Kicking the Junk Food Habit!

Very few of us can resist eating junk food so imagine the battle in getting your kids to stop eating it. The sad fact is that junk food is all around us - you can't get away from it. How to get kids to kick this habit can be a huge problem. You may never be rid of junk food entirely but here are some ways you can introduce "healthier foods" into your kids' diets and help them reduce those junk food cravings!

▪ Start by being a good role model and establish a solid foundation of healthy eating habits while your children are young. Create an environment that encourages nutritious eating for everyone, so no junking it in front of the kids! Try to prepare 3 nutritious meals and 2 healthy snacks per day. Content kids are less likely to seek fast food. Educate kids at an early age about nutrition and smart food choices.

▪ Take your kids grocery shopping. Teach them how to read labels and how to identify unhealthy ingredients.

▪ Bring healthy snacks with you on outings so you won't have to buy anything at the snack bar.

▪ Offer younger kids many new and different varieties of foods - this keeps things interesting so they don't get bored, always eating the same foods. If they don't like something, don't force them to eat it but do try again at a later time.

▪ Try switching to low-salt variety of their favourite snack chip or crackers - it's a start! Even better, opt for baked snacks instead of fried. Choose popcorn or pretzels instead of potato chips for a quick nibble. Buy lower-fat, lower-salt, sugar-free versions of your kids' favourites.

▪ If your kids are into sweets, try baking your own treats and reducing the amount of sugar and fats.

▪ If your kids can't live without candy or chocolate, save it for a special occasion rather than an everyday indulgence. Make it a once a week treat.

▪ Offer fruit juice instead of pop. For a carbonated treat, mix 1/2 cup of fruit juice with 1/2 cup of plain carbonated water or sodium-free soda water.

▪ Instead of an ice cream, try frozen yogurt desserts or a real fruit frozen juice pop. Try a fruit smoothie instead of a milkshake.

▪ If you must have pizza, eliminate the high-fat toppings such as sausage, pepperoni, and meatballs, and stick with vegetable toppings instead.

▪ As a treat, try to make "fast food" at home. Tacos, burritos, fajitas, and pizza are dinners that most kids love.

Practice healthier eating habits! Eating some junk once in awhile should be allowed but it should be the exception, not the rule.

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