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How to Wean Your Child off Processed Food

Updated on December 18, 2014

Is your child a picky eater? Does he or she have a meltdown when you offer them anything that even resembles a vegetable?


Highly-processed food isn’t just unhealthy for your children, it is highly addictive. Once they start eating it, it’s very difficult to wean them off.


If you’ve tried switching to healthier fare in the past but given up because your child refused to cooperate, understand this: Your child is weaning off dangerous and highly-addictive drugs. The withdrawal symptoms are very real.


The good news is you can still wean them off junk food if you follow the steps outlined in this article.

1. Behavioral Problems

A junk food diet has been shown to cause behavioral problems.


Synthetic sugars, food dyes, trans fats, and refined flours wreak havoc with your child’s nervous and metabolic system. This can lead to anxiety, mood disturbances, sleeplessness, violent behavior, and sudden sugar crashes.


Behavioral problems often worsen for a time when junk food is removed because of the withdrawal. This is why your child screams and cries for certain foods. His system is craving addictive substances!

2. Learning Difficulties

Junk food additives such as high fructose corn syrup and food dyes have been shown to interfere with normal neurological function.


High fructose corn syrup interferes with hormone levels and blood sugar, leading to brain fog, concentration problems, and difficulty with information retention. Food dyes also overexcite your child’s developing brain cells, leading to premature cell death and learning dysfunction.

3. Stomachaches

Children who eat a diet laden with junk food often have chronic stomach problems because their growing bodies weren't designed to digest it. A child who eats this type of food may complain of stomach cramps, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and embarrassing flatulence.

4. Fatigue

Laziness is not the only reason your child doesn’t want to put down the video games and go outside. Children who eat nothing but junk food often have nutritional deficiencies that can significantly deplete their motivation and physical stamina.

5. Obesity

High fructose corn syrup has been shown to interfere with hormone and insulin function, creating a feeling of constant, insatiable hunger.


Even though she's heavy enough to be picked on in school, she is slowly starving at every meal.

1. Lead by Example

To wean your child off processed food, you must lead by example. If you’re chowing down on a fast food burger, your son or daughter is not going to be content with kale.


Start as early as you can. When you instill healthy eating habits at a young age, you won't have to sneak around to find out where they've hidden the candy and soda when they're older.

2. Prepare Familiar Foods

Suddenly switching from French fries to Brussels sprouts won’t go over well with a child addicted to fast food. This is why it’s so important to make familiar substitutes first and wean slowly.


Start making “fast food” favorites at home.


At your next visit to the supermarket, pick up grass-fed beef, uncured bacon, cheese, and organic buns. Homemade bacon cheddar cheeseburgers served with organic oven fries make a fun and tasty meal your children can easily identify with.

3. Introduce Healthier Fare

As you make these healthier fast-food substitutes at home, gradually introduce a new vegetable to their plate. After a day or two, make a fun, protein-packed salad together and let them choose the dressing.


One idea for such a salad is organic lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, hard cheese cut into small squares, nuts, olives, and crushed organic potato chips as a topping. They'll love it!


Then, the next time you make the salad, use a healthier dressing that tastes similar to your child's favorite. Use the same bottle if you have to. Whatever it takes to make the transition easier.

4. Eat as a Family

Growing a garden together, shopping together, cooking together, and eating together makes mealtime more meaningful. It also leads to a better understanding of where food comes from and how it affects the body.

Would you ever send your child to bed hungry?

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5. Stick to Your Guns

Once you start weaning your child off processed food, stick to your guns. Expect withdrawal symptoms and tantrums but don't give in.


If your child knows that she can have junk food snacks later, despite refusing to touch dinner, her eating habits will never change.


If your son or daughter is stubborn enough to go to bed hungry a few times, he or she will soon learn that mealtime is mealtime and what’s in front of them is what’s to eat.


If your child is skipping so many meals, you fear for his health, you can supplement some meals with homemade smoothies made from organic milk, yogurt, frozen fruit, and nut butters.

If, after following this process, things still aren't working out, consult your child's pediatrician. He may be able to offer more helpful suggestions or refer you to a nutritionist.


Weaning your child off processed food can be a real challenge but in the end, it’s worth it.

Sources:

http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/4/537.short

http://www.jpeds.com/article/S0022-3476(06)80164-2/abstract


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