posted on 1/28/2019 in Blog
I have been taking care of families for almost a decade, but there are some things that you have to actually experience firsthand to truly understand.
How to get your kid to eat. Even more – how to get them to eat healthy food.
I have heard this from so many parents over the years, and now I get it. And if you have kids, you get it too. Many of us wonder how the heck a two year old can survive off of three bites of a chicken nugget every few days.
If you’re feeding your family fast food, I want to just say: I don’t judge you. I know there are a thousand reasons. I get it, completely. But I also know (and you do too) that it isn’t what they need to grow into healthy adults.
Some of the food issues we encounter are a power struggle. Kids want to be in control, and we parents definitely want to be in control. We need to find a happy medium by giving them food that tastes good but is also delivering good nutrition.
My struggle is the type and quality of food we feed our kids, not just that they are eating enough to fill their bellies. Recently, we started involving my two year old in prepping and cooking our food. To my amazement, she loves it and tends to eat more what she is able to help. You may have heard that our very own Shaunna Maxwell is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and is offering parent-child cooking classes! This is an excellent start to better eating habits for kids. Ask us in the clinic if you want more info.
A few pointers from a mom (not a doctor):
We put spinach in everything. If you know me personally, you know that I was a super picky eater in my younger years and didn’t eat anything green until I was in my 20s. Because of this, I try to make up for lost time by putting as much green into my diet as I can! We do the same for our kids.
You can puree spinach into a green smoothie for a quick and tasty breakfast (we do a fruit-less smoothie to keep sugar intake low) or add it to your eggs in the morning. Even our homemade pizzas have plenty of spinach as a base. My daughter loves being the one to add it!
I try to make sure there is protein at every meal, even snacks. I have a husband who is a great cook, and he makes almost all of our meals. The quality of our meat is important to us, so we buy local, grass-fed, no hormones/antibiotics whenever possible. The Iowa Food Coop is a great place to purchase high quality meat from local farmers if you need some help locating yours.
Protein in snacks is a little more difficult. We have started making “treats” like energy balls with almond butter and carrots and cookies with almond butter and coconut oil – healthy fat is also important for growing brains and bodies. We also make chocolate hummus for a sweet treat. All of these recipes are low sugar, and you can use local honey or grade B maple syrup for a sweet but healthy boost. Check out the links below for these healthy recipes! My toddler helps me make these and we talk about the ingredients and why we eat healthy food, all in hopes that when she is a teenager who can choose her own meals, she makes good choices.
Make your food taste good. I know this sounds ridiculous, but hear me out. Do you like your broccoli steamed with a sprinkle of salt? Your chicken poached? Cool. Not me though. I like my broccoli roasted in the oven with olive oil and sriracha and my chicken on a grill with Cajun seasoning. Put some thought into your cooking and season your kids’ food to not only peak their interest, but to develop their taste buds as well. They will likely be more open to trying new foods, especially foods that look “weird”, if you make it interesting.
We aren’t food-forcers, but we do encourage our kids to try foods that they “don’t like”. Believe it or not, if you keep putting it in front of them, some may eventually make it into their mouth. If your child is still very young (I’m talking about babies here), look into baby-led weaning to give them the most advantage when it comes to eating. Skipping purees has been shown to make better eaters.
My hope is that reading this sparked some ideas for you on how you can incorporate more healthy foods into your kid’s diet. If you have any questions or need guidance, let us know!