How to Help Your Kids Break Bad Eating Habits

by | Updated: October 12th, 2020 | Read time: 2 minutes

Recently, Middle Girl said to me, “Mom, when can we go back to eating the old food we used to eat, before everything was organic?”

I did my best to remain calm and asked why she was requesting the regressive change. “I miss corn dogs,” she said.

How to Help Your Kids Break Bad Eating Habits

“But I bought you corn dogs last week,” I retorted, referencing the organic turkey corn dogs in the freezer.

“They don’t taste the same,” she said with a forlorn sadness.

Making changes to our food routine is hard. Like, really hard. If it wasn’t, there wouldn’t be umpteenth diet programs, prepackaged food delivery services and literally tens of thousands of specialty cook books on the shelves.

For kids, with their palates often limited by the highly sensitive taste buds of childhood and the biologically ingrained instinct to stick to foods they’re already familiar with, overhauling the food habits in your home can be fraught with complaints, trepidation and even tears.

“Sometimes, I miss those corn dogs, too,” I offered. Because that’s the truth. Imagine if your food choices were forced upon you, instead of being the autonomous decisions they are for you as an adult. That would suck! Instead of getting angry and frustrated at your little ones when they resist the change, be compassionate to the upheaval.

Start with small changes that won’t overwhelm their comfort zone. Replace one thing a week, or even a month, until that new item feels normal. Maybe replace those food dye and chemical laden lunch treats with the organic version from Annie’s Homegrown? Buy one new fruit or veggie each month, and let them help choose it. Or read through some recipes together and pick one to make together.

It’s important not to turn into Mommy Dictator when you’re transitioning your family’s food habits. So you made roasted organic yellow squash three times last week and your little one left his serving on his place each and every time. So what? Don’t yell, don’t freak out that he’s not leaving the table until he eats them. Just keep serving them. Eventually he will probably try them. The more we are exposed to new foods and flavors, the less “weird” they become.

And have compassion. What you’re doing goes against convention. Skipping fast food, cutting out food dyes and chemicals, buying organic peanut butter instead of that other stuff, introducing your kids to cereals they aren’t making commercials about, it’s all weird and new and doesn’t come in a shiny wrapper. It’s HARD. Acknowledge that, have compassion for the fact that change is hard, and empathize with your kids and yourself when the going gets tough.