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Updated on July 7, 2016

Maybe now I would be classified as an "Old Foggie," but I really don't understand why parents have such a hard time getting kids to eat healthy. Before I became a parent, I was taught at home and in school about the need for healthy foods in our diets. Not so much by words, but actions. At home, there were always fresh vegetables and salads on the table. If I wanted dessert, I had to eat at least one vegetable or a salad. This really wasn't a problem since, this is all I knew. I remember as a small child when I wanted a snack, mama would give me a hanful of fresh, crispy lettuce, or a stalk of celery, or a bright, sweet carrot. I loved tomatoes, so sometimes I would get a whole tomato, and she would pour a little salt in a napkin for me. Candies and sweet stuff, were presented as special things. As children, daily, more than once or tce a day, sugary stuff wasno way expected. It was a treat to go to the store with change and be able to get bubble gum, dots, gumy bears. Usually this was a Saturday afternoon date with my neighborhood friends (after chores).

When I had my first son, because of how I was raised I knew the importance of vegetables. Sure all kids aren't going to like all vegetables, but when we as parents take the option of the sweet stuff out of the eating equation, the child eats - healthy stuff.

I had one son that would not, no way, eat peas. But he ate a variety of other veggies. I had another that refused beans, like butter beans, or black-eyed peas. But again, there were other healthy things he could eat. I didn't have the time or the money to cater to different meals for each one (at that time I had four), but the menu contained something for all, but healthy. Dessert, whether cake, pudding or a candy bar just was not given until after the meal. No eat, no dessert.

Did I get tested? Of course! Kids wouldn't be kids if they didn't test the rules, but parents have a responsibility to be the parents. and be consistent. Dinner can be fun when kids know from the beginning (birth) what you will or will not do. Then you don't have meal chaos.

There were times when an exception was made, and a popsicle or something was given during the course of the day, or an afterschool goodie - just because. It was appreciated. It was also fun for them and me to make the dessert or the treat together for after dinner.

Exercise was also a must. But it wasn't called exercise, it was called play. I cannot understand all day playtime of being on the computer; sitting and doing nothing. Summertime was spent riding bikes, playing ball, marbles, tag, or just walking (in groups). Going to the park, and meeting kids from all over the city (after chores were done). Today, I know we have safety issues for our children, more than in the past. but there are clubs like the Boys & Girls Club, summer camps that parents in need can apply for scholorships. Even when I was on welfare, moms, pooled their resources and loaded up the maybe one neighborhood car and took off to have a day outside with the kids.

We parents set the standard for nutrition and exercise with our kids. Remember, just because Johnny and Susie sit all day, and eat junk food all day - doesn't work in our house.

What happens if the kids are older, and are used to eating unhealthy foods? Sit down and talk to them and let them know why there is going to be a change, and find out their favorites, and dislikes. My second set of children were older and from different backgrounds. So it was an adjustment, and a learning experience for all of us. But parenting doesn't change, so expectations are voiced, limits are explained. My kids (both sets) got so sick of me saying, "I have a responsibility to....)" But today, they take the same approach with their kids. It surprises them they are turning into me - lol. Children may tell you they don't like anything healthy, but if that's all there is - I betcha' they will evenually find something they like.


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    • writerjay profile image

      Jay Johnson 6 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      Thank you so much! When I started doing parenting classes, it was an eye opener to healthy and common sense things are are not getting passed along.

    • profile image 6 years ago from upstate, NY

      W-jay-- Thank you for this wise and useful advise! To many of us this is just common sense, my mother served outmeal and fruit in the mornings, a healthy lunch, and a dinner with 2 fresh vegetables. She thought it was scandalous to put frito's or twinkies in a kids lunch pail. This kind of old-school parenting is sorely needed today!

    • marriednokids profile image

      marriednokids 6 years ago from California

      This is a great hub WRITERJAY.Since I am already 37 and not a parent. I am going to be an old parent myself.