Junk food is coming at us constantly..parties, school, holidays, sports… just about every occasion, event or celebration involves junk food. I don’t have the answers for getting it completely out of your kids’ lives (aside from putting them in a bubble!). That’s why I try to live by the 90/10 rule. 90% of the time we are eating well, so 10% can be treats. I let go of trying to police every little thing a long time ago. The older my kids get, the less control I have. And if you’ve tried to control your kids’ food, you know it’s a losing battle, and not really healthy in my opinion. So how do you keep junk to 10%? Here are my top 7 strategies that work in my house!
- Don’t buy the junk. I don’t buy bags of candy, Doritos or Little Debbie snacks. They just don’t come in the house. When my kids bring home treats from Valentine’s Day at school, we have a few in the house for a couple days. That’s not a big deal. It’s a big deal when you have that on top of fruit snacks and ice cream bars.
- Remind, remind, remind of what healthy foods do for our bodies and what treats do to our bodies. Speak in language appropriate for their age. Tell them about reading better, running faster, getting stronger for soccer, whatever makes sense to your child. Even if it doesn’t seem like it (and they are rolling their eyes at you), your words are sinking in there! Don’t give up!
- Be a good role model. If you eat chips, guess what, they will too. If you choose the side salad instead of fries at the restaurant, they will notice. They might not follow suit at that moment, but they will notice.
- When my kids were very small, probably around 2 or 3, I started the one treat a day rule. Today, they are so used to it that they are pretty good at self-monitoring, and I don’t have to harp on it all the time. They can have a cookie, a donut at church, or a sucker at Trader Joe’s, but then they know that’s it for the day. Many times, my kids have said no thank you to the suckers at Trader Joe’s because they know we are making cookies or something at home later that they want more. Honestly I wouldn’t even be a stickler about it if it’s a healthier cookie that I made, but my kids have become really really good at self-monitoring. Start young!
- I’m always stocked with healthy snacks my kids like. Peanuts, raisins, hard-boiled eggs, bananas, pears, apples, applesauce, string cheese, carrots and dip, bell pepper strips… there are always healthy snacks I can push them towards.
- I make my own healthier versions of junk food so we don’t feel deprived. We can still eat chocolate! We make banana ice cream. We use dates to make yummy candy-like treats. My kids are not stuck with just carrot sticks.
- Think and plan ahead… if there is a party on a Friday night and I know my kids will have junky pizza and who knows what else, then I pack extra-healthy lunches like smoothies (because I can pack so much nutrition with fruits and veggies into them). You need to plan to create a good balance in the day!
Honestly sometimes you just have to be strong and put your foot down. You can only control so much, but if you bring it in the house, you can’t expect that your kids won’t beg for it! If you need help creating a healthy balance in your home, contact me!