Your kids will always be exposed to junk food wherever they are. When kids are young, they spend most of their time eating at home, and that is where they form their habits, preferences, and fond food memories. For now, don’t worry about what your child is doing out in the world. You can’t follow her around every second if she is in school. Instead, focus on what you provide at home, and how you model good eating behavior. What kids learn at home, they often return to as adults, even if they make every effort to sit next to the kid at school with the Doritos and Oreos. This is your chance to make a true impression, one that could last a lifetime.
How to Phase Out Junk Food
You can’t just throw out all the junk at once and expect to call it a day. Anyone who has children, knows that probably isn’t going to work. Instead, it’s time to ease off the processed food and junk food in order to eliminate it. Do it too suddenly, and everyone will notice, and rebel! Do it gradually bit by bit, slowly replacing the bad stuff with better stuff, and your children may not even notice. Or, you might find that as you gradually re-train their taste buds, they actually start to prefer real food to the pale substitutes they think they prefer. Let’s go back to that one worst thing. Is it the soda? The cookies? The processed chicken nuggets? Whatever it is, gradually begin to replace it with an upgraded but similar food item.
Junk Food Replacements
If you have a pack of soda swillers, keep a pitcher or bottle of fresh 100% fruit juice in the refrigerator at all times, along with bottles of club soda. Show kids how to mix juice and club soda in a glass over ice, about half of each. Try different juices to find your kids’ favorite flavors.
If you think you do have a sugar-sensitive child, or if you simply know that your child eats too much sugar, it’s time to do something about it. You don’t need to banish sweet tastes from your home, but be a little stricter about the processed stuff.
There are so many sweet treats out there that don’t contain white sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Go to the store and explore. Let your child help pick out treats, and show him how to read the labels to look for the poisons: high fructose corn syrup and sugar! There are also a million different ways to make simple sweet treats at home.
Sweet Treat Replacements
1) Slice a banana and drizzle it with maple syrup and naturally sweetened or plain soy milk.
2) Freeze very ripe bananas (peeled), then put them in the blender with a little cocoa powder, agave syrup, and any kind of healthy milk (I like coconut milk). Blend it all together to make a delicious healthy milkshake or “ice cream.”
3) Make a parfait of plain non-dairy yogurt with fresh berries and agave nectar drizzled between the layers.
4) Sprinkle toast with cinnamon and “frost” with honey.
5) Serve real maple syrup over wholegrain pancakes or waffles. (Mix with regular “pancake syrup” to get your child used to the taste first.)
6) Try almond butter toast with a light drizzle of agave nectar, maple syrup, or even molasses or sorghum, if your child is adventurous.
7) Spread natural (unsweetened) peanut butter in a stalk of celery, and top with a line of raisins for the classic “ants on a log” snack.
Greek Yogurt Recipe for Your Kids
The video below shows you a great way to transform a plain Greek Yogurt, into a healthy sweet delight that your kids would thank you for. In addition, this snack is packed with antioxidants that would help ensure your child’s immune system is clear of free radicals.
Freeing your child from sugar’s sweet embrace, can feel like an insurmountable challenge at first, but it really only takes a week or two to break sugar’s grip. Soon, your child will actually be able to taste sweetness in so many other forms, from fruit to sweet potatoes, to the natural sweetness in spices like cinnamon. And remember, moderation is key. For some children, banning something for all eternity is likely to result in rebellion, or at least in resentment. Better to leave the real sugar out there in the world where your child will occasionally encounter it. Let home be a largely sugar-free zone, and reap the health, weight, and behavior benefits. They are significant!
Guest post by Barbara Rodriguez, the organic celebrity nanny. Her new book, The Organic Nanny’s Guide to Raising Healthy Kids: Reclaim a Natural Diet and Lifestyle for Your Child, is going to be released soon. You can find out more great organic parenting tips and sign up for her newsletter on the website- The Organic Nanny.