By Laura Barnhardt Cech
Patti Burke can relate to the struggles to get your kids to eat healthy—it seems, at every turn, there’s something to sabotage your good intentions.
“Even at the (craft store), there are candy bars at the check-out,” says the Annapolis mother of three. “You go to T-ball, and there’s chips and juice after the game… Last week, it was Gatorade, which has a ton of sugar and sodium. Of course, it was blue so the kids loved it. It’s hard to say, ‘You have water in the car.'”
As much as a parent may try, the temptations are everywhere: commercials for sugary cereal that your kids can recite by heart, hidden sodium and preservatives, drive-thru fast food luring you as you rush from sports and lessons to get to homework and baths. And there’s the chorus from your kids, who love all things bad: donuts, hot dogs, French fries, chicken nuggets, soda.
Some of the “rules” about what is ideal have changed too. (The old food pyramid is now a plate.) There are now worries about “pink slime” in meat and preservative-laced snacks. Parents know what is at stake, from obesity to delayed development. Children may also be establishing life-long habits—as if there wasn’t enough pressure just to figure out what to have for dinner.
“Most parents try very hard,” says Brenda Zoltha, a pediatric nurse practitioner at Annapolis Pediatrics. “But our lives are busy. I think nutrition sometimes gets caught in the busyness of life.”
Read on for expert advice on how to make healthier choices and avoid some of the problems that you may not even realize are on your kids’ plates.