Convince your kids to eat healthier

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How to get your kids to give up the white stuff and making juice healthier.

Creative carb control

My 11-year-old son seems to only want to eat white food, such as white sugar, flour and pasta. He often won’t eat anything as I refuse to keep cooking a separate, plain meal for him. He sneaks food, because obviously he’s hungry. Is this just an immature palate or do I have a real problem here? How can I get him to like healthy food?

Starting to feel like you’re running a diner? Although, you can’t force him to like healthy food, rest assured that it’s normal for kids of all ages to go through picky stages. Here are some tips that may help to make mealtimes more enjoyable for everyone.

  • Include one food at each meal that you know everyone will eat. Quick ideas include: veggie and dip platter, bread and butter, plain rice or pasta, fresh fruit or meat with no sauce. Encourage your child to try all the foods.
  • Involve your child in the menu. If he feels he has more control over the meals it might make him a bit more adventurous.
  • Make snacks count. Try to include at least two food groups in each snack, such as whole-grain crackers and peanut butter, baby carrots and hummus, fruit cups, applesauce, popcorn, yogurt and oatmeal.
  • Lead by example. Show your child how much you enjoy healthy foods and keep the house stocked with lots of healthy choices.

If you have exhausted all of these options, it might be time to seek personal advice from a registered dietitian. To find a dietitian in your area go to and click on Find a Nutrition Professional.

Water power

My daughter, 8, hates to drink anything but juice. I want her to drink more water, but she just refuses. Can I give her aspartame-sweetened drinks?

Although small amounts of aspartame are considered safe for children, these products do not add to the nutrition of your child. According to the Pediatric Nutrition Handbook 5th edition: “The use of these substitutes to provide health benefits for children and adolescents has been inadequately studied. As such, they should not form a significant part of a child’s diet.” Another point about aspartame is that it has only been approved for use since 1981. At this time we do not know the long-term effects of consuming aspartame from childhood and throughout a lifetime.

Children over 40 pounds need about six cups (1500 ml) of fluid per day. This fluid comes from beverages and food. Children also need two to four cups of milk or calcium fortified soy beverage, depending on their age, to ill their calcium requirements. One undred percent fruit juice can be a part of healthy eating. It does offer vitamins, specially vitamin C, but it is high in sugar and calories. The current ecommendation from the Canadian aediatric Association is to limit juice o 1 ½ cups 375 mL) per day.

Make your juice go further

  • Make your own 100% juice from concentrate, but add an extra can of water to the jug.
  • Make your own “pop”. Mix equal parts 100% fruit juice with low sodium club soda.
  • Make fruit slush. In a blender combine equal parts 100% fruit juice and ice. Blend and serve.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Summer 2008.

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