Teachable Moments: Healthy Diet Pyramid

I’ve been trying very hard to get Gavin to eat more healthy foods.  This has been one uphill battle for me since our household isn’t exactly renown for healthy eating.  There’s just too much junk food around the house…  I guess this is one of the down-sides of extended family living (unless the entire family is health conscious).

One of the problems about exposing a child to junk food is that once they have a taste for it, they will always have the taste for it.  It’s a habit that is difficult to kick.  The best thing is to avoid exposing them in the first place.  Unfortunately, that’s a little too late for Gavin.

So what’s a mother to do but try to encourage her child to consume more healthy foods?

In an effort to introduce greens into his diet, I’ve decided to take a two-step plan.  Gavin’s been pretty resistant at dinner time.  Even if I can get the veggies into his mouth, he gags and sounds like he’s about to throw up.  So I figured the easier route is to start with the fruits.

Most mornings, I blend a fruit-yoghurt cocktail in the Vitamix to start our day.  It’s like a smoothie, but better because I don’t dilute it with ice or water.  The typical concoction might be something like this: yoghurt, banana, grapes, and orange.  Sometimes I might add strawberries, raspberries, cherries, or an apple.  If the mix is too thick, I’ll add some milk.  I used to add ice to make it cold, but now I just freeze the banana or the grapes and it has the same effect.  Personally, I think this is one of the most pleasant ways to consume a variety of fruits (including the sour varieties which I don’t like).  Unfortunately, for Gavin, I might as well be trying to convince him to eat his greens…

This morning, I told Gavin that if he didn’t want to drink my very delicious yoghurt drink then he wasn’t allowed to have his junk food any more.  Naturally, he went berserk.  When he was calm again, I took the opportunity to teach him about the healthy diet pyramid.  We talked about all the foods that he needed to eat a lot of and how they kept him strong and healthy.  Then I explained that junk food were bad foods that we needed to limit.  I acknowledged that they taste nice and that everyone likes to eat them because they taste nice, but because they weren’t good for us, we have to make sure we don’t eat too much of them.  Most of all, we had to make sure that we eat all the good foods first so we don’t get full on junk food.  We could have the junk food after we ate our main meals.  Ideally, it would have been good to eliminate the junk food altogether, but I figured that was being a tad unrealistic, so I opted for reducing the consumption quantity.  After that, I showed him pictures of the healthy diet pyramid and pointed out the different food groups.

I didn’t expect Gavin to absorb the lesson, but I figured it was a good start.  I was pleasantly surprised after lunch, when I allowed him a treat of Panda biscuits, that he didn’t finish the packet.  He gave the rest back to me and said, “I shouldn’t eat too much because it’s not good for me.”  He did a pretty good reiteration of my morning’s lesson on healthy eating which did me proud.  Unfortunately, the lesson didn’t stay with him until dinner time when he started asking for junk food again.  Ah well, baby steps…

Published by Shen-Li

SHEN-LI LEE is the author of “Brainchild: Secrets to Unlocking Your Child’s Potential”. She is also the founder of Figur8.net (a website on parenting, education, child development) and RightBrainChild.com (a website on Right Brain Education, cognitive development, and maximising potentials). In her spare time, she blogs on Forty, Fit & Fed, and Back to Basics.

9 thoughts on “Teachable Moments: Healthy Diet Pyramid

  1. Yes, I agree that the best way is to avoid exposing the child to junk food when he is very young, let him appreciate the taste of good-quality food, and he would not like junk food later on.

    I am so glad that my boy loves wholemeal bread to bits (his favourite snack) and he hardly had a cookie/biscuit at 16 months old. I skipped the teething biscuit altogether because I see it as tempting babies to like cookies. Ha, I grew up on loads of junk food and am so paranoid for my boy now!

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  2. Maybe you could make a pyramid chart with a little velcro Gavin that have slots for Gavin to first build his pyramid with proper food choices and then when he exercises or plays physically, his avatar can move up the pyramid and when he reaches the top of the chart he can choose the junk snack of his choice for a reward.

    We eat really nutritionally and want our daughter to be health conscious but we also realize we are battling tons of media and peer pressure even from seeing stranger children at the park holding certain drinks or snack containers.

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  3. MieVee – about the only thing we did right with Gavin was start him off with wholemeal. Now he only eats wholemeal. Occasionally, when someone buys white bread, I’ve noticed that he won’t really eat it because he doesn’t like it. Pity we can’t say the same about everything else.

    Yeah, I grew up on loads of junk food – especially when I was really little. My parents only started to get into the whole health conscious thing when we moved to Australia. I was able to make the changes in my diet pretty easily, although I was a lot older then and more motivated to do so. So maybe there’s still hope for my boys.

    Clarissa – The pyramid chart is an excellent idea! Thanks!

    You’re absolutely right about the media. There was a huge display of chocolate with rice crispies in the supermarket with a big blue dinosaur next to it. When Gavin saw it, we couldn’t get past it because he wanted it. We have never bought that chocolate for Gavin before.

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  4. Ben also the same unfortunately as me – junkie addict. I love Twisties….! So I ban all junk food/sweets/candies/chocolates, etc…at home. But sometimes I do buy to keep him quiet during my grocery shopping. 😦

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  5. weeeeee….panda biscuits my favvvourritteee snackk toooooo…basically i just discovered how tasty it is since i started working 😛 hahahaha….but most of the time i only chomp it when i am oncall…wakakakakka 😉 panda biskivit…nyom nyom nyommm 😀

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  6. *ahem where food is concerned…you’ll sure see miss valerie pop by…hehehehhehehehe 😛 miss catchin up with uuuu…..

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