I'm writing this more as a "go to" piece for my future reference. You know, those days where I may have a picky eater on my hands or those days where I may want to give in and say "here ya go kid." This is my reference of what I and many other people with much more knowledge than me, would recommend.
1. Limit the processed food.
Who doesn't love a good dose of processed goodness every now and then as it sure makes life easier? Boxes of macaroni and cheese, cereals, cookies, etc... are some of the things we like to easily whip up at moments where we really don't feel like putting forth the effort. Step outside the box and bake cookies from scratch so you know exactly what is in there and opt for meals that don't come in a box. I always judge my shopping cart to see just how much "boxed" stuff is in there. For me personally it is not about the calories in the box, it's about the chemicals and preservatives in the box.
2. Stay away from fake drinks.
Carbonated drinks and artificial fruit juices are the worst ever as they are loaded down with sugar (and horrible chemicals). Toddlers really don't even need exposure to juice, but watered down 100% juice can add some flavor to help your little one drink more water. Older children should drink 100% fruit juice as these are full of natural sugar and usually consist of only about two ingredients. Save the other stuff for rare treats or for instances, such as birthday parties, where it is less in your control.
3. Opt for fruit and healthy snacks.
Sure this is so much easier said than done, and I only have a one year old. However my goal is to always opt for fresh fruits, yogurts, cheese, etc... for snack time in the future and to have the "good" stuff on occasion. And hey, if you're going to have the good stuff such as baked goods, cookies, cakes, etc... then make it a joint effort and have your little one help you bake. At least you can make some chocolate-y covered memories!
4. Don't reward with snacks.
I'm not a fan of the "if you eat your food, you get dessert" tactic and hope to use it sparingly if ever in the future. I want my child to eat because she knows she has to eat what's there in front of her, not because at the end of dinner comes a cookie. I already try to practice this by not giving snacks soon after a meal, particularly if she didn't eat much. Now, unless I'm in a restaurant and can only have peace while she eats some puffs, then I bite my tongue and give them to her. ;)
5. Realize perfection is impossible.
Children can't eat a perfect, balanced diet 100% of the time (at least not most kids). I personally LOVE my cookies and milk and as my children get older I'll have to try and nix the habit to prevent being a hypocrite. However, perfection is impossible and children do deserve to live a little. We can't hide every processed, calorie filled thing out there from there for forever; but we can give them a healthy diet with restrictions and rules. Introducing healthy eating habits early will hopefully do some good for their future! Start now and try your best...it's all we can do!
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