It breaks my heart watching kids eat today.

Most American children live off fast food and processed foods.  Many never even touch a fresh vegetable.  I believe most parents have just given up because they don’t want to “fight the battle” of trying to convince their kids to eat healthier foods.

The world bombards us with fast food ads and commercials about the latest sugary children’s cereal and candies.  It’s a battle that is truly hard to win.

Let’s Start From the Very Beginning…

I believe the key to healthy eating for children begins when they are babies and toddlers.  Breastfeeding is of course the best way to start a babys health off right.  If breastfeeding is not an option, I suggest making your own formula.  My favorite recipe is here:

However, if you still want to use store bought formula, make sure it is organic and soy free.  Soy acts like estrogen in the body and is terrible for developing infants.

I also follow and suggest the Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) guidelines for introducing solid foods.  It is their philosophy that since a baby is getting primarily fat and protein from breast milk, that fat and protein foods should be the first to be introduced. At 6-9 months, avocados and egg yolks are given instead of rice cereal.  According to the WAPF, grains should be the very last thing introduced and only after a child has turned one.

Introducing your child to health protein, fats and vegetables as at early age is foundational for their taste buds.  If the only thing your baby gets is puffed cereals and sweet fruity things, then they will crave those carbohydrate-based foods as they get older and the cycle of craving unhealthy foods only becomes worse (See recent article on Cravings and What Your Body is Telling You).

Monkey See. Monkey Do.

Some of the best advice for feeding my children came from my midwife.  My second child was around 9 months old and I didn’t have the time to make the homemade organic baby food that I made for my first child.  She told me, “Feed your kids what you eat straight from the table.  Just mash it or puree it.”  What a fantastic idea!  It saved me so much more time.

However, this only applies if you are eating healthy food.  For example, if I made a roast, I would mash the carrots and potatoes and puree the meat.  This is a great way to introduce you child to different flavors and textures.  It is also good because it holds you to a higher standard of healthy eating.

Our family still holds true to my midwife’s recommendation, even now that my kids are much older.  I never make separate meals for my kids.  What I make for dinner is what they eat, as well.  My children have learned to eat everything from ethnic to all American cuisine.  If you start them young, then they will appreciate all kinds of different foods.

If you observe children in China, India and many other countries, they eat what their parents eat.  Their moms aren’t making them fish sticks with french fries while they eat curry and rice.  The children grow up eating lots of vegetables and are accustomed to various spices and flavors.  Feeding your children bland foods only narrows their palette and causing them to turn their head to new tastes.

Weaning Your Child of Junk Food

Starting your children young is by far the best way to get them eating healthy for life.  But, what if your kids are already eating junk food and you can’t seem to get them to eat healthy?

My best advice is to start slowly.  If you throw out everything and replace it with fruits and vegetables, then you are not going to get a good reaction.  More than likely your child will be angry and reluctant to eat any of it.

However, if you slowly exchange the junk food for look-a-like alternatives, you can successfully slowly wean your child of the “junk” without them realizing it.  There are natural fruit snacks, potato chips – and even pop tarts – that don’t contain “fake” ingredients. Here are the top ingredients you want to watch out for and eliminate.

  1. High fructose corn syrup
  1. Artificial colors and flavors
  1. MSG
  1. Hydrogenated oil
  1. Any ingredient you cannot pronounce (If you don’t know what it is, then it probably isn’t food)

Once your children are off fake food, their taste buds will begin to change.  Before you know it, they will be trying new things!

Another great tip is to always keep their favorite fruits and vegetable available and ready to grab.  I keep them cut up in Tupperware in my fridge.

A Good Example Goes a Long Way

Remember, you can’t expect your children to eat what you won’t eat yourself.  Set a healthy example for your children by eating healthy yourself! Creating a healthy eating foundation can change the course of your child’s life for the better.  Good health is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.