Do We Have to Eat Our Medicine?

Americans love to obsess over what’s labeled as “good food,” even when they don’t always choose to eat it. We take the motto “You are what you eat” to mean we have to treat food as medicine. Now don’t get me wrong, I am all in favor of eating real food, the healthier the better. However, this tendency to glom on to

the latest food report that highlights this month’s top 10 super foods has us spinning to eat foods that “must” be in our diets to fight cancer, stay slim, lower cholesterol, knock out heart disease and prevent aging.

With every new top 10 list, we run to the grocery to stock up on required foods on the list . This year, the trends are chia seeds and kale. Last year, it was flax seed and pomegranate.

The message I see in this rotating list of must-eat foods is a need for variety in our diets. We need an array of colors, textures and flavors for our health and for our enjoyment.   The big question parents are faced with is how to get our kids to eat a healthy variety of foods, too. The key is to inspire our kids to eat foods that are green, purple, red and blue by doing so ourselves.

Eat a variety of foods.
Your kids do what they see you do. If they see you eating a variety of foods, they will be more inclined to try new things, and will eventually learn to love the foods you love.

Eat with your kids.
Again, your kids do what they see you do. If you eat a diverse selection of vegetables with your spouse after you put your kids to bed, they won’t learn to eat like you do. When you eat meals with your kids, they adopt your eating habits. They can’t help it.

Treat food as food, not medicine.
Unless it is the flavor of artificial grape or mixed berries, kids generally don’t like to take medicine. And fortunately, most kids don’t have diseases that need to be treated with medicines. When you treat food as medicine, you alienate your kids from sampling different types of foods. The words “take your medicine” have never stimulated anyone’s appetite. When you are serving healthy foods, add a little salt and olive oil to make them tasty. Kids enjoy eating food because it tastes good, not because it is good for them.

Eat a variety of food for the sake of eating a variety of food.
Kids are naturally curious. It is the one trait you can exploit to help them become familiar with food. Familiarity breeds a healthy appetite. The key is to get your kids familiar with foods before they eat them. Research different vegetable types, plant

or visit a garden, take them to a farmers market and let them see and touch all of the different vegetables. Take home one different vegetable a week and Google it. Find out more about it and how to cook it. If possible, taste it raw, then cook it with your kids and taste it again. It could be a fun weekend project. Once your kids know where a food comes from, and they have an opportunity to ask and learn about it, they will be much more inclined to eat it and like it.