Wednesday, November 2, 2011

10 Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Whole Grains

By Julia Moravcsik, PhD, author of Teach Your Child to Love Healthy Food

Studies show that eating whole grains instead of refined grains lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. While benefits are most pronounced for those consuming at least 3 servings daily, some studies show reduced risks from as little as one serving daily. The message: every whole grain in your diet helps!

Whole Grains Have Many Health Benefits

The benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:
  • stroke risk reduced 30-36%
  • type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
  • heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
  • better weight maintenance
Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:
  • reduced risk of asthma
  • healthier carotid arteries
  • reduction of inflammatory disease risk
  • lower risk of colorectal cancer
  • healthier blood pressure levels
  • less gum disease and tooth loss
(From the Whole Grains Council website)

How to Switch to Whole Grains

Switching to whole grains is one of the easiest steps parents can take to teach their children to love healthy food.  Follow these tips to easily switch your kids from processed white to healthy brown!

Just do it!  If you completely stop giving your child refined grains and start giving them whole grains, they may not even notice!  Researchers gave children either whole wheat or white flour pancakes at a school cafeteria.  There was no difference in the number of pancakes the children ate!  Expect the switch to be easy!  It very well might be.

It's ok if it takes time.  Some children may immediately like the taste of whole grains.  Others may take time.  It takes up to 15 times for a child to like a new food.  It may take much longer for the child to prefer a new kind of food to an old established one.  Just keep serving whole grains.  Eventually your child will think refined are grains boring and tasteless.

Pair whole grains with tasty food. Children like a new food better if it's paired with food your child already loves.  If your child loves hamburgers, serve hamburgers with whole wheat buns.  If your child is a PBJ sandwich lover, use whole wheat bread for the sandwich.  You can find pizza with whole wheat crust and whole wheat macaroni and cheese for the pasta lover in your family.

Bake with whole grains.   It's hard to say no to a fresh baked muffin. 

Find whole grain on-the-go food.  Parents sometimes resort to unhealthy food when they are taking snacks along to zoos and parks.  Whole grains are a better choice.  Bring Triscuits, 100% whole wheat Wheat Thins, popcorn, or corn nuts.

Convert the neighbors. Children like foods better if they see their friends eating them.  Gently bring up the topic of whole grains when you're talking to your kid's parents.  You may start a local trend!  If your child sees most of the kids in school eating whole wheat bread sandwiches, he will feel left out if he doesn't have one too.

Check the labels. Many foods labeled "whole grain" aren't made with 100% whole wheat.  Always check the ingredients label.  The first ingredient should be whole wheat and there should be no "flour", "wheat flour" or "refined flour". 

Eat it yourself.  Children look to their parents as food role models.  Make the switch to whole grains yourself, and your children will follow.  If you don't like whole grains, eat them anyway.  After a few months you'll find your tastes changing.

Think about the future of the world.   Cultural changes starts with a few individuals, and spreads to a tipping point where almost everyone has changed.  Fifty years ago a few brave parents sent their children to school with whole wheat sandwiches and now it's not considered unusual.  By joining the parents who are using whole grains you are changing the world in your own small way. 

Go to the Whole Grains Council WebsiteThis website has recipes, tips, and ways to help the world become whole grain eaters.  Join the movement!

Would you like a simple, easy-to-follow program that will teach your child to love healthy food? See my new book Teach Your Child to Love Healthy Food on

Related Articles

Teaching Kids to Like Whole Grains is Easy
25 Ways to Get Your Child to Eat Vegetables
How to Introduce a New Food So Your Kid Loves It

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