When it comes to healthy food, we often hear, "my kids won't eat that" or "my kids are picky eaters" or "I can never get them to eat XYZ."
While I don't have kids, I decided I could not share with you my non-qualified opinion in this matter! I got some help. Read along to hear what a couple of pretty fantastic moms I know had to say on the matter...and maybe some of my added commentary :)
Lynnette and Sarah both have multiple children. Lynnette has Landon 12, Vannah 10, Vivian 6 and Griffin 2. Sarah has Mia 9 and Liam and Lincoln 5.
How do you introduce healthy food options to your kids?
L: I honestly don't keep much junk food in the house. If it's there, I will also resort to eating it too
S: With all of them, we started at an early age. We never really did fruit snacks, roll ups, never had juice or other sugary drinks in the house. We still don't.
What are some of the kids' "go-to" healthy food choices?
S: Mia likes shakes made with Greek blueberry yogurt, mike and blueberries. Liam loves natural peanut butter and also a baked potato with ground chicken, salsa and Greek yogurt. Linc is the veggie guy. He loves salads with all the fixin's.
L: They love chicken (made pretty much any way), green beans, broccoli, tacos, applesauce, yogurt, meatloaf (with a mix of ground beef and turkey) and fruit
What are typical meals with your kids?
L: Breakfast is often eggs or oatmeal, sometimes waffles and cereal, yogurt and fruit. For lunches they like turkey and cheese roll ups, PBJ with applesauce or yogurt
S: Breakfast is normally a "protien shake" as they call it but all the ingredients like Mia's shake above mixed in the Ninja and on the go. Lunch is typically whatever they have at school,which isn't always great but they know what protein is and that protein and veggies have to be eaten first. If they pack, it's usually meat/cheese sandwich with unsweetened applesauce or a no sugar fruit cup. For dinner, we always have protein cooked up and ready to go, so it's usually roast or ground chicken, mixed veggies, maybe some meat ravioli. The evening schedule can be crazy, so it's nice to have some food prepped to mix and match.
What is the biggest challenge with your kids and healthy food?
S: For me, it's not being able constantly pick the cheap and easy thing. I'm not saying my kids never eat mac 'n cheese or nuggets every so often, but for the most part we try not to. I don't want them to be in the same position I found myself in as an adult. For them, I think it's seeing what other kids have or eat and realizing that over-indulging isn't what makes their own bodies feel good. It may sound like a lot to put on a child, but they feel better for it and I love the fact that they're armed with that knowledge even though their choices may not always reflect it.
L: They aren't always eager to try new things when I just tell them what we're having. It usually takes some coaxing. If they see me eating it though they tend to ask to try it. They also aren't allowed to be rude or say they dislike something before even trying.
What last tips can you leave for other families out there?
L: I try to sneak veggies in where I can. They love chicken pot pie so I load it up. I use lean meats as well. I also keep in mind if I completely "forbid" things they may binge on them later, so all things in moderation. I also try to be a healthier example and talk about how I feel when I'm eating right, and I feel yucky when I've over-indulged too. They learn from us even when they aren't always following our examples on the daily.
S: Start them now! It's all about the knowledge. Knowing what's good for their bodies and letting them feel that from the inside out for themselves is key. So many of us knew cinnamon and sugar toast, peanut butter and mayo sandwiches, fruit roll ups, twinkies, kool aid, fried bologna...did we die? No! Did that mean our parents didn't love us? No! BUT I want it to be different for mine. There will be so much they have to deal with growing up and I don't want their food choices or their weight to be an ongoing issue for them if I can help.
Here's the kicker ya'll....kids will be kids. They're going to fight you about something! They're not going to like everything. That's OK! You're not a bad parent if your kid had ice cream for dinner last night. Let's just not make it a regular thing!
Start them early. Make them at least try something. Eliminate junk in the house. Talk about food choices. Teach about protein, carbs, fats, and veggies. Hopefully these tips are helpful and if we stay consistent ourselves, the kiddos will follow! Maybe not today, but they will!