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Want Your Kids to Eat Their Greens? Try This Surprisingly Simple Trick

Want Your Kids to Eat Their Greens? Try This Surprisingly Simple Trick

Let’s face it. Kids are the ultimate skeptics, especially when it comes to upbeat songs about broccoli, assurances that peas and carrots are the very reason people grow strong and tall, or stories about Popeye’s spinach dependency.

Recently, however, research has shed some light on why sometimes even our most inventive tactics don’t seem to make healthful food more appealing to kids.

Don’t tell your children it’s good for them

According to a study from the University of Chicago, children are actually more likely to reject food when they know it’s good for them, and all our cajoling often only strengthens their resolve and will make them not eat whatever it is we want them to try.

“You influence what your child eats by choosing to serve certain foods at the table. Adding reasons and trying to convince them to eat often doesn’t work and can actually backfire,” says lead researcher Professor Ayelet Fishbach.

She explains that children seem to think that food can’t serve two purposes: it can’t be healthy and taste good at the same time.

So if you tell your kids that carrots are good for their eyes or will help them read better, it actually makes them less enthusiastic about eating them because they feel that if carrots are so good for them, they can’t possibly be delicious, too.

It’s better to say nothing than to praise the food for its healthiness

The children participating in the study listened to stories about a girl who was having a snack, and were then given a snack of their own. Each time the story presented a certain food as being good for them, the children ate less of it.

For instance, kids rated crackers as less tasty and ate fewer of them when the story mentioned that crackers would help them count to 100.

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So what’s the takeaway for parents?

“Just serve healthy food and make sure all you serve is healthy,” says Fishbach. “You can say that it’s yummy, but we didn’t see that it helps beyond serving the food and saying nothing at all, although it doesn’t hurt either.”

Of course, it’s only natural to want to encourage your kids to eat healthy foods, and your first instinct will probably be to tell them about all the great vitamins and nutrients that will benefit them.

But, if you frequently find yourself engaged in mealtime struggles, a better approach would be to simply bite your tongue and serve that spinach or cabbage without praising its healthiness.

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Be a role model

Another thing to be aware of is that children tend to be very responsive to role models, so when they see their parents eating and enjoying something, they will be more open to eating it as well.

“Serving a personal example is great. Your child will mimic you,” Fishbach explains.

Phil Casey, trainer and assessor of Allied Health courses at Open Colleges and father of two, agrees that giving an example is important, and adds that reducing snacks between meals and giving mealtimes structure can also help kids to form healthier eating habits.

“I cannot stress the importance of family mealtimes enough,” he says. “Giving structure to mealtimes is a good tactic, as children like routine.”

He also warns that;

“Once kids have finished, there should be no coming back as this can generate behaviour that is not ideal at mealtimes, as they will feel that they can just pick at their food and it will still be there later.”

So, in short, don’t make a big deal about serving healthy food, If you want your kids to eat their greens, just serve them and be a role model by eating and enjoying them yourself without going into detail about the nutritional value.

Kids are smarter than we give them credit for, and if you’re already extolling the benefits of broccoli or cabbage before it even hits their plate, they’re going to assume that there is a catch.

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Marianne Stenger

Writer, Open Colleges

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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