My Messy Mom Life: 1.8.20
A lot of people think my kids eat healthy all of the time. They don’t. I don’t even want to admit how many times I find myself in the Chick-fil-A drive-through. I’ve been working on getting nutrient-dense food into my kids since my oldest (now 7) was able to start solids; it’s definitely a process. I’ve done a lot of things wrong and maybe a few right. But after doing some research and speaking with nutritionists, I have a few tips!
▶ Try, try again. It’s not groundbreaking advice, but it’s true. Every day I hear parents say, “My kid won’t eat that.” Yeah, maybe not the first time or even the fifth, but never say never. Research shows that you have to try something at least seven times to acquire a taste for it. A lot of kids just have to see a certain food 10 times before they will even try it once. Introducing one type of vegetable on the plate consistently over time will familiarize them. Eventually, they may sneak a bite, and the rest is history.
▶ Set an example. There is a lot of research on the importance of sitting down to eat as a family. It contributes to kids’ overall health and forms a healthy mindset about food. The little ones are always watching us, so simply eating healthy options in front of your kids can help them take the plunge to try new things. My son eats salad because mommy eats salad. And now his big sister eats salad because she wanted to know what the fuss was all about!
▶ Control snacking. Skip all snacks a couple of hours before dinner. When your kids are starving and waiting to eat, put out the veggie tray as you are serving dinner. Hungry kids do crazy things. Like eat raw broccoli.
▶ Don’t use food as a reward. I’m currently raising both hands high to tell you the ways I’ve failed at this. I’ve used food as a reward for myself and for my kids. But then it dawned on me: If junk food is a reward, then what does that make healthy food? A punishment! And to be honest, using food as a reward or a punishment is not good for anyone.
▶ Stop talking about it. I used to drill my oldest about making healthy choices; she pushed back a lot and still does. With my second child, I occasionally just told him that certain foods will make him feel strong (like the Hulk). He rarely fights me on veggies.
▶ Get your kids in the kitchen. Kids are twice as likely to try foods they have a hand in making. Let them help in the kitchen; it may be an easy solution to a super picky eater.
▶ Substitutions & Additions
Most kids have about three things they actually would choose to eat, and there are many ingredient swaps to make these favorite foods healthier.
• Try macaroni made out of chickpeas from@eatbanza. It has 9g of protein per serving.
• Add finely chopped veggies to soups, pasta sauce and meatballs.
• Spinach, kale or cauliflower can be added to most smoothies without anyone knowing.
• Bake with more nutrient-dense flours like almond or coconut to add healthy fats and protein to their favorite treats.
• Seapoint Farms makes spaghetti and fettuccine noodles from edamame or red lentils that are pure plant protein.
For a list of my favorite ingredient swaps and nutrient-dense recipes, check out my site, thebejuledlife.com.
The point is, I am always trying. Feeding your family healthy meals and getting kids to try new things is not a mission of perfection. It’s a conscious and consistent effort that shows progress over time. If you want to join my Facebook group on dinner ideas, send me an Instagram message!
Katelyn Young is a local mom of three (her #crumblycrew) who shares real moments of motherhood as it related to fashion, food and fun! Follow her on Instagram at @_katelynyoung_ or follow her blog at thebejuledlife.com.