantrums and erupt in screams to get their way. And of course you, you want some quiet, so give in. Or it could be that you did not have the knowledge and information you now have at your disposal. I fall in the latter mostly. 

First of all, no judgment here. Itz Holistically Wholesome is a judge-free time to grow and do better zone. Besides, we all have made some wrong moves along the way concerning our children. And believe it or not, culture and tradition play an enormous role in how we parent. Consequently, we tend to feed our children the diet we grew up on and still embrace today. When I had my daughter, I was not the worst eater but not as health-conscious as I am now. Vegetables were sparing in our diet, and yes, I fed her how I fed myself. 

Most importantly, you and I now realize that improvements are needed for our future generations to be disease-free. So, we have learned and are willing to do what is necessary to make this a reality. It is time to turn the tables and break generations of health issues relating to lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, obesity, etc. 

So where do we begin? We start by taking baby steps and allowing the change to be gradual. Each day we will incorporate more healthy and home-cook options. We will replace processed juice with natural ones and especially drink more water. For some of us, this may be challenging, while for others manageable. I can tell you that a made-up mind can do absolutely anything. When I finally decided to change my lifestyle, everything I thought I could not live without slowly became unappealing. Having the right mindset is everything.

But here is the tricky part, retraining our children. It is my honest belief that children are the most interesting when it comes to food. Whether they eat well or not, they become picky and skeptical about food at some point in their development. While this is frustrating, we must understand that they are growing and learning, and what they do is perfectly normal. So you have been doing all you can to have your child or children eat better, but it does not matter how creative you get; they refuse to eat it and demand their usual foods, whatever it is. I imagined that it was tough when the children were much older. Because by now, they have already formed their own opinions of what tastes good and what they want or do not want to eat. However, here are a few tips to help you along the way:

  1. Be Patient – Habits are hard to break, and change is gradual. It might seem like you are not making strides but trust me, you are.
  2.  Encourage them – Children love encouragement, and I find that when I do that with my children, they are more willing to try new things and give up ones that are not so good. When my children refuse something new, I tell them they can only know if something tastes excellent after trying it, which tends to work because “the what if” arouses their curiosity.
  3.  Be an example – one of the best things we can do for our children is lead by example. When my kids see that I am eating well, they want to do the same things. My husband was still a vegetarian when our son was born, and since we are raising him entirely plant-based, he gave up his love for processed dairy cheese because he did not want to confuse our son. He also wanted to ensure that he was practicing what he preached, well teach in this regard. We know that a child will call you out if you are doing something that you tell them not to do. For example, I told my son that the only place for eating in our home was the kitchen and dining room. Sometime after that, I fixed myself a bowl of cereal and sat in the living room while eating. My son told me I lied because I ate where I should not have. I was so quick to apologize and find the dining room, haha.
  4.  Use available resources – Find videos of other children eating healthy or programs and have your children watch them. Books are valuable resources as well. Children are copy-cats and will try to do the same. Since we are plantbased, I follow a lot of other plantbased groups or individuals on various social platforms and allow my son to view them as well. Although my son has been plantbased all his life, there are times when he refuses certain things. Being around other children has undoubtedly influenced this as well. During these times, I reminded him why eating healthy is essential, such as growing big and strong, maintaining beautiful skin, getting more intelligent, and preventing sickness. And since he never likes being sick, he quickly gets back on track.
  5.  Celebrate – Celebrate small wins; it’s a big deal. Whenever you see your children trying to do better, cheer them on. It works like a charm.
  6.  Make dishes attractive and colorful – Children are all about pretty and colorful things. So they might be willing to try if you can make the meal look appealing. You can also buy various molds to shape their fruits and vegetables into their favorite characters. And for goodness sake, healthy does not mean bland and tasteless; add some healthy flavors to their meals.
  7. Negotiate – At times, you have to negotiate. For example, if you eat this, I will allow you to do that. Children love to make bargains. I will eat all my food if I get to watch it! Not really. I first corrected him so that he knew who is the parent and who was responsible for who. Now he says, “mommy if I eat all my salad, can I watch? In this case, both of us are happy. Be careful so as not to make negotiating a habit.
  8.  Trick them – Listen, this is the truth. When your efforts seem to fail, trick them. When it gets tedious, they must get that good nutrition, so trick them. My son has been saying he no longer likes avocado (one of his absolute favorites) and oatmeal. He refused to eat them, so I added them to his favorite smoothies and shakes. You should see how he drank it and commented on its taste. You can make popsicles as well. I also make oatmeal pancakes since he is a pancake lover. 

“Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it” (Proverbs 22:6)

Remember, lifestyle diseases are at an all-time high, and even our children are affected. So there should never be any doubt regarding good nutrition for your children; it is a priority. So let us move forward together to create a generation of healthy eaters.

Be blessed!

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