Raising Adventurous Eaters: Lead By Example
One of the most important things we can do to encourage our kids to be adventurous eaters is to lead by example. I recently wrote about the importance of being adventurous here.
But what does this mean, exactly?
It means that, no matter where you and your family are in your journey toward better health, your success in raising adventurous eaters begins with the degree to which YOU are adventurous.
Before I continue, I want to make it perfectly clear that despite my passion for nutrition, my boys are not perfect eaters. This is not a post about how you should simply do what I do and your kids will eagerly eat everything you prepare for them. My boys still protest new meals on occasion. They sometimes try to sneak away from the table before I realize they haven’t had their greens. And they wrinkle their noses when they see me start up the juicer. Believe me, encouraging my boys to be adventurous eaters is an ongoing focus for me as well.
Despite the occasional protest, I’m proud of how adventurous they’ve become over the past few years. They really are willing to try almost everything, and I am convinced that this is due in large part to the fact that my husband and I are adventurous ourselves.
The bottom line is, you need to be an adventurous eater if you expect your kids to be the same. Talk openly about the healthy choices you’re incorporating into your own life. Explain why you’ve added new foods to your diet, and let your family see how much you are enjoying your food. Show your kids what you’re doing to incorporate more physical activity into your life, and share with them how much better you feel as a result.
I have experienced first-hand what a difference this makes: my family is much more likely to try a new food or activity when they’ve seen me enjoying it myself. I’ve seen how my boys light up when I share information with them about new things I’ve learned in the area of nutrition. They love being a part of the process and being involved in the choices we make as a family. And I love it too.
So what can you do demonstrate your passion for living a healthy lifestyle?
Model the behavior you’re seeking from your family. Make sure you aren’t eating anything you wouldn’t want them to eat. Let them see you eating a variety of healthy foods. Show them that you are learning to be an adventurous eater too, by trying new foods and recipes. Show your excitement. Keep things simple and fun. Provide plenty of encouragement.
Most importantly, don’t offer your child anything you wouldn’t eat yourself.
Products that have been specifically created for kids (think rainbow colored Goldfish crackers, sugary cereals, oatmeal packets filled with marshmallow surprises, flavored milk, etc.) were developed by marketers, not nutritionists.
These marketing-driven creations are loaded with sugar, filled with chemicals and harmful ingredients, highly addictive, and void of any nutritional value.
Again, if a product isn’t something you feel good about consuming yourself, don’t let your child anywhere near it.
Above all, remember that this is a journey.
Will there be setbacks and challenges along the way? You bet. The important thing is how you handle yourself in those situations.
Remain positive. Take one step at a time. Continue to lead by example. Try again.
Trust me, the rewards for doing so are great.
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If encouraging your child to become an adventurous eater is something you’re struggling with in your home, too, I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
Finally, if you’re looking for one-on-one support, I’d love to help you and your family THRIVE. You can learn more about my customized programs and health and nutrition coaching services here.