Q. My kids are always asking me for things they see on TV or that they see their friends eating. How can I deal with this?
A. It’s important to keep a positive spin on food issues, says Mary Ellen Renna, M.D., author of Growing Up Healthy the Next Generation Way: Add Years to Your Child’s Life & Life to Your Child’s Years (SelectBooks, 2007). “You should avoid statements like ‘You can't have that.’ A better approach is to teach your children why we need to eat healthy.” Explain to them why we need vitamins and minerals to stay healthy and how poor eating won’t give them the nutrition they need to do well in school or play sports, she says. When children complain that other kids get to eat junk food, remind them of how proud you are of their healthy eating, says Renna. “Suggest to your child that he/she could help their friend learn to eat better by trying some of the healthy food they eat! This empowers your child and makes them feel good about what they are doing.”