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Too Much Junk Food!

by Elizabeth Pantley, Author of Perfect Parenting & Kid Cooperation

My kid thinks “chocolate” is one of the main food groups! She eats way too much junk food, and not enough healthy foods. How can I help her develop better eating habits?

Think about it:
Kids tend to focus more on immediate gratification than long-term benefits, especially when it comes to eating. It will take education and behavior modification to change your daughter’s eating habits.

Purge your kitchen:
Many children will eat junk if it’s available to them. The first step, then, is to make junk less accessible. Clean out your cabinets and refrigerator. Keep only a minimum amount of treats on hand. If you absolutely must have your chocolate, keep it hidden from little eyes. Interesting alternatives: Kids aren’t going to get excited about carrot strips and apple pieces! Keep a supply of tasty healthy choices available. Look for low-fat, low-sugar snacks that will appeal to your child. There are many types of muffins, bagels, breads, fruit-based snacks, puddings, and crackers that make good snack choices.

Powerful Habits:
Children tend to have favorite foods that they eat over and over. Try to replace the old favorites with a similar but healthier choice. For instance, if your child often eats potato chips, try to find a salty, crunchy replacement, such as pretzels. If your child is hooked on candy, choose licorice, jellybeans, or hard candy in small quantities as a better choice. (Note: Do not give hard candy to young children who may choke on it.)

Get moving! Encourage your child to be more active. Bored kids who aren’t staying busy may fill their time by eating. Enroll your child in a club, sports team or get her started with a hobby or craft activity. Replace old habits, such as munching in front of the TV with a more productive activity.

Copyright Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, 2003)

About the Author:
Elizabeth Pantley is the author of several books, including
Gentle Baby Care : No-cry, No-fuss, No-worry — Essential Tips for Raising Your Baby, The No-Cry Sleep Solution: Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night, Kid Cooperation (with an introduction by William Sears, MD), Perfect Parenting, as well as her latest The No-Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers and is also president of Better Beginnings, Inc. She is a popular speaker on family issues, and her newsletter, Parent Tips, is seen in schools nationwide. She appears as a regular radio show guest, and has been quoted in Parents, Parenting, Redbook, Good Housekeeping, American Baby, Working Mother, and Woman’s Day magazines. Visit Elizabeth’s web site

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