Just wanted to share one of our experiences from the last couple months and hope it's an encouragement to others. We have two boys, ages 5 1/2 and 7. They take turns being "the picky eater" and "the eat everything in site child". There unfortunately was a time when I would have been "glad" to have them eat a pop tart (at least organic) just so they would eat something. Over the past year we have made more and better decisions and commitments to our health which has resulted in a wonderful thing happening to our boys that I just noticed when we made a trip to an unfamiliar grocery story and I had to wander to find what I needed.
We usually only shop the produce section, the natural/organic section if we need flours and such, and the toilet paper aisle. This particular day I was looking for olive oil in a strange store and we ended up down the cereal aisle. I didn't think anything of it until my oldest made a dramatic display of wishing and longing and wanting choco-crunch or something, which of course had the younger suddenly wishing and begging as well. We quietly and quickly had a chat about why we don't eat those foods and on we went (I did notice a slight longing look over the oldest's shoulder as we walked away). Around the corner we came upon a display of gatoraid to which the boys began jumping up and down, "We need gatoraid! We haven't had it in FOREVER!" Again, I quickly explained why we don't have gatoraid. This time their response made me giggle, "Well then Mama, you need to make us some good gatoraid!" This response must be based on us frequently finding healthier options or us making a healthy, real food equivalent to the processed food or treat they are wishing for.
Then, just today, my dear hubby took the boys for a few last minute school supplies. Now, my boys are ALL about Angry Birds-these things seem to be in every facet of our lives: toys, sheets, pillows, stuffies, towels, legos, lunch containers, drawings, stickers, stories, and likely their dreams. This said, they saw Angry Birds candy of some sort and asked Daddy if they could PLLLLLEASE each get one. He thought about it, he picked up the candy, he read the ingredients, and then told the boys a few of the things in the candy. He could have explained to them that Titanium Dioxide is in the candy and that it is listed as a possible carcinogen, but instead my husband simply said, "Boys, there is metal in this candy, we don't want to eat that." I wish I was there to see their response, because they suddenly had no desire for the candy and were wondering why anyone would put metal in candy.
So many times I have heard parents complain or resign themselves to the fact that their child will not eat healthy. We are the parents, we put the boxed mac and cheese in the shopping cart, we swipe the card at the checkout for the chemical/sugar laden cereals, we don't put the candy and soda back on the shelf and tell them "no, this is not healthy for us." We the parents are responsible for what our children eat and drink. When our children whine and complain because they want to walk in the street instead of holding our hand on the sidewalk we certainly don't allow them simply because they complain. When our children beg to use the Chef's knife when helping with dinner we don't simply hand it over because they begged and pleaded. As parents it is our responsibility to educate ourselves and in turn teach our children both in action and through educating them what is truly nutritious, healthy, and the best for them.
Children are smart, they are quick learners, and they follow our examples much faster than our verbal directions. I encourage you to start taking steps, if you haven't already, to making healthy, nutritious, wise decisions for you, your child, and your entire family's health. Your future self, your children, and your grandchildren will thank you for it!