Teaching Children Healthy Eating Habits

Teaching Children Healthy Eating Habits

Most Americans have a problem with self-control. You can see it by their expanding waistlines and I can hear it from the comments from the women in the chat room. Food is abundant and inexpensive in our country and junk food that is filled with non-food is available for practically nothing.

The Apostle Paul wrote about discipling the body. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate (moderate) in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

As I have mentioned before, I have to watch what I eat for the first time in 30 years because my stomach is better and I’m hungry. I can eat almost anything I want now and it’s fun BUT it’s easy to gain too much weight now. I have found that in order to not be overweight, I must feel some hunger pains between meals and not eat. It’s as simple as that. If I eat every time I want to eat, I would gain too much weight. I have a set weight limit and I stick with it. I want to discipline my flesh and make it my slave. I don’t want my lusts to control me. I wrote a post about this recently:

Michael Pearl wrote a post about training your children to discipline their eating habits and I am going to share some of it with you. I love his blunt and direct manner of writing and teaching. I know it offends some but it’s my kind of teaching!

If it didn’t make any difference to my health, I would eat fried pork chops and fried potatoes every night for supper. And I would top it off with a big piece of chocolate cake or pecan pie. I would drink a coke and eat cookies before bed each night, and wake to a breakfast of bacon and eggs—fried in pig grease. Life would be a lot more fun if I ate what I wanted and as much as I wanted—that is until it started showing in pants sizes, doctor bills, headaches, crippling diseases, and indigestion medicines.

Self-control is self controlling self. The very term implies that some part of self needs management, and that some part of self should limit or control the other part. It is a contest between the body, which has no values—sweet will always taste better, and the mind which is informed as to the need of exercising some restraint.

Small children are not yet equipped to deny themselves. If a parent allows the child to choose what he will eat, when he will eat it, and how much he will eat, he will make the wrong decision every time. I started by saying, ‘retraining children is hard because it demands everything from the will of the parent.’ The burden falls entirely on parents. And that is where the problem lies….

Your children don’t want to eat their meals; fine; don’t make them eat anything. Forget it. Let them eat what they want when they want it. Just go home and throw away all sweets, all pre-prepared foods, all greasy foods, and stock your home with nothing but basic staples—rice, beans, potatoes, raw and cooked vegetables, whole wheat breads, oats, lots of fruit, nuts, dried fruit, and fruit juices. Them let them eat as they will. How simple!

Picture this. It is breakfast time. The table is set with oats or scrambled eggs, real butter, honey, orange juice, and wheat toast. They are invited to the table. All must come and sit, but it is their business whether or not they eat. If they do not eat, ignore them. When the given amount of time is passed, the table is cleaned off. Fruit is available at any time.

There will be nothing else to eat until lunch, at which time you will place in front of them beans, rice, salad, a cooked vegetable (not corn out of a can that has sugar in it) or what ever suits your fancy. It is up to them to eat. If they don’t like it, it is no concern of yours.

Supper will be at five, and there is always the raw fruit to eat. Supper is similar to the noon meal. Eat all you want, kids; there will be fruit, but nothing else until breakfast. You say, ‘But my children sneak food.’ Fine, let them sneak into the kitchen and eat anything they can find—a slice of wheat bread, cold beans, or rice. There is nothing else to be pilfered.

The dog ate all your junk food last week and died of constipation. Ah! But you say, ‘My children would cry and refuse to eat.’ Don’t worry about them not eating. They will eat when they get hungry enough, and a three day fast would be good for them if they are coming off the junk food.

There it is: the easiest answer and the easiest solution to a common problem. The only draw back is weak-willed Mamas and Daddies who can’t give up the junk food themselves. Don’t expect to lead your children closer to self-control than you are willing to go. Set the example.”

Some have told me that children will gorge on junk food if they are deprived at home when they are away from home. Children gorge on junk food whether or not they get it at home but it’s our job as parents to train our children in the way they should go when they are under our roofs. Teach and model to them healthy eating patterns and it will benefit them for life!

10 thoughts on “Teaching Children Healthy Eating Habits

  1. Thank you for this, Lori. I completely agree and think it’s a wonderful post! What would you recommend to a wife who wants to do this, but her husband does not? How can this wife help her children? My friend is a working mother whose children are overweight. Her mother or husband (both overweight but not my friend) care for the children while she works. She was just talking about wanting to help her children but not knowing what to do. She said most people tell her that her children are tall, so they will grow out of it, but I disagreed. My tall children are quite slim. We eat little processed foods and I cook and bake from scratch. I make my own broth and just recently started making yogurt!

    Thank you! You are such a blessing to me, the only godly older woman I have to ask these kinds of questions to! I’ve followed your blog for several years now.

    1. If a husband does not have self-control and eats a lot of junk, just do what you can to feed them as healthy as you can since you are the one mainly buying the groceries and fixing their foods. But as you know, we can’t change our husbands!

      In the woman’s case that you mentioned, it’s extremely difficult since she isn’t the one who is caring and feeding them the majority of the time. All she can do is to set an example and pray that her example with influence her husband and children.

      I am thinking about making yogurt, too! I eat it often and made kefir for many years but I love the thickness of yogurt.

      It takes more time to cook from scratch and make healthy food but this is what we were created to do – care for our families and you’re doing a great joy!

  2. Thanks for another great post! I appreciate Michael Pearl’s straight forward manner of speaking as well. I remember using these same teachings with my last child. I never had a picky eater among them except for her. Using Mike’s advice on this broke her of a bad habit.

    Also.. since starting my menopausal years, I’m finding it more difficult to lose weight. However, the fruit of the Spirit is self- control, and I can do all things through Christ…right, Lori?!! I’m thankful I found help with the Trim Healthy Mama diet, too! Praise the Lord! By the way, you can still treat yourself to bacon 🥓 and eggs 🍳 on this plan!😃

  3. Yes, we eat bacon and eggs and I bet he does now, too, since this article by him was written long ago (17 years ago) when eating too much fat was a no no. I have heard great things about Trim Healthy Mama but I try to simply eat foods the way God intended them to be eaten and not too much as I am sure they teach. I do love the Pearl’s teachings and am have been so blessed by their no-nonsense approach!

  4. We are making a big effort to teach healthy eating habits to our child.
    In particular we are very well aware about the addictive nature of sugar: the more sugar you eat (and it doesn’t matter in which form) the more you crave. Simple as that. And you have only a finite amount of willpower in your day, so you can’t rely on willpower only. That’s why for many people a diet that says “no cookies at all” is much more easy to follow than a diet that says “one cookie only”, because (and it’s partly genetic) they simply cannot resist the temptation and they will eat the whole box of cookies.

    Since our child is only 3 and we are in control of 99% of his meals, we are exposing him to a very broad range of flavours, which is very difficult to do if the child has been used to regularly eat sugar (broccoli or olives will taste bitter or sour if the child is used to eat and drink sweet stuff all the time).

    We are realist and we know that in the future we’ll be less in control and we plan to teach him why a healthy diet is important. However we believe that now it’s our responsibility to make sure that he gets used to a broad range of flavours and he’s able to appreciate many foods. We also make sure to carefully prepare tasty meals, since nobody likes overcooked vegetables, scorched meat , and so on because if we want him to appreciate healthy food it must be palatable (otherwise he will turn to junk food as teenager).

  5. Thank you for the post, Lori! I have the opposite situation because I never get hungry. If I only ate whenever I get hungry, I would eat only breakfast everyday. After a good breakfast, I eat enough food at lunch time and dinner time to sustain me throughout the day. Thanks and blessings!

  6. My daughter LOVES fruit. She is almost 3 and I have to watch how much I give her since her gut issues get worse when she eats too much sweet even fruit. She pretty much never eats sugar. I’m not sure Michael Pearl’s approach would work for her because I make a plate for example breakfast with soaked gluten free pancakes with tiny bit of raw honey and ghee drizzled over them and she gets a duck egg (allergic to chicken) and maybe some small amount of fruit and she eats the fruit and pancake and I have to keep reminding her to eat her eggs. Eventually she will, but my husband and I get tired of reminding her. Some people would save the eggs for next meal. It sounds like M. Pearl wouldn’t suggest that, but then lunch is usually gf tortilla with beans and meat and avocado for example and she will eat the tortilla and take a long time to eat the healthier stuff like meat and beans. Not sure how to remedy that one. Overall, she is WAY better than she used to be. We have been working on her gut and her cravings seem better, but still not a fan of meat or veggies. :/ Do you just let your kid eat the parts they want all the time and leave the healthier stuff or just make them sit there a while until they eat it all? Always enjoy your posts and am sharing them on my facebook frequently! 🙂 ~Kate

    1. Based on my own experience, forcing your child to eat all the food will eventually backfire especially with a strong willed child.
      When I was young, my mother would force me to eat yogurt everyday (back then a lactose free diet would have been unthinkable) and as soon as she couldn’t force me anymore I stopped eating yogurt at all (to my defense, it was skimmed milk yogurt, in those fat phobic days..).
      About your daughter, I would suggest to make sure that she eats a bite or two and leave it there. I would also try to prepare the food differently. For instance my child (who eats practically everything) didn’t like hard boiled eggs but he liked omelette. So I consistently offered him omelette and by and by he started to eat hard boiled eggs as well. Think also about food temperature (when I started with solid he would only eat warm food), texture (cutting the food smaller made a big difference for us) and flavour (put a pinch of salt in her food and use herbs and spices). Some children like some vegetables only if cooked and not raw (or the other way around). Others prefer to eat with a spoon rather than a fork.
      In the end, it’s about figuring out how to adapt your way of cooking to your child’s preference without becoming a short order cook.
      Good luck!

  7. Oh and if you have never soaked foods overnight you should try it! You would totally love it!! I make pancakes and soaked oatmeal from healthy home economists blog. My digestive issues and my daughter’s issues are so much better when we eat soaked foods constantly. Still learning how to make the yogurt myself, but the grains I have been super impressed with! And totally understand not snacking. I am just learning myself that I have to say no and can’t eat like I’m pregnant, but I am nursing a big 8 month baby boy so I try to keep that in mind as well and snack once a day most days, but not 2-3 x times a day like I want. :/ Here’s the link: http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/video-proper-preparation-of-grains-and-legumes/

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