“But what about my kids? How can I make them eat healthier?”. I get this question from parents in every 90 Day Challenge that I coach. Taking away refined sugar and junk food from their diet can lead to an open rebellion. With that said, there are strategies you can use to make things a lot easier. Here are my favorite strategies for introducing healthy food to your kids.
Before we move on…
Between my 7 years as a sailing coach for kids and teenagers and my 2.5 years experience as a teacher for adolescents, I’ve seen many young individuals struggling, both with their relationship with their body and food.
It’s heartbreaking seeing teenagers freaking out because they feel they’ve been overeating and have to work out to make up for it.
Or seeing someone that’s clearly malnourished refusing to eat because they don’t want to put on weight.
I’m all in for kids and teenagers eating healthy and being active, but it should be for the right reasons. They should play, have fun, and enjoy life. Not live under the pressure of having a “perfect body”.
They’re comparing themselves to supermodels who are anomalies and a poor representation of what someone should look like.
First of all, most models are on calorie-restrictive diets that are not supportive of their body. Second of all, they have world class makeup artists applying 10 layers of makeup on them. Third of all, they have professional photographers who know the best angles and lighting. On top of that, all photos will be edited and photoshopped.
The pictures we see in magazines are fiction. It’s not natural! Yet young people still try to mimic this image.
Teenagers should not be worried about counting calories. They should be focusing on getting enough of the “good stuff”.
Don’t worry about cutting out the bad stuff. That’ll come later.
The worst strategy to make kids do anything is to tell them too. Most of the time, they’re sure to do the opposite.
Nobody likes to get told what to do all the time. Even if they do what you tell them to, they’re likely to be unmotivated and do it out of obligation. Until they break, get angry and rebel against you.
As a kid, do you remember how exciting it was to do something you weren’t allowed to? Something that only adults were allowed?
I remember the first time I stayed up past my curfew. It was past midnight and we were out sailing. My sister was home sick and my mom had to take care of her. So I had to help my dad.
My job: watch for lighthouses. I sat there beside my dad, under the stars, helping to navigate by watching for lighthouses. I was six years old and so proud that I was doing an adult task.
You can use this to your advantage.
Let’s say you’re making burgers for dinner. In the past, you’ve had traditional burgers with buns and French Fries. After doing WildFit, you want to make homemade burger patties with salad and guacamole.
If this is a sudden shift, there’s a good chance that your kids won’t take well to it. If you’re forcing it on them, they’re more likely to rebel against you.
If you want to be more strategic, try making one meal for the adults and another one for the kids (make sure that the adult meal looks tasty!). If your kids ask you what you’re eating, you can say that this is the grown-up version.
Kids learn by observing adults. Meaning if they notice you’re eating something different, they’ll want to emulate you.
If you do this a few times, your kids are more likely to start requesting the adult version.
When I worked as a teacher, I always had an Alkagizer Prime (green vegetable smoothie) on me. When the students saw me drinking it, they asked me if they could taste it. My standard answer was NO.
I said no for two reasons:
- If I said yes, I had to say yes to everyone, and I wouldn’t have any left for me.
- I wanted them to build up their desire for it.
The more persistent students didn’t accept no for an answer. I told them how awful it tasted and if they still insisted after a week, I would finally let them have a taste.
I usually got one of two reactions:
- They liked it.
- They were surprised that it tasted better than they expected.
My students became great marketers for the green smoothie by telling other students that it wasn’t so bad.
Super Hero Smoothies
If you want to start making changes to your kids diet, instead of doing it all at once, start off small.
A great way to increase their intake of fruit and vegetables is with smoothies. If you want them to get excited about something, link it to something they’re already enthusiastic about.
I had a client who did our 90 Day Challenge and wanted her son to get excited about eating healthier.
Her son loved Star Wars and Marvel movies. Now his favorite characters all have their own smoothie.
She also wanted to teach her son stress management and mindfulness. Once again, she looked at how she could tie in what already excites him… Star Wars!
Instead of saying, “Now we’re going to sit down and meditate,” she created The Yoda Game.
Reading these posts from Monica makes me smile every time!
The most important thing is to enjoy life.
Find out what excites them and find creative ways to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. It should be your focus. As time progresses, you can slowly start decreasing refined sugar and dairy products (if you want to).
How would you implement these strategies? In what situations would you use these strategies with your kids? What has worked for you? Comment below!