Feeding Healthy Kids

Even the most health-motivated parents encounter an endless array of challenges in feeding their children well on a regular basis. From industry-influenced dietary guidelines and aggressive junk-food marketing to crappy “kids’ menus” and the sad reality of school lunches, there’s no shortage of nutritional troubles out there. Here’s our advice on overcoming what you can, and giving your kids a head start on a healthy life.

This week on The Living Experiment, we’re talking about Feeding Healthy Kids — the challenges involved with that, and the choices that matter most.

We talk about overcoming the unhealthy eating habits today’s children are culturally programmed to adopt, and how parents can successfully sway their children toward healthier preferences — even in the face of dietary mixed messages and misinformation.

We explore how nutrition can influence both kids’ current health status and their future health outcomes.

Finally, we offer you some experiments to help you nudge your own family in healthier directions.

“Feeding Healthy Kids” Episode Highlights

  • The confusing messages parents receive from government guidelines, nutrition “experts,” mass media, and ubiquitous marketing from the processed-food industry
  • Two words for a healthy diet from birth through adulthood: Whole foods
  • Getting and keeping kids on a healthy path: Parental modeling of enthusiasm for healthy living, honest conversations about food choices, preparing meals at home as a family, and (sometimes) tough love
  • Why nutritious eating at any age — and embracing a healthy lifestyle in general — requires active rejection of a lot of our cultural norms (a great example of what Pilar calls “Healthy Deviance”)
  • Tips for healthy meals (including school lunch), and why it’s OK to meet kids in the middle while they’re transitioning to better nutrition
  • Paying attention to symptoms of food sensitivities in your children — digestive and skin problems and earaches are the most common — and how elimination diets can help pinpoint the problem

Start the day with your kids, eating a meal of protein and vegetables (example: Eggs, sausage and wilted greens). Talk with them about how they feel after eating a healthy breakfast, and how it compares to eating a breakfast laden with flour and sugar.

Consider the health status of kids a few years older than your own. Notice the health problems they’re beginning to develop — weight issues, allergies, skin conditions, asthma, attention and behavior challenges, etc. Evaluate whether it might be worth making some changes now in the service of warding off any future food-and-lifestyle related troubles for your own children. Regardless of what you decide to do, empower yourself with proactive inquiry rather than feeling a victim of inevitability.

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