Encouraging Kids to Love Healthy Food

spinach-arugula-cranberry-walnut-salad“Don’t eat the salad!” the little girl warned me at the potluck. I was worried. What is wrong with it? Is it old? Did it fall on the floor? “No, salad is yucky!” she explained.

I remember when my son used to tell me that. “Salad is yucky”. I even have some friends who won’t eat salads. And that is OK. For many reasons:

1. As long as the person is getting their nutrient needs met from other fruits and vegetables, salad is not a necessary part of their diet. Make sure your family and friends are able to choose healthy foods they enjoy instead of being forced to eat foods they do not enjoy. This creates the misconception that “healthy foods are yucky”.

2. In the case of children it sometimes takes time for their taste buds to mature. We often don’t consider this when trying to get children to eat a varied diet. To understand this think of a child’s taste palette in the same way as you would think about their reading level. If your child is reading “Run Spot Run” books then they are probably not ready for food that has the sophisticated taste and texture variations of Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. Watching my own children’s tastes develop over their 14, 16 and 18 years of life has reflected this.

3. Family AND friends will be influenced by what you eat and do and not what you say or offer them. A colleague of mine stopped drinking diet sodas after I refused her offers for soda for a year and even explained why a few times when she asked. However, I never lectured her or told her to stop drinking them even though her health complaints were linked to her consumption My kids would often eat what I was eating because they were too lazy to fix any other food and it “looked good” or they wanted to “be like mom”.

4. Peer pressure can be good but it needs to be balanced with family support. As teenagers my kids have been so influenced by the teen pressure to “look good” that my readily available healthy foods are now looking quite “fashionable”. The fact that I support their “fashionable” choices with hearty whole foods helps balance the pressure to eat “teen healthy” which can actually be quite unhealthy at times (only salad or fake “health foods”).

Enjoy the whole foods you love and help those you love enjoy them too 🙂

Blessings & Health,
Kristie Burns

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