5 Horrible Mistakes to Avoid When You Change Family’s Diet


You’re a good parent. You work hard, love your kids, and if you’re reading this, you care about improving their physical health and you believe in the value of a healthy diet.
You’re right on target, because much like adults, physical health is important in every area of a child’s life. According to the Center for Disease Control, heathy children have better grades, better attendance, better behavior and lower dropout rates.
Not only that, but you understand that a healthy diet starts in the family. It’s silly for any parent to expect a child to make changes if parents don’t show them the way! They look up to you – what you do, they do (good and bad), and it’s important to put your best foot forward.
But because you have, like, a million other things on your plate, you may accidently slip into a few bad habits as you attempt to improve your family’s diet. It’s not your fault. You’re doing the best you can.
The best way to avoid mistakes is always to recognize them ahead of time, and be ready to cut them off as soon as they start to creep in. So, pat yourself on the back (seriously, right now), and take a few minutes to think through this list of the horrible mistakes to avoid when you change your family’s diet.
Think about what these mistakes look like in your home, with your family. That way you’ll be armored up and confident as you make your way through this “diet thing” with the people you love to feed.

Here are the 5 Horrible Mistakes to Avoid When You Change Your Family’s Diet:

1. Thinking that every meal has to be perfectly balanced.
When you’re just getting started changing your family’s diet, the most important thing is to sit down, at an actual table, with chairs that actually face each other, for longer than 15 mins. THAT’S IT.
In the beginning, it almost doesn’t matter what you serve. What matters most is that you create a relaxing and rewarding eating experience. That means you too – no pressuring yourself to “Betty Crocker it” every night! After you get into the routine, you can start to focus on the composition of the meals –but the first step is to sit down to eat and enjoy each other’s company.

2. Removing your everyone’s favorite foods in one fell swoop like an evil family dinner Thanos.
If your unfamiliar with Thanos, 1) have you been living under a rock?, and 2) he’s a villain in the Marvel Comic Universe who wipes out half of the world’s population because he wants to save humans from their own destruction. If you take your family’s favorite foods out of their diet with an easy snap of your finger, you make yourself the bad guy and no one will see any good in what you’re doing.
If your family is used to eating food high in fat, salt or sugar, their taste buds have become accustomed to expecting them and will find foods low in those flavors tasteless. It’s like when you have to wait 18 movies to meet the biggest record-breaking hero of all time and he dies in the next film (#spoileralert) – it’s painful.
Research shows that it may take 3 weeks for taste buds to “recycle” and accept new flavors as tasty.
Take your time transitioning your diet. Cook favorite foods in healthier ways. Use your favorite flavors in healthier dishes. Mix a little of the old with a little of the new.
Go slow. Be patient. And for goodness sakes, watch Infinity War already.

3. Insisting your kids eat the new, healthy stuff.
Have you ever told your kid to do something, for their own good, that they didn’t want to do but they were like “ok, you know best! Good looking out! I love you!”?
Probably never.
When you’re trying to teach a child to independently eat well, and you attempt to push them past the point of refusal, you are teaching them that they can’t trust their own food choices. While they certainly still have a lot to learn from you as they grow, this particular belief leads them to grow into adults who don’t trust their natural eating instincts – and this may lead to all types of disordered eating and chronic dieting.
Your job is to create a mealtime, then put a variety of tasty and healthy food options in front of them. Their job is to eat it. If they don’t, they can either help themselves to something else or wait until the next meal. (I know that sounds harsh, but I promise you that no one ever died from skipping a meal and it’ll probably only happen once for them to realize you’re seriously NOT a short-order cook.)
Research says that a child may have to see a new food 10 or 15 times before they try it.
Again, be patient. You’re the calm, cool coach – don’t let them see you sweat.

4. Using dessert as a reward for eating healthy food.
I know, I know… Nothing gets a kid to choke down broccoli like the promise of ice cream after, but just think about what you’re teaching them in that moment.
If they’re legitimately not hungry, and you press them to eat anyway, you’re teaching them to override their bodies signals of hunger and fullness – and to that they don’t have to be hungry to eat.
If they believe that high sugar/fat/salt foods have special value, you’re teaching them that junk food is like gold – and it automatically becomes irresistible.
If they begin to reward themselves with those foods, you’re teaching them to associate junk food with emotions – and eventually they’ll begin to comfort themselves with those foods. And that leads to all kinds of dangerous disordered eating, unhealthy weight gain, and nutrition-related disease.

5. Not involving your kids in meal planning and preparation.
When your child feels like you value their opinion, aren’t hiding anything, and want to make them happy, they’re more likely to trust what you serve them and experiment with the new flavors and textures you’re asking them to try.
In their mind, all food comes from and through you, the grown up. Unless you take the time to involve them in what it takes to get food to the table, all they know is you go somewhere and buy some things, then do some kind of work in the kitchen, and *POOF!* hot food appears.
When kids know where their food comes from and get to have some input in what they eat, it takes away the mystery and gives them confidence to be independent, healthy eaters.

Your child is going to learn how to eat (and eventually feed themselves) from somewhere. If it’s not from you, it’ll be from the school system that saturates everything with salt and sugar, or the food manufacturers that spend $1 BILLION a year to advertise sugary junk food directly to them.
One path will absolutely lead them straight into brain fog, poor grades, poor attendance, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Which path they take is up to you.
Take heart, parent.


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