Google “picky eating” and you’ll get 5,220,000 results on everything from “How to Handle Picky Eaters,” to “Is Picky Eating An Eating Disorder?”
It’s a topic that is on the minds of most parents today.
In fact, according to a survey by Abbott, 58 percent of moms say the most significant challenge they deal with on a daily basis is making sure their child eats healthy and nutritious meals.
Another recent report found that although most parents know that healthy eating habits during childhood will affect their children’s health throughout their lives, only 17% say their children’s diet is “very healthy.”
As a mom of two young kids, I know that picky eating is frustrating. From snubbing vegetables and shunning new tastes and textures, to refusing to eat altogether, meal times can be a real challenge.
But picky eating isn’t the problem. Kids need to eat healthy because their lives depend on it.
Food is Medicine
You already know that healthy food nourishes your children’s bodies and minds and gives them the nutrients they need for normal growth and development.
But what your kids eat today will affect them for the rest of their lives. Feed them plenty of saturated fat, packaged, processed foods, refined grains and sugar-laden treats and you can almost guarantee your kid will be at risk for the laundry list of medical conditions and diseases that are killing Americans at an alarming rate.
Things like type-2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, leaky gut syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), autoimmune disease, sleep apnea, depression, anxiety, thyroid disease and cancer.
Of course genetics and lifestyle play a role too, but nutrition has a lot to do with it.
Whether your children are overweight or stick thin, they need to learn what healthy food looks like, how to eat healthy and how to have a healthy relationship with food.
The time is now
When you were pregnant, you did everything you possible could to ensure your pregnancy was a healthy one. You ate healthy and exercised, selected the best medical provider and stayed away from sushi. You knew that the health of your pregnancy would ultimately affect the health of your baby.
When kids become toddlers however, things change. Of course you care more than anything about raising a healthy child, but many parents loosen up about what they feed their kids.
Sure, what you feed your kids now may not have any affect on their health. But if you truly want to raise a healthy kids, you need to start now.
In the U.S., our medical model isn’t built around wellness and disease prevention. For example, although heart disease is the number one leading cause of death, we only pay attention to middle age men and women who are at risk instead of preventing heart disease by teaching kids how to eat healthy and exercise when they’re young.
But they’re kids!
You might think, “But kids should be kids! I don’t want to rob them of their childhood.”
To me, that sounds a little extreme. And absurd.
Feed your kids healthy=take away their childhood?
That’s like saying you shouldn’t discipline them, or teach them right from wrong, or instill a sense of responsibility and independence in them because it could potentially ruin their childhood.
I’m not suggesting that kids shouldn’t enjoy cookies, ice cream and birthday cake. Of course they should. But a majority of what they eat should be healthy, whole foods.
Like anything else that comes along with parenting, it won’t be easy but it can be done.