Helping your Family Adopt a Eco-Friendly Diet
One of the roles a mother must play that requires the most creativity, and has the greatest influence, is that of psychologist. My own research and experience have helped me to facilitate my family’s transition from the Standard American Diet (SAD) to a more natural and vegetable-friendly one over the years.
Successfully implementing a change like this takes a different set of tactics to engage the participation of children of all ages. The internet is full of clever and creative tips for getting vegetables into the younger children. Some of them work quite well. But realize that the longer your family has relied on unhealthy food, the more resistant they will be. So, the best place to start, whether you have infants or teenagers, is with yourself.
Do you love natural foods? Are there fruits and vegetables filling the shelves of your fridge and sitting on your counter tops? Does your family see you munching on humus-dipped carrots or broccoli? Do you make different salads in order to utilize produce in its freshest state? Do you regularly try different vegetable recipes that are flavorful and appealing? Or do you rely on frozen chopped veggies boiled in too much water?
Dr. Jennifer Fisher, who is a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine recommends that healthy foods be in the home, and not just occasionally, but on a regular basis. For example, bananas and apples dipped into peanut butter make a great after-school snack. When a child is hungry, eventually they will eat what is available and what they see others eating. As your children get older, you can’t control what they eat outside of your home, but you can be strategic about what is available inside your home. So refuse to buy sugar-, fat- or salt-laden foods.
Secondly, be patient. Sometimes kids are just picky eaters and it takes a while for their taste buds to mature. These changes are not going to take place overnight. A well-known study was done by researchers on nutrition and children’s behavior at Pennsylvania State University. Among their conclusions was that it takes preschool children as many as 10 tastes over a period of weeks before they embrace a new food. When children taste a food repeatedly, they will gradually become accustomed to eating it. Leann Birch, the author of the study says “We do know that repeated exposure to foods does lead them — when they are a bit older — to accept them and like them, even if they don’t eat them initially,”
And last of all, relax! This is not a war that needs to be won at any cost. Just make it a personal quest to always create new dishes with new produce. It’s OK if some food gets thrown away. Eventually, the new way of eating will become normal. Enlist the children’s participation in cooking, cutting, and choosing ingredients for meals.
Pleading and cajoling children into swallowing an item, just makes them all the more suspicious. Let it be no big deal to you. The only changes that will stick are those to which a child has participated in of their own free will. Eating vegetables should never be a punishment for children, literally or figuratively.
Eventually, your love for produce will impact your children. I speak from experience. After far too many scuffles with my 13 year-old son over my “health-food garbage” (his label, not mine), I finally stopped fighting. I cook the standard American fare a few nights of the week still. But I have my own dishes for myself, of which there is always extra for anyone that might be interested. Fresh produce also is always available.
I still have a normal teenager who salivates for pizza. But it is music to my ears to hear him say, when walking through the produce aisle, “Brussels sprouts! Let’s get some Brussels sprouts!” Why even just last night, he joyfully pulled out the blender and grabbed oranges for his fresh smoothie. I just smiled inside, because…he thought it was all his own idea.
Author Bio – Dianna is a Freelance Writer. She writes for the LDWriters Network which provides content for various websites. The network is currently promoting OPI Gelcolor to women as being their ultimate source for chip free manicures.