How do you get your kids to eat like that?

Disclaimer : I know I will get my time with a picky eater and I do NOT want to come off as a know-it-all mom because honestly, those mommies drive me nuts.

How DO you get your kids to eat like THAT?

This is the question I get emailed, twittered, asked more than anything else so I am going to try and give you tips to get your kids to eat like THAT!

Raising Healthy Eaters

Raising healthy eaters is an unbelievably important step in child rearing. Since we are raising not children but future ADULTS we want them to have a healthy relationship with food, know how to take care of themselves and to be a healthy individual. Giving our children a head start in every way, even teaching them how to eat, will benefit them tremendously throughout their lives.

1. Start DAY ONE—Well, maybe not day one but as soon as they start solids. Using fresh, organic baby food will help develop your infant’s palette to be completely used to what “healthy” food should taste like without weird preservatives–food with FLAVOR and food with actual texture. Ask your pediatrician to be sure, but I started adding herbs and spices sooner than later to get my babies ready for the next step…when you eat the food that Mom and Dad eat!

2. Use REAL FOOD (when the teeth come in)–Why do we stop feeding our children vegetables when we stop feeding them baby food? They get stuck with a few measly carrot sticks and a side of ranch as their vegetable serving. What about that wonderful butternut squash they seemed to love so much or those dark greens? They still love the pureed baby-food flavor, so throw it in! Grilled cheese sammies? Put in a heavy layer of pureed butternut squash. When they start to love Italian food? Throw some pureed dark greens into the red sauce! Do a layer of butternut squash underneath the cheese. Do this ALONG with giving them fruits and vegetables in their true form.

3. Eat WHOLE GRAINS–Do not even let your kids know what is available other than WHOLE GRAINS (whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, brown rice). What kid is going to whine for “white bread without crust” when they only eat healthy, whole-grain items? White bread is a treat in our home for cinnamon toast. You as parents aren’t into whole grains? Too bad, get over it! YOU are who your children will look to as an example of healthy eaters. This wasn’t hard for me but my husband whined for a bit; he eventually got over it!

4. Try NEW FOODS–“We tried carrots…apples…celery, but the kids HATED IT!” “We tried doing the spaghetti with whole grain noodles and they threw a FIT!” “If I make anything but mac & cheese, pizza or chicken nuggets it is a pain for the whole family.” It IS going to be hard, it IS going to be a stress but you just have to do it. Think about the hardships your children might face when they don’t eat healthy or have a good relationship with food. Be strong, you can do it!

This is my rule with new foods: Dinner time is fun time; it is a time to talk, giggle, listen to music maybe even read a book. This helps the atmosphere and everyone’s mood. They have to take two bites but not finish the whole new item. I try the new item for 3-4 days with the same rules. If they don’t like it we do NOT dwell on it. I ignore any whining and don’t say things like, “Oh! We found a food you hate! Abby hates tomatoes!” If they don’t like it I reintroduce it in 3-4 weeks. If they do I put it into our normal food routine.

5. Involve THE KIDS–You can involve children as young as 18 months; help them learn where food comes from, how to prepare the food and choose what they want to create. This works with adults too! Work with them in picking out recipes and doing the weekly meal plan. Take them to the Farmers Market, local vendors or the grocery store to involve them in buying the ingredients. Work with them in preparing the meals. Dinner time is too crazy for you? Let them help you make breakfast or lunch or even snack! The whole WEEK to crazy? Have them help prep food for you to use throughout the week. Schedule it into your schedule and it will work!

Let me know if you have any other questions! We will be having an expert come by next week and do a guest post on this same topic!

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