How can I get an 11 year old and 9 year old to eat more than just junk food?

Junk food is appealing, especially to tweens and teens who don't think about their health and just want something tasty and fast to eat. How can a mom get her kids to eat more than just unhealthy junk food?

40  Answers

8 12

Don't buy junk food! Wow. Look how simple that was.

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0 0

This is too simplistic! Kids run into junk food/processed food now and for the rest of their lives. They have to be taught about making healthy choices and why those choices are so important. If you don't give them those chances, when they leave your house, they might go crazy for junk, fast, and processed food while in college. How will you keep it away then?

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5 0

Being honest the best sauce is hunger.. and if you dont feed them the junk food then they will eat the healthy stuff... remember you are the parent and they are the children... dont have it in your house and hence they cant eat it....

12
182 16

First of all, don't make it completely forbidden, that will just make it more appealing. My DD is only 8 but we've followed the "moderation" rule since the beginning - all things are OK in moderation. So, I never say that anything is "bad", just too much of it is. So...since it's not forbidden, just limited, it's less likely to lead to an argument. We're often out running errands during the Summer and I explained at the beginning that we will not be stopping for fast food every day. So...except for once a month or so, we pack our lunch and take it with us. It's actually worked out well because she can eat when she is hungry, not when lunch is "scheduled". The other thing we do is Friday is her day to pick the dinner menu. If she wants junk, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, pizza, whatever, it's her choice. All other days are my choice. That way, she at least knows that there is one day to look forward to and doesn't complain on the others. Surprisingly, though, her requests have ended up being grilled pork tenderloin, marinated and grilled salmon. steak, etc. (hey, this kid is expensive, oops! ;-) ) In the end, as long as you modify and limit it but don't cut it out entirely, kids will tend to be more cooperative than you think. Also, try adapting the "junk" - that is, make your own chicken nuggets / strips with Bisquick and Parmesan Cheese, your own pizza with whole wheat crust (maybe on the grill, Trader Joe's makes a good one), make your own tomato soup, your own macaroni and cheese, etc., you may find they end up liking it better. If you roast things like parsnips and carrots in packets with a little olive oil and salt and pepper in packets on the grill or in the oven they are sweet and really tasty. Also, try growing your own foods. Since she was a little girl, bedtime snacks have been fresh peas from the plant, fresh raspberries or strawberries from the garden, fresh broccoli from the garden, etc. that she has helped grow and it's ended up being cool, especiallly when she began to be old enough to help plant and tend it. You could try growing a pizza garden and the kids could use that to make their own pizza. DD's 2nd grade teacher has a "Salad Day" each year where the kids as part of Science Class grown herbs and lettuces and then sample them when they are ready to harvest. It's amazing what the kids have found that they love. In the end, though, you are the boss and not a short order cook. Unless there are specific physical or emotional issues, what you serve is what will be eaten at meals. No snacks unless the regular meal is consumed at mealtime within a reasonable time period. If they are hungry enough they will eat what is on the menu. So if you don't serve the unhealthy stuff, they won't get it (at least at home!) It's going to take some patience and willingness to put up with complaining (and your spouse / partner if they are around will have to back you up), but you need to stick to your guns and not waver on whatever changes you intend to make and things will change. Also, if the older one is serious about sports then they will have to eat healthy to do well.

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9 4

to stop kids eating junk food is so easy...... just stop buying it if its not in your home they cant eat it just offer good wholesome food if they dont eat it straight away remove it an say thats ok .. kids will never starve themselves contrary to what you may think eventually they will begin to eat whatever you put in front of them with kids you have to let them know who is in charge.... its that simple sadly most kids of today have taste buds that revolve around sugar an salt an other nasties because parents have trained them that way if you want your children to be healthy the buck stops with you.... just do it

10
9 0

My eldest would starve himself, believe me! He's got a serious health condition and needs a high fat, high salt diet. He'd choose to not eat if we let him. Tough for the rest of us! So we compromise a lot and eat more junk than we'd like. Eldest son still eats what he's given however; we don't do fussy eaters. And both my boys love their veg, thankfully!

7 4

I have 2 teenage boys and I don't buy junk food all the time. I occasionally buy chips for a specific reason, and I buy just 1 bag. I do buy baby carrots and when they were younger I would put them in snack baggies so they could just grab and go, same with grapes. Now I have a fruit bowl on the table and when they are hungry they just grab something out of there. It works great and when they do get junk food like at their Grandparent's houses it's a treat. Once they start driving and working you do have less control so it's important to teach good habits from the beginning.

8
16 220

I think kids need to have some junk food in their lives, however as the parent we can control just how much. I have a 10 and 9 year old. What we do is I buy baked chips in the form of the snack bags. I tell them that these have to last two weeks so they need to be careful to ensure they last, and I do not replace them if they dont last the full two weeks. My boys have learned that mommy sticks to her word and have learned to self pace and to do portion control. Then I get things like yogurts, fruit, and fruit popsicles to be alternative snacks. And every Friday night is pizza night in my house. So I ensure they get some kid friendly foods.

We also watch shows like "Food Revolution" and "Rachel Ray" together. Then when the boys get excited over something the see on these shows, we go online and print the recipes and make a shopping list together for our next trip. These shows have not only educated my children about healthy eating but has introduced them to foods I know I never would have been able to get them to eat on my own. My kids loves vegetables, and they even had me make them a summer pea and watercress soup they saw on the "Food Revolution". They loved it!!!

I think because I have always been a big fan of healthy food, my kids have learned to be too. Kids learn by example. We dont eat out much anymore, and my kids dont seems to miss it anymore because it is no longer a habit. It is a treat once or twice a year now. As parents we can truly influence our children to eat healthier, we just need to stick to it, and be prepared for a fight..lol

6
1 15

ieve it or not this is easier than you think! My kids are 12 1/2 and 14 now. But the 10 and 11 ages were a struggle to stay healthy - especiallysince obesity runs in my side of the family. Anyway, get a cook book that is JUST FOR KIDS HEALTHY SNACKS...Scholastic has one and so does Pampered Chef. What they do is create fun things like pizza, ants on a log, smiley face wheat crackers with grapes and cheese...it's a lot of fun going through the book with them. Tell them to pick only two recipes that they want to try...trust me they will want to pick more...keep them to only two...let them believe this is 'special' and they are receiving special priveleges in the kitchen...then have them write up their own 'shopping list' and add whatever drink they would like to have with it. At the grocery store, give them their own basket and have them match the items to their recipe - you may have to bring the book with you - and we even let them ring their orders up seperatte so they have their own receipt (helps teach value of money, too). Then, once you are home - if you aren't going to make it right away (good luck with that) assign them their own shelf or drawer in the fridge and their own bin or cabinet for the dry goods.When it's time to 'create', trust me, they will be more than eager to get to it - AND - will not be too thrilled with having to share...Make them do something for the whole family so they see how great it is...We also got aprons and little rolling pins, etc so it is all theirs. It's a lot of fun and you may be exhausted, but they will be eating healthy...Also make sure you omit the unhealthy snacks for EVERYONE otherwise, this may not be successful. Also, involve them in clean up. We clean up before we sit down to eat, otherwise, once they eat - you have pretty much lost their attention. Always have a 'carrot to dangle in front of them'....Best od luck! By the way, my kids have continued this and are now making full dinners for us! This will stay with them!

5
2 23

Ddon't buy that kind of food, not even for the adults in the house. Explain to them the side effects of all the junk food, show them visuals if you have to. Let them know that the Cool thing to do now is eat healthy and work out and that all of their friends are doing it. They will follow eventually.

5
37 2

Don't buy it for them on a regular basis. Don't forbid it, but have as an occasional treat (1-2 x week). Buy healthier food and they will eat it. I ate alot of stuff as a kid I didn't care for. Junk/fast food wasn't an option. You ate what you parent's bought. Also helps if you don't eat junk and set a good example.

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39 13

don't buy it

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5 23

The best way for kids to learn good eating habits is by example...Eat well yourself and have easy healthy snacks readily available. A bowl of fresh fruit on the table, bottles of water, etc.

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14 8

My new motto: if food cannot go bad, then it is bad for you!! Trying to cook most things now with fresh ingredients.

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1 26

I get my 6 year old daughter involved from the shopping list to the preparation and she loves it! I try to switch out as many of the foods that she likes with the healthier, sometimes homemade ones. For instance, we make our own chips--->baked sweet potato chips with a bit of cayenne pepper sprinkled on; we dry our own fruits, like apples, strawberries and such; we make our own fruit juices, using only a blender, water (a little brown sugar, if needed). She loves broccoli and pasta, so we make wheat pasta with broccoli and chicken and she cleans her plate...lol! I do, however, allow her a small piece of white chocolate (her fav) once in a while and a piece of candy every now and then and lastly, she can have sugarless gum. And since I am trying to lose weight so I tell her she's my coach and if she doesn't eat right, then I won't, so we excercise in the morning and take a walk in the evening. She loves being in charge and being included in the decisions we make together (eventhough I am making those decisions for her).

Good luck!!

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2 15

You are the parent...Don't buy junkfood!!!

1
2 15

If you start them out eating right this wouldnt be an issue..My girls age 15 and 13 love junk food but they know its only a treat! They will just about eat any thing offered to them, well they will at least try it!! And they always have!!! even at 2 and 3 yrs of age!!!

9 0

Teach and model it.

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1 3

We have pop and candy days on Fridays only. They are allowed a couple of glasses of pop and are allowed to eat a little bit of candy. If they get any candy during the week they know that they have to save it until friday. Otherwise we just don't keep alot of junk food in the house. We have alot of fruit and chips are only for things like sleepovers or an occasional movie night. If its not there they won't miss it

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18 10

Don't buy it. If it isn't in the house, and you don't buy it for them when you're out, they can't eat it.

Have fresh fruits and vegetables cut up and available at all times.

Remember there is no such think as "Junk food". When eaten in moderation. Don't make it a forbidden fruit or your kids are going to just be hounding you for it, sneaking it when you're not around, and generally making life miserable for you. The occasional treat isn't going to hurt them, or you.

1
7 9

I agree with Karen, that it's good not to take things completely off the menu. We have a great book called Cook this not That by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding. The book shows you how to easiy make chicken wings, pizza and mac and cheese,etc. that is fun, healthy and diet conscience.
That said, getting your children to help pick meals, whenever possible, helps them make healthier choices, pita wraps and sandwiches with wholesome fillings are easy to make and healthy. Talk about what is in junk food and ask them to help you set up a better eating plan for the whole family. Making their own choices, within reason, will be of benefit for the whole family and help them make better food decisions in the future. Good Luck and happy eating.

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2 0

Ok so I had the same problem but my husband is just as bad as the kids. So I would hide my "junk" food and started only putting out a few things. I bought the little bags of chips and put one out for each person. When they were gone I would wait till next week to put out more. Same with all the junk good. Once a week I will make something like cookies or cake. The rest of the week it's all healthy food and I keep it chopped and ready so I can make healthy snacks when they get home. It's been working good for us. Hubby even lost a few pounds. And my son is crazy for apples with peanut butter.

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10 0

I have fresh fruits and veggies chopped and ready to eat in the fridge. I don't buy much junk, if we want cookies or sweets, we make them ourselves. I just had my son watch "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution". Sometimes kids need to see how bad the food actually is.

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1

how many times a month should they eat fast food?

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0 0

All of the 'Don't Buy It' comments are killing me. children are exposed to different environments. School, grandparents, family, and if the parents are divorced, you DON'T know what's going on when they are in the other's home.

Now, add all that together and what's a better answer than 'Don't buy it". Geeeez.

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9 0

TTry and avoid buying it; don't keep it in the house; that way they only get it when they are out. Offer them healthy (tasty!) stuff instead. If they won't eat that.... they can miss the od meal!

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61 1

How about not having junk food in the house and not introducing them to bad habits to begin with. How about eating together as a family and explaining the importance of healthy food at the dinner table. How about taking your child(ren) exercising with you so they can see how important being physically fit is? Yeah, that's all hard work, but it is possible and it works.

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4 0

I used to buy junk food but I put it in the cabinets where they couldnt find it and when they want something they can ask me and I will give them the right amount so they don't take as much as they should. That stopped working after a while so I stopped buying a lot of junk but every now and then I bring them out to icecream

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316 12

quit buying the junk food. i buy snacks, but my kids dont get any unless they eat there dinner. they have come to realize that if they dont eat dinner, they wont get a snack. i also hide the snacks and junk in my bedroom so they cant sneak it. they always have to ask before getting in the fridge or cabinets or going in my room. this really isnt an issue in my house, because my kids know the rules, and they love there bedtime snacks. after school every day, they do get a snack to hold them over til dinner.

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731 11

Eliminate snacks altogether and just have good meals... My mother who is French tell me that when she grew up nobody ever ate between meals. She claim it's an Anglo country thing - and looking at the obesity statistics, she might be right.

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0 13

I just have trouble getting my 5 yr old and 3 old to sit down and have a decent meal at night. I cook a lovely meal and they just refuse to eat it and then all night after that they complain they are hungry. They won't even try veges or salad which does not help me. I have tried to tell them if they don't eat their dinner then they get nothing but they just scream and drive me and my husband round the bend. We end up giving them sandwhiches usually cheese or vegymite cheesybite. I am at a loss at what to give them. Mainly they will eat pasta that is plain but they can only have so much of that.
If anyone has any ideas please let me know as I am at my wits end as it is a fight every night just to get them to sit down and eat.

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182 16

It's a fight that they are winning. They will continue to scream and fuss until you give in which you do - kids are remarkably patient. Maybe you and your husband need to tag team so you can outlast them...one of you sticks around until you reach your tipping point, then you leave the room/house and the other one comes in until they reach that point, then you come back, etc. That will prevent either of you from reaching your limit and giving in. It probably will only take a short time during which they won't starve and then they will eat what is served. The bottom line is you can't give in and have to figure out how to enforce the rules which is there is one meal fixed and that is what is to be eaten, nothing else is negotiable. You give them what is on the menu and eventually they will eat it. You need to move beyond talking/telling them except that this is the new rule and it will be enforced with no exceptions. Face it, this situation took several years to create, it won't uncreate overnight, but it's the best thing for them and will be easier to undo now than later down the road. If the kids are hungry they get what was made for dinner, nothing else, it really needs to be as simple as that. I also think that the screaming needs to not be allowed and once it starts it's straight to a time out because that is unacceptable, rude, and disrespectful behavior. If your kids are anything like mine, the time out was hated and it took only once or twice of doing it for the behavior to change. Meals are for more than nutrition and an unpleasant meal which is a fight is no way to grow up or live as a family, however giving in to tantrums is no way to live either.

4 1

Get them used to some healthier snacks, trail mix, cracker packs, yogurt covered raisins, chocolate covered soy nuts, fruit and nuts. They can still have sweets and such but I'd say limit the amount and the times they can eat eat those types of foods during the day. Also maybe you could make sure there is something already made so if they want to grab junk food you can tell them to eat the real food in the fridge. When I was growing up there were certain foods that were off limits unless I asked in order to keep me from pigging out on sweets. This rule stayed set in place until I was old enough to make healthy food choices on my own and engage in self control.

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6 0

Do not keep it in the house...only have fruit, baked crackers, cheeses, things like that and when they are hungry...believe me, they will eat it instead of junk food...why? It's not available to them at home. Do not buy soda for home either! They will get used to this, and then, they won't even care if there isn't any garbage junk food at home...they will eat all the good stuff over time and learn to love it! Keep Sunday or one night a week as "dessert after dinner night" and that is when you can have a piece of cake, pie, ice cream etc after dinner but not on the other nights at home.

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7 0

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0 0

My sister and I have different views on what our children should eat. Her pantry contains honey buns, brownies, potato chips, and soda (all brands). My pantry contains oranges, apples, bananas and granola bars. Instead of soda I provide orange juice, water, and vanilla flavored soy milk (I call it milkshake). Sometime I buy Hugs juices. When my niece and nephews first came over it was a bit of a shock to not find any sugary snacks, but by the end of their stay they were okay eating what was provided. I allow my child to have some unhealthy snacks but I notice she pefer to have the granola bars over the potato chips. (AGES: 11-6)

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32 11

I run into this more with the older child that is in Middle School because junk food is so easily available at school. As they get older and more independent it is more difficult to monitor. Therefore, I try to keep the junk food we keep in our pantry to a minimum to reduce access. I don't buy juice or sugary drinks and make pitchers of tea, lemonade, and jamaica homemade and watch any added sugar. Since the hubby is diabetic it is a concern to limit sugar in our household. Instead of buying cookies and other junk food, I buy the ingredients to make dessert and always keep washed/cut up fruit and yogurt available. If the kids want chocolate chip cookies, they can make them. If they have to work for it, they seem to be less likely to make the effort. I make them a good hearty breakfast every morning and make dinners in advance so that they can eat a homecooked meal when they get home from school. I work 8 am - 6 p.m. so I am usually not home when they eat dinner. I explain to my preteen that if he wants to buy chips and eat the unhealthy meals they offer at school such as greasy pizza, he will at least have two healthy meals at home. We have a 7-eleven about a 1/2 mile from the house. If they are really craving a candy bar or chips, we can walk to the store every so often to satisfy the craving. Education, advance preparation of readily available healthy options, and reducing access at home has really helped. As parents we just have to be a broken record and keep reinforcing good habits over and over again and hope they stick.

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7 15

In our house we make sure that healthy snacks are easily accessible at all times. Munchies are in the cupboard but there is NO junk food during the week.

Our son given a choice of junk food or healthy, 99% of the time will choose healthy because we have taught him the importance of healthy choices for a healthy body, healthy mind, and a healthy life. He won't eat take out burgers or processed meat. We have let him see the programs on how processed food is made. We have given him the tools to make sound choices to lead a healthy happy life.

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15 1

Don't buy it. Model healthy eating habits. This really amazing thing happened when I stopped buying junk food. She started snacking on apples with peanut butter or string cheese. If we want "fast food", she begs for Subway. When they are hungry enough, they will eat the healthy options you bring into the kitchen. Once my daughter realized she FELT better with good food, she started choosing to eat it, even if I'm not there to minute her choices. It didn't happen overnight, or without many complaints of "nothing to eat"..... But it has happened. Have patience, and good luck :)

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11 6

I just buy a little every month when it is gone there is no more until the next month, they learn to make it last and they also learn what a proper portion is. I do however keep a lot of healthy choices in the house for them to snack on. carrots, celery, apples, cheeses. Most kids are looking for fast and junk food is fast so just make sue you have something they can grab and go. We also make our own tortilla chips baked with cooking spray and seasonings.

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20 39

I don't allow junk food in the house, but honestly with my 12 year old that isn't the issue. The issue is he just eats way too much food period. He is eating tons of cereal and other things that are healthy, but he just eats way too much! He has been going to a Doctor to weigh in every two weeks and has slowly been gaining more and more weight. The sad part is his Dad had a lot around his midsection in the way of fat, and that is difficult to get rid of! He has tried to exercise, but he never really sticks with it. I am truly worried about him. The last time he weighed in, at least he dropped a 1/4 of an ounce. So that is better then gaining weight. The Doctor says he could lose a lot of that weight when he hits his growth spurt coming up during Junior High and High School. I am praying to God and just seeing what happens!

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9 3

Don't buy it, don't serve it, don't opt out of cooking and go to Macdonalds. You are in control of what your tween eats. Make sure that what you are serving them is tuned to their likes/dislikes as regards flavour combinations - for instance, my son hates mushrooms and cooked tomatoes, so I steer clear of them, or he picks them out. It really is not difficult!

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7 17

just dont it avaiable-the simplest solution really is the simplest solution in this case-my 13 year old prowled through the kitchen the other night looking for junk food a few nights ago and when she couldn't find any, she had some caffine free mint tea with splenda and called it a night-no junk food no arguement

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30 1

Take out the revolving door in your kitchen! Seriously, its not up to your kids what they eat..its up to you! Stop letting your kids run the home and take a stand! 11 and 9 are way too young to have that kind of control in a home. In my home this is our kitchen schedule: Breakfast...morning snack that is heathy, like fruit or crackers...lunch...afternoon snack that is primarily for energy, like chips or nuts...dinner...evening snack, that is either dessert or a light snack like popcorn. I keep snacks in my home, but my kids know that they are not there just to be sucked down like a vaccuum. I have thrown some snacks away because they were in my home so long that they went bad. I would rather do that then fight with my kids to stop eating them. The difference in my home is this: I am the boss, not my kids! I determine what can be eaten and when, not my kids! Its that simple!

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