Family health

The challenge of getting your kids to eat healthy

After a difficult week of food battles, Maria enjoys the fitness aspect of the Healthy Family Challenge.

By Maria Stanley
The challenge of getting your kids to eat healthy

Maria's kids play a round of balloon volleyball.

It’s official: We survived week one — but just barely.

Thankfully, the kids are fully embracing the fitness plan portion of the Today's Parent Healthy Family Challenge. They love all the great ideas and are open to trying it all, which is fantastic. Our favourites so far are balloon volleyball, dance party and the family walks. We really enjoy taking a walk after dinner and the warmer weather has made them that much more enjoyable. We’ve been doing our Friday night dance parties for awhile now, so doing them more often is definitely a hit. The kids love when we turn off all the lights and use flashlights as strobe lights — it’s the little things. Another favourite is playing family video games that involve moving around a lot — our favourites are the Wii Just Dance 4 and XBox Kinect's Sports.

The meal plans have been more of a challenge, especially with the kids. The six-year-old is the most stubborn little person (no idea where she gets it from) and she’s officially not playing nice. We started out well, with her willing to try the roasted broccoli and cauliflower that I made one night. After that, I literally found myself bribing her to at least try something. The good news? She got a trip to Build-A-Bear for trying some veggies (yes, I was desperate). The bad news? We had to drive an hour-and-a-half to get there. Regardless of how stressful the week has been, we are still trying our best to offer lots of healthy choices during meals and offering fruit as snack options. I set up the dinner meals as a buffet style, with a protein, a carb and lots of veggies or salad. I’m encouraging the kids to at least try everything — again, the six-year-old is fighting it all the way. The positives is that we’ve cut out a lot of the sugar and sweets, encouraging lots of water and only ate out once (during what I like to call the "bribe tour" to Ottawa).

Personally speaking, I’m floundering a bit which is no surprise to me since I have perfected the art of over-promising and under-delivering. I know what I’m capable of, I know what I’ve accomplished in the past, but that inner voice reminding me that 100+ pounds is a huge number, keeps getting in the way. I am also an expert at negative self-talk, so I definitely have that going for me. Plus, at some point, food went from a necessity to a tool for dealing with stress or anxiety and it’s very difficult to break that routine. Believe me, I’ve tried many times.

Short of a lobotomy, I’m not sure how to break this pattern. Would love to hear your advice — a lobotomy sounds painful.

Looking for some fun foods to cook with your kids? Check out this Cooking with Kids video on making protein-packed granola!

This article was originally published on Mar 14, 2013

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