Friday, January 10, 2014

Getting Your Child to Eat Healthy Foods

I hear from parents so often that they cannot get their children to eat anything healthy. "He won't eat anything but chicken nuggets and french fries." "She only eats buttered noodles." The problem in these scenarios is not the child, why do they have these unhealthy choices to begin with? This is more about a family's lifestyle change, than it is about getting your child to eat their vegetables. To start, families must model healthy eating habits for their child. When your child is only surrounded by healthy choices, they WILL start making them for themselves. Ideally, it is best to start this from birth, actually prenatally, but the sooner this change can be made, the better for the entire family.

As in all things, your child is more likely to follow if s/he is an active participant instead of it being forced upon her/him. You can open the conversation with a family meeting about how worried you are about your families' nutrition. This should not be about weight, or getting "fat." While coming to a healthy weight is a side benefit to a healthy lifestyle change, it should not be the goal, and not be why children are taught that eating healthy food is important. At the meeting, try offering that s/he can plan your menu and then help shop for it and help prepare it. Give her/him a guide like:



    Afterschool Snack:

        Starch Vegetable:
        Green Vegetable:

Let him/her fill it in with what s/he'll eat, and after s/he has been successfully at it for about a month or so you can start encouraging her/him to try new even healthier foods. At first, allow your child to choose whatever food properly fits that category, and while at the store get the most healthy version of that food. So, while Macaroni and Cheese isn't the best choice for the rest of your life, but while tastebuds are adjusting you can choose whole wheat mac and cheese (like Similarly, hot dogs aren't the healthiest choice, but you can choose fat-free all white meat turkey franks while weaning off of unhealthy, processed foods.
Main guidelines for the start:
Any grain chosen should have a minimum of 5 grams dietary fiber. 
Any dairy should be fat free (as cancer causing toxins accumulate in the fat of dairy).
Any meat chosen should be the leanest cuts possible, and should be organic and grass-fed. Try to keep meats to a minimum of two servings per week, as most carcinogens are found in animal products.
No refined sugars/high fructose corn sugar. Date sugar and agave are great to sweeten foods and low on the glycemic index.
No oils, butters, margarines, etc. Fat should come from nuts, seeds, avacados, olives, and other natural unprocessed sources (oils are highly processed and removes the healthiest parts of the plants they are sourced from!).
Add very little salt to foods, and buy no salt added foods when possible.
When you talk about why a food choice isn't acceptable (say s/he picks a cookie for a grain) instead of saying anything about weight, say "That doesn't give your body the nutrition it needs go be healthy, and it will give your teeth cavities. When your body doesn't get proper nutrition it can become sick. Mommy/Daddy loves you and as a parent it is my job to help you make good choices for your body. I know sometimes that is frustrating and difficult for you to understand when you really want something." Maybe even get some books on those topics for her/him to read.
And keep in mind, it is physically impossible for a child to starve themselves (except in rare cases where food aversions exist, and those should be treated at a feeding clinic that specializes in food disorders). If they refuse the healthy foods you offer give other healthy choices, but do not introduce any of the unhealthy choices just so they will eat something. Empty calories do nothing for the body but hurt it. You do your child no good by giving her/him food that does not benefit the body.
A must-read for parents is Dr. Joel Furhman's "Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right" ( It is an eye opening book about how the root of nearly every problem a child has is the food the child eats. It contains recipes and stories of how parents even avoid doctor recommended surgeries (like ear tubes) by changing nutrition, which most current medical practices do not even bring up the subject of nutrition!

Good luck!


  1. I'm so glad to see a Montessori educator recommending and following Dr Furhman's diet! Exactly what I am trying to do...

  2. Nice article it is! Yes, it's true that parents are not that concerned enough about the eating habit of their children. I got very nervous when my baby girl fell with an unknown disease and that is due to the unhygienic food she ate once. As babies are very small and the unhygienic food reacts very fast. Obesity is another major outcome of the irregular and heavy food habit. So parents should remain careful about the foods their baby takes.
    Baby Diets