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Originally published December 13 2008

Teaching and Encouraging Kids to Eat Healthy

by Jo Hartley

(NaturalNews) Anyone who is striving to be health conscious in today's society soon realizes that teaching healthy eating principles and habits to our children is vitally important. Many things can be taught simply by example and in this vein here are some ideas for healthy eating activities, ideas, and tips especially geared for children.

Like it or not, our kids are part of a convenience culture. This means that it is likely that they have become accustomed to diets full of sugary, salty, fatty foods that do not contain enough fresh ingredients, like fruits and vegetables. If this doesn't describe your kids then congratulations you are doing a great job!

Did you know that current research suggests that by age two children will have developed food preferences that will be with them for their entire lives? To a large extent, these food preferences are shaped and molded by their mothers. If a mother dislikes a vegetable and therefore doesn't serve it to her children, they will not learn to like it or eat it. Start kids eating right from the very beginning. Eight-year-olds generally prefer the same foods they did when they were four years old.

Your children will be set up for a life of misery and health problems if they do not learn the benefits of healthy eating as children. Children who do not get enough vitamin A, folic acid, and zinc are predisposed to many childhood diseases.

If you find that your family's diet needs an overhaul, it's never too late to make these changes. There will be a time of retraining for the taste buds, but with a little determination and imagination, changing to a healthier lifestyle can be done. Achieving a new appreciation for real foods will be something that will benefit everyone for the rest of their lives.

Tips to Encourage Healthy Eating for Kids:

1. Try adding vegetables to your kids' favorite dishes. This is a great way to boost nutrients and make the foods that your kids like even more nutritious.

2.Do everything you can to eliminate food additives from your children's diet. It has been proven that artificial colors and flavors negatively affect children's behavior. Sodium benzoate, a commonly used preservative, has been found to increase hyperactivity in small children. This behavior includes inattention, impulsivity, and over activity.

3.Serve real food for breakfast. Making a pot of oatmeal is every bit as easy as pouring a bowl of cold cereal. It takes no more than five minutes to cook a bowl of oatmeal, and your children will benefit from this breakfast all day long. Children simply perform better after eating oatmeal than just about any other breakfast you could serve. The glucose contained in the oatmeal has been found to boost memory and attention. Other beneficial breakfasts include whole-grain breads, apples, oranges, grapefruit berries, grapes, yogurt, milk, and bran cereal.

4.If you find yourself with a picky eater, institute the one bite rule. In this way, kids have to try foods that many times they only think they don't like. There have been studies that conclude that it takes seven attempts with a new food for a child to like it and accept it.

5.Strive to add berries and greens to as many food choices as possible. Berries contain many beneficial antioxidants. Greens must be eaten often and are very important part of everyone's healthy diet.

6.Involve kids in cooking and kitchen preparation. Encourage them to help you. Even though it will create more mess, it will encourage them and teach lifelong kitchen skills. Young children can help make salads and can help create soups. Let them help you decide what healthy dish to prepare. Allow them to help you shop, and then bring the healthy fruits and vegetables home to use in the kitchen.

7.Pack healthy lunches and snacks and try to make them interesting. Dried fruits and nuts and seeds are great for lunches, as well as yogurt and cubes of cheese with different chopped vegetables. Use a cookie cutter to make fun shapes out of sandwiches.

8.Teach children to avoid junk food by your own good example. People who are addicted to junk food will lead miserable lives filled with disease. Impart an enthusiasm for real foods to your children.

9.Take your children to the grocery store and set them loose in the produce department. Allow them to explore new and unusual fruits and vegetable. Encourage them to find items they've never seen before and would like to try.

10.Experiment with taste distinctions. Allow them to explore the sweet, savory, bitter, and sour tastes of different foods. Introducing new tastes and smells will encourage food exploration.

About the author

Jo Hartley
Wife, Mother of 8, and Grandmother of 2
Jo is a 41 year old home educator who has always gravitated toward a natural approach to life. She enjoys learning as much as possible about just about anything! - Current Events - Simply Abundant Living

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