If you are a junk food eater, your kids will be too. It is as simple as that. Parents shape their child’s tastes when they are infants with foods they introduce to them. As the child grows, parents become the role model.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity affects approximately 12 million children. Many factors can cause obesity: junk food eating, drinking high sugar juices and pops, lack of exercise and playing video games all the time. But the #1 influence is: HOW ADULTS TEACH CHILDREN TO EAT.
Why as a pediatric dentist am I mentioning this? Because unhealthy eating habits lead to cavities and cavities are COMPLETELY preventable. They are a result of poor diet and poor brushing. Adults should decide what children eat not the child and it should be healthy. The child will always pick the sweet high sugar item. I have many parents blaming their kids, like it is their fault that the 4 year old has cavities. NO, it is up to the parents and grandparents to say NO.
Ideas for healthy eating:
- Continue to introduce healthy foods: asparagus, broccoli, carrots. If they do not like them, try fixing them another way. Wait 1 month and try again. Tastes change as children mature. Experts say it takes 12 tries to develop a taste for something new.
- Make meal time fun. “It is not broccoli, it is trees”
- Get kids involved. Don’t ask, “Do you want peas?” because the answer could be “No”. Ask: “Do you want peas or green beans?” Then they make a healthy choice but still feel in control because they picked it.
Instilling healthy habits can be challenging, but starting young can mean a lifetime of healthy teeth and overall a healthy body.