Balancing Your Child’s Diet: Incentivizing Junk Food

Copyright: Nikodem Nijaki
Copyright: Nikodem Nijaki
By: Sarah McWilliams

Your kids want treats and you want them to have a healthy diet. It’s a constant struggle of letting children enjoy the foods they love while providing a balanced and nutritious lifestyle. One great way to promote that healthy lifestyle is to incentive treats with healthy foods.

Instead of rewarding your child with food for behaving in the grocery store or getting an A on their spelling test, reward your child for eating well with the occasional treat. If your kids want to order a pizza, make sure they eat a salad first. Your child will be more willing to eat the salad if they know that there is pizza coming after it. An added bonus is that they will be fuller from eating the salad having less room for the greasy pizza. When making the salad for your kids, make sure you use a healthy dressing and include lots of vegetables. Serving a salad with iceberg lettuce, croutons, cheese, and high fat dressing essentially defeats the purpose of what you are trying to accomplish.

Soda is another thing that kids crave that has no nutritional benefits. Although you certainly want to limit the amount of soda a child drinks, you can also insist they have two glasses of milk that day before they are allowed to have a soda. Milk contains essential nutrients and vitamins children need to build strong bones. Therefore, your child is getting the calcium and other nutrients he or she needs and also gets rewarded for getting their full serving of dairy. If you family has a non-dairy lifestyle, you can substitute other nutritious foods or drinks for the four glasses of milk.

You don’t have to completely cut out junk food and sweets from your children’s diet, but you should make sure they earn it. A child should not be allowed junk food as a substitute for a healthy meal, but it can be a nice addition and reward for consuming the nutrients that will keep them healthy in the long run.

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