Want to give your kids the greatest gift this holiday season?

Stop teaching your kids to overeat.  Forestall their future as dieters. Then, teach your kids that even though calories count, that they don’t have to actually count calories (more on this later).

It’s tempting to think that calories don’t count for kids.

But they do.

According to the USDA, 2-3 year olds need 1000-1400 calories per day, but it’s incredibly easy to reach the upper limit midway through the day.  Especially if you rely on “kid-friendly” foods. Read The Truth About “Kid-Friendly” Foods.

Most processed foods have a ridiculous number of calories, especially when compared to fresh, natural foods. For instance:

Read Potato Chips Win Again! to learn about veggie chips; they’re not nutritional winners either.

Even though calories count, you don’t have to count calories.  

All you have to do is shift your children away from processed foods and towards fresh, natural foods, especially around snacks. Weight Watchers may never forgive you for teaching your kids not to fill up on high calorie foods, but your adults kids will be happy you did. Read Feeding Future Adults.

In fact, Weight Watchers has recently highlighted the economy of eating lots of fruits and vegetables. According to a recent New York Times article, Weight Watchers has revamped their famous points system and now fruits and vegetables are free. You should follow their lead and dole these goodies out as often as you can.

I know, you would teach your kids to eat fruits and vegetables if you could.

But here’s the cruel truth about these foods: you can’t teach your kids to eat them by plopping some peas on a plate once a day.  You have to make fruits and vegetables your “go-to” food.  Read Salad Days

Your kids learn to favor the flavors—and textures— of foods they eat most often. Food preferences are really just a matter of math. Read The Variety Masquerade and Pizza and Peas: The Untold Story.

Not convinced how easy it is for toddlers to gobble up 1000-1400 calories?

Breakfast: (Total Calories=380)

  • Cup of Reduced Fat Milk=120 calories
  • ½ Cinnamon Raisin Bagel=160 calories
  • 1 ounce Cream Cheese=100 calories

Daily Calories So Far=380

Snack: (Total Calories=480)

Daily Calories So Far=860

Lunch: (Total Calories=310)

  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich=300
  • 2 Carrot Sticks=10
  • glass of water

Daily Calories So Far=1170

Snack: (Calories=205)

  • ½ Apple=25
  • YoBaby Banana Organic Drinkable Yogurt=180

Daily Calories So Far=1375

Dinner: (Calories:=425)

Total Daily Calories=1800 … And this doesn’t even include cookies.

Sure, you can dicker with the numbers—subtract 100 calories if you serve Quaker Oats Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal for breakfast, add 100 calories if you serve PB&J for lunch—but unless you switch to a diet made up mostly from fruits and vegetables, your numbers will stay about the same.  You have to change the overall game.

~ Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits. ~