By Susan U. Neal RN, MBA, MHS
Kids have strong opinions about food. So teach them early to love the right kinds of food. Instead of grabbing a bag of chips or crackers, give them God’s food to eat—vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and after the flood, meat.
The secret to a child’s palette is introducing God’s food early and not the food manufacturers. Food companies add salt, sugar, and dyes to make their foods look and taste delicious. But processed food is not healthy. The more you eat, the less healthy you become. Healthy food is delicious and provides the nutrients a child needs.
Unfortunately, the childhood obesity rate for children aged 2–19 is 19 percent, according to the U. S. Centers for Disease Control. And kids who are overweight in kindergarten are four times more likely to have obesity by eighth grade. It’s easier to influence children’s food and physical activity choices when they are young, before they form unhealthy habits. So teach them that whole foods contain nutrients and processed foods don’t. God’s food contains vitamins and minerals to help children grow into the strongest, healthiest, and smartest, kid they can be.
Teach Kids Early
Educating kids in their formative years to eat a healthy diet and limit caloric-rich sweets and processed foods is key to decreasing the childhood obesity epidemic. Instead of serving pizza, chips, and macaroni and cheese, offer your child fresh fruit (blueberries, strawberries, persimmons), whole nuts (almonds, macadamia, pistachios), apples slathered with cashew or almond butter, organic popcorn drizzled with coconut oil, sliced celery, sugar-snap peas, and sunflower seeds. God’s food is delicious and healthy.
When children fill up on junk food, they don’t want to eat nutritious food. Unhealthy food tricks the taste buds into thinking that you don’t like the taste of God’s food. You think processed treats taste better. So you need to limit junk food to only occasionally. Something amazing happens once you stop eating junk food, within a couple of weeks, your taste buds return to normal, and God’s food tastes delectable again.
Don’t give kids processed products made with white flour because the wheat is stripped of its nutrients. Replace junk food with fruits and vegetables. And try produce items that your family has never eaten before. Drink water, not beverages loaded with sugar, caffeine, and dyes. Prepackaged foods can sit on the grocery store shelf for months because they do not contain vitamins and minerals. Teach your child to read food labels to see if the item contains added sugar, dyes, or other harmful ingredients.
Eat Seasonal Produce
A delicious combination of fruits and vegetables is available each season. Therefore, you shouldn’t get tired of eating the same type of food. The body benefits from the nutrients in the produce that ripens during that season. For example, citrus fruits become ripe in the winter when the body needs more vitamin C to prevent a cold. God thought of everything!
New Healthy Eating Children’s Book
To help parents transition to a healthier way of eating, a new children’s book, Eat God’s Food: A Kid’s Guide to Healthy Eating teaches kids what foods are healthy and unhealthy. In addition, it has activities and cooking adventures (recipes) to ensure kids not only learn but have fun too. A child will:
- Draw vegetables
- Identify fruit colors
- Seek and find fruit
- Find high-protein foods
- Count the vegetables they have eaten (50+ listed)
- Match nuts, grains, and seeds with their pictures
- Determine when seasonal fruits and vegetables ripen
- Identify unhealthy items on a food label
Encourage your child to eat from each of God’s food groups (vegetables, grains, fruits, nuts, seeds, and meat). Explain that eating a variety of colorful fresh food is healthier. God provided over one hundred vegetables and fifty fruits to choose from. So ask your child to pick out some new produce items at the grocery store to try. Eat God’s food because they contain the nutrients a child’s body needs to grow properly.
Susan Neal RN, MBA, MHS teaches both adults and children healthy nutritional guidelines. Not only that, she lives out what she teaches. She eats organic vegetables and fruits she’s grown in her own backyard. Susan loves to share with others what she’s learned about health and nutrition, and now she wants to educate children about developing wholesome eating habits. You can find Susan at SusanUNeal.com.