It’s no secret that children learn more by observing our choices and behaviour over what we tell them to do. Modelling the right habits becomes critical in raising healthy children and teaching them how to make the right food choices. Children see what we eat, which helps them decide what is or isn’t good to eat. The rising pandemic of childhood obesity starts in our own homes and kitchens, not at the local drive-through. Very rarely will you find an obese child being raised in a home where the parents themselves are eating healthy and living active lifestyles. An overweight child is often accompanied by an overweight parent, and so the habits of eating poorly are passed from one generation to another. Adults have to purposefully unlearn the bad habits carried over from their own childhoods, in order to teach their children good eating habits.

Children today are being fed junk any which way you look, starting with what they get fed for breakfast. It’s said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet most people fill up bowls of sugary breakfast cereals with fat free chocolate flavoured milk for their kids first thing in the morning. This, already sets them up for failure for the rest of the day.

breakfast cereals are bad for children's health

How most children are made to start their day.

Following that is the nutrient empty white bread sandwiches , filled with processed meats, bottles of fructose laden fruit juices and sodas, to snacks like crisps, chocolates, and sweets, all sold at school canteens. They then come home to macaroni and cheese or otherwise have burgers and chips or a deep-fried something from the local take-away joint for dinner. Is it any wonder that this generation’s children are facing the problems they are, when there is very little (if any) actual nutrition in their daily diets?

junk food hotdog

What’s for lunch? Not only is this void of any actual nutrition, it’s detrimental to your child’s health.

Children who are raised eating junk, grow to become adults who are prone to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and a host of other complications. Parents and child minders need to be deliberate about teaching children good and clean eating habits and feeding them whole nutritious foods. They need to fuel their growing bodies and minds, and establish a solid base for their future eating choices.

Banting Foodie Junk Food

“Stuff” that has no business being on anyone’s diet, let alone that of a growing child.

This comes down to feeding our kids real (i.e. ACTUAL) food, not pseudo or franken-foods from packets, boxes and jars. Real food grows out of the ground, grazes on land or swims in the sea, and looks as close as possible to how you would find it out in nature. No cereal that I know of fits that description.

Banting Foodie real food

Real Food looks like it would out in nature

Some benefits of having your children eat real foods include:

  • Reducing the incidence of ADHD (it’s a wonder how any child can sit still with all that sugar buzzing through their bloodstream)
  • Fostering increased levels of concentration and reducing fatigue
  • Building strong immune systems (can I get a YAY for few colds and flu’s!)
  • Promoting proper digestive function

There is no parent I know who would not want this for their kids!

I’ve heard some parents say that their kids refuse to eat healthy food and will only eat nuggets and chips. My response is that if that is you stop offering nuggets and chips, then they no longer become an option. A child who is left to go hungry for a little bit, until he experiences true hunger, will eat whatever you give to him, even the dreaded spinach that they hate! The trouble is that most parents constantly cave into their child’s every whim, and are afraid of their children “starving”, hence giving them whatever they ask for. There is absolutely no child in the world who will starve to death when there is food available. Just wait for them to miss a meal (or two) and I can guarantee you they will gleefully eat anything healthy put before them afterwards.

I’ve on occasion offered my son some green veges and meat for supper, which he refuses to eat and demanded something else. I make it clear that the meal before him is the only meal on offer for supper and if he doesn’t eat that, then he can go to bed hungry. By sheer will and resolve, he sometimes has gone to bed without eating supper. However, first thing in the morning, he inhales anything I give to him as breakfast – and I make sure its nutrient dense and filling (usually eggs with bacon or a stuffed omelette and some Greek yoghurt with berries). If I give in to his whims, the cycle would only perpetuate, which would be to his detriment. I am the adult. I make the decisions on what can or can’t be eaten in my house. There is no excuse for ceding over such a big responsibility to a 3 year old (or a child of any other age for that matter!).

There are also some creative ways to “hide” vegetables in your kids diet, which (if you aren’t keen on a confrontation with a pre-schooler) could be an option for you. Some of these include:

  • Making sauces and dips using roasted vegetables that are then pureed
  • Making vegetable based smoothies to drink or freeze them to make ice lollies (ALL kids love ice-lollies/ popsicles)
  • Use cookie cutters to cut veges into interesting shapes and characters
  • Use whole food / paleo recipes to replace staples and make zucchini bread instead of wheat bread, egg muffins or savoury paleo muffins instead of sweet wheat flour muffins etc
  • Get the kids involved with making their meals! They will always be keen on eating something they made themselves and they have so much fun while doing it!

All in all, it comes down to parents realising what a huge influence they have over the long term health of their children. It’s not enough to raise kids with a host of metabolic dysfunctions, when we now know better. Making small changes goes a long way and all the small changes compound to a massive difference in the life of a growing child.

Start by purposefully getting rid of junk foods in your house. No secret “sweetie cupboards” or stashes of chocolate in the pantry. If you know that going to the grocery store is a trigger for your kids demanding junk – don’t take them with you to the grocery store! Ask a neighbour to watch them for an hour while you pop out – this will save you and them serious turmoil. Make it a habit to plan all your family’s meals for the entire week, in advance. This prevents you taking a turn into your local McJunk on your way to anywhere. Add more greens to your kiddo’s plates even if its hidden in other foods they like to eat (e.g. finely chop spinach into meatballs). Lastly, remember that you are the custodian for giving them the building blocks they will use to build their futures. It might cost you a bit more effort now, but raising healthy children, strong in both mind and body, who from a young age are balanced and get the nutrition they need, is immensely rewarding in the end.

Unsure of how to start? Get the full package of real food Family Friendly Fat Burning Meals which includes a 175 page recipe book, 8 weeks of meal plans, grocey lists and dessert cookbook to name just some of the bonuses.

raising healthy children family friendly meals

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