Kids used to a steady diet of sugar and fat can change — and parents can help make the switch less painful. “It’s about balance,” says Babs Benson, R.N., director of the Healthy You weight management program at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, Va. “Frequency and quantity are key.”
Emphasize moderation. Offer junk food occasionally — not daily — and keep portion sizes as small as possible.
Educate kids. Explain that you’re making a change not to punish them but to help them be stronger and smarter.
Continually introduce healthier snacks. Instead of Oreos, offer sweetness in the form of graham crackers or small boxes of raisins. Try fun shapes—like celery stalks with peanut butter and raisins, a.k.a. “ants-on-a-log”—and healthy dips such as hummus.
Make homemade versions of favourites. Create pizzas with whole-wheat muffins, tomato sauce and low-fat mozzarella cheese, or cook “fries” by spraying potato wedges with olive oil, sprinkling on salt and baking at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes per side.
Don’t cut out snacks. Kids need them to maintain energy. Just put out healthy choices when you know they’re hungry, perhaps with a small treat on the side.
Get rid of junk. If big bags of chips and candy aren’t in your pantry, no one can raid them.
Involve kids in food preparation. They’ll be more likely to try new foods if they have helped select recipes, pick out foods and cook.
Make family meals a priority. Serve plenty of lean protein, fruits and vegetables and whole grains. You’ll be setting a good example and reducing the temptation to grab junk on the fly.
Offer nonfood rewards. Stop using junk food as a prize for good behaviour.
McClatchy News Services