Well I’m away in the country at the moment down at my parents’ place, which is an eight hour drive from Sydney. And long drives are always a challenge with kids, but this time it was a particular challenge to find healthy food to eat. Because we needed to be quick, but I didn’t want to just fill Birdy up with junk.
I generally try to avoid the fast food chains, but sometimes when you’re travelling on a public holiday there’s nothing else open. The thing is that if you stop at a bakery or greasy corner store and your child eats a pie or some hot chips, it’s not ideal, but it’s not necessarily habit forming. The problem with the fast food chains is that they’re so strongly branded that kids get to recognise them and then you’ve got to deal with the pester power every time you drive past. And I find wherever we stop, it’s really hard to find anything healthy for kids to eat. Even kids menus in cafes tend to be all chicken nuggets and chips.
Even when we’re not travelling it can be difficult to get our kids to eat well, and we go through periods where we’re just desperate for them to eat anything, (Birdy’s so skinny at the moment I’m throwing corn chips at her to fatten her up) but I think you’ve got to take a long-term view. But I have picked up some tips from reading and talking to other mums…
– Modelling is obviously important, because children learn their eating habits from adults.
– Avoiding commercial television makes a massive difference, because kids seem to be really influenced by advertising. Australian kids see on average 2200 junk food ads on TV a year so it’s no wonder that 1 in four kids are overweight or obese.
– Get kids involved with the shopping and the menu plans and the cooking because it gets them more interested in eating
– And I think offering a variety of healthy foods is good so they can choose what they like, without having World War 3 over the dinner table.
– And I personally believe that food shouldn’t really be used as a reward or punishment, because it can create unhealthy attitudes to eating that carry over into later life.
If you’re particularly interested in this issue, the Cancer Council, along with several other public health organisations are running a campaign to ban junk food advertising to kids.
Do you have trouble getting your kids to eat healthy food, or even just to eat any food? Do you have rules about eating, for example, you can’t eat dessert unless you finish all your dinner, or do you take a more laid back approach? What about the idea or using food as a reward for good behaviour? Are your kids overweight, or are you trying to fatten them up? How does it work in your family?
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