Change is hard, especially for children trading a junk food diet for healthier fare, but getting children to eat healthier is possible and it's imperative. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 19.6 percent of children were obese in 2008. Obese children also are more likely to develop diabetes, cancer, stroke or high blood pressure.
For years, parents have tried to market vegetables as tasty and fun instead of healthy. And for years, kids have rejected the ploy. So it's time to reinvent vegetables. Enhance a peanut butter sandwich with a carrot nose, cucumber eyes and a smile made from peas. Bake squash and small pumpkins and serve it straight from the gourd or scoop out the insides with a melon baller. Serve the balls in a cup and sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar. Mince or shred carrots or peppers and serve inside sugar-free gelatin cups.
Children love bright colors and whole-grain tortilla chips come in a variety of colors. Serve with a healthy bean dip, fat-free cream cheese or fresh salsa. Banish white bread and replace it with whole grain wraps, muffins and loaf bread. Cut sandwiches with cookie cutters. Enjoy low-sodium microwave popcorn. Replace high-sugar cereals with granola or sugar-free versions.
With summer comes the temptation to eat ice cream and ice pops. Save money and calories by making your own. Many stores sell ice cube trays with shapes children will adore: fairy wands, stars and even fish. Mix up a batch of sugar-free lemonade and pour it into the cubes. Cover the trays with foil. Then carefully puncture each cube with a wooden craft stick, available at craft stores. After the cubes are frozen, remove the foil and voila, better for you ice pops. In the winter, try baking your own high-fiber, low-calorie treats. Use whole wheat flour instead of bleached white flour and apple sauce, orange juice or a sugar substitute instead of sugar.