Monday, September 8, 2014

How Do I Get My Kids to Eat Healthily?

Why have our girls been so flexible as to eat without complaint any new food we’ve placed in front of them?
This is the question I’ve tried to come to terms with since it was first put to me a few weeks ago through social media and after some deep thought I feel like I’ve got an explanation.
From the time our kids were born we had taken on the attitude and the role as the ultimate authority in our home.  We made it our goal and purpose, not to become our child’s best friend and playmate, but to be good parents!
As far as I am concerned a good parent is one who simply teaches their kids the proper way to behave and think like a human being.  I’ve always regarded my kids as unfinished people.  I would joke (kind of) about our kids when they were small that they weren’t people, but “people-in-training”.  And for those who might be reading this who might have taken classes or might have experience in leadership, you might know that the most common ways to train employees or a team involve both positive and negative feedback.  Basically, you praise people when they do well and adhere to their training and correct them when they don’t.  The same holds true of our philosophy concerning child-rearing. 
As THE parent I feel I am in the position to decide what foods we serve for dinner, unless, as a rare treat, the kids get to pick their meal as a reward for something they accomplished.  This means that most nights the “people-in-training” will eat what we provide them.  Well, what happens when they refuse to eat what you’ve given them?  If the child decides they will not eat what we have provided, I simply explain to them that we will not be making them anything else to eat and if it is their decision not to eat; well they can look forward to breakfast.
Hunger is an incredible tool of persuasion, furthermore, it is instinctual for a person or any other organism to eat when they are hungry.  So before I get responses to this piece declaring my ineptitude as a parent for allowing my kids to starve you must understand that I have never had to put a kid to bed without dinner more than once.  Hunger is so powerful a tool that once your child understands that you are not afraid to let them go without, they will hesitate to challenge you again.
So to summarize, we never considered how we would get our kids to eat the healthier options that we were providing and we didn’t ask for their opinion.  These were the changes we were making and we trusted that if there were any objections they would be easily quelled through our stubborn refusal to be bullied by our children and the physiology of hunger. 
Parents…you are in charge, don’t be afraid to let your kid go hungry if they decide not to conform to your eating habits.  Not only will they survive a night without dinner (and trust me they will, especially if kiddo is carrying some extra weight themselves) but you will also be making a powerful statement to their “person-in-training” brain that you are in charge and you WILL stick to your guns.
And do not be swayed by tears, you must remind yourself that the changes you are making are not just for your own health but, as your kids look to you to learn how to become a person, it is for their improved health as well. 
It is better to have them upset with you now than to be forced to bury them before their time!!
Happy Running!!
Rob and Jess