Food Dudes to the Rescue

Can’t get your kids to eat their veggies? Well have you tried dragging them through a lettuce patch with their mouths open? Just kidding, don’t do that, dirt stains are hard to get out. Seriously now, according to Dr. Fuhrman the key to getting your kids to eat right, is to lead by example. From Disease-Proof Your Child:
No rules only for children. If the parents are not willing to follow the rules set for the house, they should not be imposed on the children. Don’t argue about what your children should and shouldn’t be eating; discuss this in private. As parents, we must be consistent, but not perfect. Likewise, it is okay for the children to be consistent, but not perfect either. For example, if the parents decide that an unhealthy food or a restaurant meal is acceptable for the children once per week, then that goes for the adults, too. Setting an example supported by both parents is the most important and most effective way for your children to develop a healthy attitude toward food.
Clearly most parents don’t heed this advice. Otherwise why else would new research cite obesity as the most important health issue facing children in the United States? In fact, 98% of the people surveyed believe that responsibility for childhood obesity lies with the parents. More on this from HealthDay News:
The survey showed that responsibility for helping to address the obesity issue in the United States lies to some or a great extent with parents (98 percent), individuals (96 percent), schools (87 percent), health care providers (84 percent), the food industry (81 percent), and government (67 percent).
Okay, so let’s assume the worst case scenario. Your kids are obese and you haven’t exactly been the best role model for healthy eating. What should you do? Have your kids drag you through a lettuce patch with your mouth open? No. Instead take control now, consider Dr. Fuhrman’s tips in How to Help Your Overweight Child. Here are a couple good ones:
5. Make dietary goals that the entire family understands and can agree to adopt. Lay out an eating plan for dinners and school lunches that promotes long-term health.

6. Praise your child for issues not related to weight loss or gain. Make other issues as important, such as school work, ethics, care for others, attitude towards learning, and development skills.
Of course if all else fails—and you don’t live near a lettuce patch—just call THE FOOD DUDES! Who are The Food Dudes you ask? Just a group of mild-mannered preteen superheroes on a mission to promote healthy eating amongst youngsters. Maria Cheng of the Associated Press tells their tale:
The Food Dudes series uses peer pressure, peer modeling and a reward system to get kids to shun unhealthy foods. Prizes like small toys, pencils and pens are an enticement. And the superheroes are slightly older than their viewers, making them believable role models. Each character gets super powers from one of four healthy foods — broccoli, carrots, tomatoes and raspberries.

In Ireland's pilot program, which began in 2005, children aged 2 to 11, doubled the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten and in some cases boosted consumption of such foods by 10 to 14 times, the organizers say.

In one primary school, the fruit consumption of 5- and 6-year-olds more than doubled. The kids were originally eating 28 percent of the fruit given them; six months later they were eating nearly 60 percent. Vegetable consumption jumped from 8 percent to 32 percent.
Sounds like a good idea to me. Growing up my generation had Captain Planet and now lots of my friends are environmentally conscious. Hence me actually taking the time to find this quote, "Let our powers combine! Earth! Fire! Wind! Water! Heart! By your powers combined, I am Captain Planet! GO PLANET! "

Now for the many of us that can’t get our hands on those Food Dudes videotapes, have a listen to Dr. Fuhrman’s podcast on getting children to eat better.
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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
OMM - February 15, 2007 11:41 AM

I actually feel pretty blessed that my 3 year old begs for broccoli & edamame beans for snacks. But recently I had a conversation with my brother-in-law that he thought I was doing a "great disservice to my growing child to deprive her of meat enzymes". What?? How can I be sure that I am truly providing her with all that her growing body needs?

Michael - February 15, 2007 3:03 PM

What meat enzymes? Knowledge is your best weapon. Ask him to show you what is lacking in a healthy plant-based diet? B12 is the only thing that could be lacking. Look at the average American to see just what the current diet and lifestyle gets you: fat, sick and on medications.

OMM - February 16, 2007 9:38 AM

Thank you, Michael!
"What meat enzymes?" is exactly what I had thought. But I'm no pro so I thought I'd ask.

Lori_m - May 12, 2007 2:26 PM

He's talking nonsense. I've heard arguments re protein (false), iron (also false), B12 (true in completely vegan diets but easily dealt with) but meat enzyme thingies? Nah. Meat provides too much saturated fat, too much protein and too many calories while being deficient in most of the micro nutrients and in fiber.

Regarding how to ensure your child is getting all the nutrients he needs - read Disease Proof Your Child. Best book of its type on the market (in my opinion).

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