Most kids probably don’t know that God created over 100 vegetables and 50 fruits. Neither has most children eaten all of those produce items? One summer my kids and I picked out new produce items each week. It was a lot of fun tasting items we had never eaten before. I find it interesting that God created twice as many vegetables as fruit. God knew what we needed to eat. I think of vegetables as God’s staple and fruits as his dessert. How do we get our kids to eat healthy foods? Here are some ideas to try:
1. When you go to the grocery store, have your youngster choose one new fruit and vegetable for the family to try. If your kid picks out the item, they will more likely want to try it. If you have a couple of kids, let one choose a vegetable and the other a fruit. Then switch the following week.
2. Create a scavenger hunt for your kids in the produce section of the grocery store. Simply ask them to find the colors for each vegetable and fruit. My new picture book, Eat God’s Food, provides a list of vegetables that they are supposed to draw and a list of fruits that needs color identification for each fruit.
3. While grocery shopping, ask your kids to choose their favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruit. When you get home, create snack bags that include their favorite items. Measure a scoop in each bag and place them in your pantry. These snacks are perfect to take with your kids for their athletic events.
4. Show your child how to read a food label. When my kids picked out a grocery store item, I asked them to check to see how many grams of sugar it contained. They knew we couldn’t buy anything with over 10 grams of sugar. So they kept checking food labels until they found one that was close to that amount. Manufacturers seem to add sugar to many foods. So checking labels really helps you lower your sugar consumption. Lower sugar results in better behavior. There is a section, Eat God’s Food, teaching them to read food labels and identify unwanted ingredients.
5. Teach your kids about the health benefits of consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and meat. Along with your child, figure out the vitamins in these foods. Together, determine what fruit or vegetable item might improve their vision or give them more energy. Identify items that may agitate your child (ones that include added sugar, monosodium gluconate (MSG), artificial sweeteners, and colors). Limit their consumption of these foods.
6. Explain to your kids that products made from white flour have been stripped of their nutrients. These foods may cause a child to grow wider instead of taller. Explain how food manufacturers have to choose between doing what’s profitable versus beneficial for the consumer. Adding sugar, salt, and fat to foods gets us hooked, so we buy more.
7. Each week cook something with your children. My book, Eat God’s Food, provides recipes to create with your kid for the following food groups: grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, and meat.
In addition, limit your child’s consumption of oat-based cereals because they contain a residue from the carcinogen, glyphosate. Glyphosate is used as an herbicide that is sprayed on the following genetically modified crops: oats, wheat, corn, and soy. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment. Since the federal government does not monitor the amount of glyphosate residue on produce, the Environmental Working Group checked. This article lists the level of glyphosate found in your child’s favorite cereal. I recommend purchasing organic products if they are made from corn, oats, wheat, or soy.
Expand your child’s knowledge base and point of view about foods. Help them to understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy foods. Wouldn’t it be fun if they grabbed a grocery store product, read the label, and told you why it was not healthy? Together, select interesting vegetables and fruits from the produce section. Awaken you and your child’s viewpoint regarding the vastness of the foods that God created for us to enjoy.
Susan Neal RN, MBA, MHS teaches both children and adults about healthy nutritional guidelines. She lives out what she teaches. Susan loves to share with others what she’s learned about health. Now she wants to educate children about developing wholesome eating habits. She is the author of eight healthy living books, including her two newest publications Eat God’s Food and Solving the Gluten Puzzle.