Most kids love fast foods, pizza, candy and sugary sodas and hate broccoli, spinach or cottage cheese, and that means when you’re at work during vacation, your kids are not just going to miraculously eat healthy out of their own free will. You could toss everything that is not healthy forcing your kids to eat well, but you’d be risking them going off to a friend’s house and getting their sweet and salty fix there, or you could put an emphasis on balance, thus increasing the chances of your kids eating better.
A sudden change in the way you stock your fridge and pantry will do no good, your children will be looking for some cookies or chips and if not at home, they’ll find them down the road at somebody else’s house. So instead of drastic changes, opt for sneaky, slow ones. For example look for juice with calcium, organic chocolate milk fortified with vitamin D, colorful vegetable chips, fragrant dips that only look junky yet are made with blended veggies, herbs and natural yogurt. Look for products similar to what you usually buy but make sure they have no preservatives, and with that one small change you’ll be making a big change in your child’s eating habits.
Don’t force your kids to stop eating everything they love, but rather provide them with healthy versions of their favorite treats. Ice cream, especially during a hot summer, is a must in many homes. However, instead of buying big containers or boxes of popsicles, make some at home. That way you’ll be sure what is in the desert your kids are eating and you’ll also be able to sneak in different vitamins or fish oil by adding a few drops of supplement to the mixture. As long as you don’t tell the kids the healthy addition is in their food, they’ll never know and will gladly enjoy a second popsicle.
Two popsicles in a day are okay, provided they’re home made and all natural, but any more could be bad for your kids. Fortunately, when you make ice cream or popsicles at home, you can control the portions by only preparing enough for one day. And as for portion control on other foods, one of the easiest ways is to prepare lunches and snacks for your kids in advance, because chances are if they have food ready, they won’t feel like looking or making something else, thus sticking to the right portion. You’ll also be able to add some nutritional value by tossing vitamin D, calcium or niacin rich products into the salad mix or the smoothie without your kids knowing.
It’s okay for the kids to eat something other than vegetables and omega 3 rich fish when you’re not around, you just have to make sure the kids know there are rules. If there are cookies in the house, having two with a tall glass of calcium and vitamin D fortified milk is a great snack; peanut butter is also good, and best with an apple; a chunky salsa can make it to the approved list if enjoyed with baked pita chips rather than deep fried corn ones. Simply have the kids eat their salad with grilled chicken for lunch and let them follow it up with a treat, and they’re more likely to eat the way you want them to, not the way the would rather choose.