I am doing something a little different for my health and fitness post this week. Over the past week I have continued to do OK with my diet but my exercise is lacking down to a few medical issues as well as feeling poorly.
So, instead, I have the lovely Dr Orlena Kerek from Snotty Noses blog writing a guest post about why you should ensure that your children eat their vegetables. She was recently featured as a newbie showcase on PoCoLo and, as well as her blog, Orlena has been published on MindBodyGreen and used to edit the BBC health pages.
Getting children to eat their vegetables can be a tricky business. If your kids are anything like mine, they will happily pick out all the lovely pasta, leaving a soupy mess of healthy, tasty vegetables at the bottom of the bowl. I know I’m not alone. Many of my friends tell me they have problems and at times it can be a real area of stress and frustration to parents of young children. As a baby, their child would eat anything, then they hit toddler-dome and suddenly they refuse to even TRY vegetables. The Battle of the Pea, is not an uncommon phenomena!
Sometimes, it makes you wonder why we bother. Won’t our children be alright on a diet of pasta and cake? You hear many stories of people who survive into adulthood and haven’t touched a green vegetable for years. They appear alright, so why shouldn’t our children?!
Actually, there are many reasons. As a paediatrician, I would say the most common reason is constipation. Perhaps not life threatening, but deﬁnitely not very pleasant. Paediatric clinics around the UK are full of children with constipation. Often they don’t realise they have constipation, they complain of a sore tummy. “What’s your favourite vegetables?” I ask. “Chips,” they reply.
Still within the paediatric population, we can see an increase in weight problems and even type 2 diabetes that is normally see in over weight adults of a certain age. Sadly, it is now presenting in obese teenagers. Not only is the disease itself not very nice, but it comes with a host of complications that develop over the years. So the younger you get it, the longer you have to develop those complications.
And further into adult life, there are other things that are linked to diet. You can reduce your risk of certain cancers by modifying your diet. (Bowel cancer and red meat being the prime example.)
So, yes, it is worth the effort. The diet that your children eat now is probably what they will eat when they are adults. Clearly there is room for some change, but the point is, if you can get them eating healthily now, those are habits that they will hopefully keep for life and pass onto their children.
But what about all that fuss? All those shouts and screams? Well, there are many sneaky tricks that you can use to help your kids eat their vegetables. The most important thing though is to relax and look at the big picture. This is a life skill you’re teaching. Each individual pea or carrot doesn’t matter, or at least, is not worth ﬁghting over.
Whenever you can, eat healthy meals as a family. Children learn from what they see. If they see you eating a healthy meal they will eventually follow suit. You don’t have to take ages cooking, or use expensive ingredients. Kids prefer simple food like pasta with vegetable sauce, but make the sauce yourself rather than getting it from a jar.
How about presenting them with a variety of healthy vegetables with a dip? Move away from just carrot sticks and you’ll be surprised. Last week my 3 year old decided that he like celery the best of all the crudities I gave him. Sure, they won’t eat everything, but they’ll eat something.
If you keep at it and relax, enjoy meal times and make food fun, you’ll get there in the end.
I’m Dr Orlena Kerek and I blog at snotty-noses.com about raising healthy happy children and living in Spain with my 4 young children. I like vegetables and children who eat them. If you’re interested in more great tips, I’ll send you a copy of 30 Tips to get your Kids to Eat and LOVE Vegetables when you sign up to my newsletter.