Healthy Eating and Kids
Do you remember the moment that the nurse placed that sweet baby bundle of awesomeness in your arms? You promised that preciousness that you would take the best care of all his or her newborn yumminess? Do you also remember the first time that you fed your child chicken nuggets? I am a lover of Chick-Fil-A and all the chicken nugget goodness, but I do remember thinking I would never defile my children with unhealthy food options. But my children went through the chicken nugget and mac and cheese phase like so many others. I am so proud to say that now my littles have become big but they are in the gym each day and they are eating healthy food. Here are a couple of ideas that might help you engage your lovelies in eating balanced, nutritious, healthy goodness.
1. Allow them to see the full life cycle of food. If you can, grow a small vegetable garden. If space (and time) are minimal, try an indoor herb garden. Using herbs in place of salt allows children a full flavor experience. Take them to a Farmer’s Market. My children were always amazed that the dirty bundle of carrots became the delicious Copper Pennies that Nana made.
2. Try out a meal delivery service. My 10 year old daughter had a friend over one night. Her friend was incredibly picky and her parents had warned that she would not eat much. Through the meal service that I used I was armed with recipe cards and ingredients. The girls got their cards, got to “grocery shop” for their necessary items and then chopped, diced and cooked their way to a complete meal. They had a fabulous time. We made our own pickles, curried chicken with coconut rice, shucked corn and made a goulash and grilled plantains. Best part of the night? Both girls ate some of everything. We had enough food to feed an army because they wanted to make several dishes.
3. Allow your sweet ones to be involved in the cooking process. Children love to be hands on. Cooking gives them the opportunity to follow directions, create a masterpiece and also instills a sense of confidence and achievement.
4. Use creative names for dishes. When my oldest son was 2 we ended up in a classic food battle. He did not want to eat the carrots. We were locked in a little stand off and I was at a loss as to how to break it. In a moment of divine inspiration, I told him that they were not carrots – they were dinosaur poo (He’s a boy – sometimes you just have to go with it). He looked at me, laughed and picked up the carrot and ate it. Realized it tasted good and ate some more.
5. Use the two bite rule – The one rule I had was they had to take two bites. If they did not love it, they did not have to eat more. But I wanted them to learn to try new dishes and foods that stretched them. I also wanted them to learn to be grateful for the gift of fresh and healthy food.
Raising children is challenging. It is the greatest gift and the closest you can come to complete insanity, all within the same 5 minutes. With a little creativity, a huge dose of fun and a willingness to not give up – you can raise children that not only eat the minimum two bites, but will fall in love with healthy eating.