I am by no means a nutritionist, but five years into this motherhood thing my philosophy on raising kids to be healthy eaters has changed drastically. In my naive pre-children days, I thought I would be the mom whose kids are eating butternut squash and tofu from day one. I thought picky eaters were a result of parents who just didn’t make them eat healthy. Oh, how wonderful it must have been to be that high and mighty with no experience whatsoever. 😉 Now my kids are not the pickiest of eaters, but they’re certainly not the best, either. There are five main ways I try to keep their diet mostly healthy, and I’m partnering with FreshKids to share them with you today!
1. Try everything at least once.
I don’t care if my girls take the tiniest morsel of the tiniest slice of green beans. They’re going to at least try one bite of everything on their plate before they’re allowed to excuse themselves from the table. I’m not about to force them to eat, and I’m not the plate police to sit there and make sure it’s clean at every single meal. But by getting them to at least give new foods a shot, it’s been surprising how often Cora will admit that she actually likes it, and trying it next time isn’t as difficult.
2. Offer, offer, and then offer some more.
Similar to number one, I also don’t expect my kids to be hungry as soon as my meal preparation is finished. I offer snacks throughout the day, I offer three square meals a day, but I don’t get caught up with how much they actually eat. I figure, if they’re hungry, they aren’t going to let themselves starve. My job is just to make sure the options available are healthy choices. That also means I’m not a short order cook, so if they don’t like what’s being served up for lunch, they can just wait until the next opportunity to eat comes along.
3. Set the bar high.
Listen. I’m well aware my kids are not going to develop a palate for smoked salmon and pureed arugula tomorrow. But if they see me eating a wide variety of interesting and nutrition-packed foods, I have faith that they will eventually develop a more varied diet. I know my Dad’s sense of culinary adventure freaked me out when I was little, but now I enjoy many of the same foods I saw him eating back then. If your kids never even see duck confit or paella until they’re in college, why would you expect them to suddenly embrace it?
4. Dessert is not leverage.
I’m also well aware that childhood obesity is a real concern in today’s society, so I do my best to never associate sweet treats with a reward system. It’s not, “Eat your broccoli and you’ll get your cupcake,” because then the lesson I’m teaching my girls is that sugary snacks are the only foods worth desiring. I don’t want them to think dessert is the end goal. It is simply the occasional indulgence. I don’t deny my kids these things, but I don’t use them as a bribery tool, either. They’re just one more thing we include in our diet among a whole host of other delicious options.
5. Nutritional foods are not “good for you”, they’re delicious!
This was another tip I read somewhere and have started incorporating into my language when talking about food with the girls. The basic gist is that when we try to convince kids to eat their carrots because “they’re good for you” or “they’ll help you see better”, that does nothing to convince a kid to give them a try. They just don’t care what’s healthy or not. They might be more willing, however, if you tell them how DELICIOUS your carrots are, and how much they’re going to love them! Because honestly, healthy food is yummy, too! Why not argue that point instead of listing off vitamins and minerals?
I’m also incredibly thankful that in today’s grocery stores the options available to parents is growing by the minute. One particular brand, FreshKids, has recently impressed me with their non-GMO, whole grain, and all natural Pretzel Stix, among a whole host of other great products. They meet USDA School Lunch Program and Smart Snack serving size and ingredients standards, and you can find them in your local Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club! I love that they are also giving away Garden Seed Kits with every purchase of their Pretzel Stix at participating Sam’s Clubs, so your kids can watch their veggies grow right in their backyard! Talk about bringing healthy eating home!
To find out more about FreshKids, follow them on Facebook here.
P.S. I received compensation in exchange for this post. Don’t worry though, all opinions are my own!