By Amy Linn
Having difficulty getting your kids to eat healthy? Cynthia Sass, a New York City-based registered dietitian, health expert, and author of the book Your Diet is Driving Me Crazy says that by giving kids the information they need they're going to want to eat right.
"What older children need is a basic understanding about this stuff -- about the chemicals and additives and fats and sugars and how it affects their bodies," she says. "Kids are great critical thinkers."
The pickiest fifth-grader and the most eye-rolling teen are equally devoted to taking control of their lives, in the food department and all others, she says. Engage their smarts and their natural sense of outrage -- about the disodium inosinate in those Doritos and the pesticide residue on that peach -- and they'll become allies in the food fight.
"The key is to avoid trying to trick them, or sway them, or force them to clean their plate or eat in a certain way," Sass says. Playing the food cop when they're downing the junky stuff "really pushes them toward those foods."
By sleuthing with your kids instead of for them -- reading labels and finding out together what foods have nasty additives and which fruit juices have no fruit in them and how that strange purple vegetable from the farmers' market actually tastes -- you engage them and bond with them, too.