There was a great segment on the Today Show recently about parenting mistakes when trying to get kids to eat healthy. As I've documented on this blog before, my little does not like vegetables. She's just about 20 months old, so I guess I should not be surprised.
I am, however, frustrated.
I desperately want to make sure I get my daughter's life started on a healthy note and have worked hard to get her well-balanced meals. She has the occasional vegetable breakthrough. Then the next day, we're back to square one. So when I saw the topic about parenting mistakes, I figured I should tune in to make sure I'm not guilty. Joy says these parenting mistakes can lead to health issues, particularly obesity, down the road.
The segment featured Joy Bauer (whose LIFE diet is one of the most effective things I have tried). Her first rule was to stop encouraging kids to be members of the "clean plate club." Joy explained that kids know when they're full, and they stop eating (unlike so many of us adults), and encouraging them to keep eating is going against what their body is trying to do.
The next mistake is offering a dessert as a reward for eating their vegetables. She says it reinforces the idea that vegetables are unappealing. She says it's best to hail the positive aspects of vegetables, how they make you strong and healthy.
Joy also says starchy snakes are a common mistake. She says make sure you keep snacks spaced two hours away from mealtimes. Try to pair starches with a protein. Starch alone will make a child feel more sluggish.
The next tip really applied to me, since Lauren often rejects meals that I serve to her. I find myself scrambling for something else that she WILL eat. Joy recommends having one "fall back meal." If the child refuses what you've served, then you always feed them cereal and fruit. No other offers. Joy says make sure the fall back meal is something that requires no cooking to put together so you don't turn into a short order cook.
If you've read the Baby Blog before, you already know I'm a little finatic about my daughter getting enough sleep. These days she goes to bed between 6 and 6:30 p.m., and gets up between 6:30 and 7 am. She takes a nap in the middle of the day. Joy's next tip is to make sure your kids are getting the sleep they need for their age. Kids who are sleep-deprived will be hungry and want to snack all day, she says.
Next, limit TV time. That's pretty self-explanatory.
Finally, break up the stroller ride time. Joy recommends that once your kids are walking, when you go for a walk, push them in the stroller for half of the walk, and let them walk with you next to the stroller for the other half. She says it's a great way for them to get exercise, even though it may be more difficult for the parent. I'm thinking it might really difficult to pull that off since I normally push Lauren in the stroller and walk the dog at the same time. But hey, it's worth a try!