People who say if you set a good example your kids will follow suit are liars. ~Sharon DeVellis~
Speed Skating Son was a dream baby—he slept through the night at an early age, hardly ever cried and despite being allergic to dairy, wheat, nuts, shellfish and eggs, was easy to feed. Through the years, this has held true—he’s always willing to try a new food at least once.
Hockey Skating Son is my 150% child. He needs little to no sleep, is always on the go, and feeding him can run the gamut from easy one day to a hellish nightmare the next. If I had a nickel for every time he said, “I don’t like this” before even trying it, my butler would be typing this article.
Both have been raised in the same environment and provided with the same food, yet I have one child who will eat just about anything and one who refuses just about everything.
While attempting to get Hockey Skating Son to try new foods will always be somewhat of a hill-climb, I have managed to learn a few tricks to ensure he’s getting the most out of the food he does eat.
You Are In Charge Of The Food You Give Them
I’ve heard from other moms how they pack foods that are less than nutritionally stellar because it’s the only thing their kids will eat. In the words of Dr. Phil….“The tail’s waggin’ the dog” on that one. Of course kids will refuse healthy food if they know you’re going to give them chips, juice and fruit roll-ups. Kudos to them for being so smart.
My boys go to a school that has two nutrition breaks as opposed to one lunch hour. This means I need to pack two mini-meals for each of them. And yes, it is a pain. But it’s also a great way to ensure they’re getting healthy food because it’s not like they have any other options except to not eat it, right? And trust me, after a few days of not eating their lunches, they’re either (a) so hungry by dinner, they’ll eat just about anything or (b) they’ll realize how crappy they feel at the end of the school day and start eating.
You are in charge of the food, they are in charge of deciding whether or not to eat it.
Feed Them Real Food
Fruit by the foot, rolls, roll-ups, chews, gushers, and whatever other names they have for them, are not fruit.
We are an 80/20 house—80% of the food in our house is real food, 20% is processed. I buy some for the times when I’m desperate or running behind schedule and need to throw the kids a snack but for the most part, my kids eat real food. And of course, there is Crazy Night. Yes, my kids sometimes complain. It’s all “Mom, I’m the only kid in my class who has to eat cut up fruit in my lunch every day.”
Which is when I roll my eyes and tell them if that’s the biggest problem they have, then they must have a pretty good life, now go outside and play.
Here are a few guidelines I follow:
If you have to remove it from some sort of cello wrapper it’s not a fruit.
If you can’t pronounce the ingredients listed, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.
If it’s covered in chocolate, I don’t care how healthy the marketing on the box makes it look, it’s not.
Make It Easy
Kids have the focus of gnats on amphetamines so our fridge is loaded with bowls of cut up fruit—pineapple, mangoes, strawberries, watermelon—and easy to grab fruit that’s been washed—cherries, grapes, apples, plums, peaches. The bowls are placed near the front at eye level so when my kids open the fridge to grab a snack, it’s the first thing they see. Guess what they usually grab?
Know Your Kids
While Speed Skating Son will eat vegetable prepared in any way, Hockey Skating Son only likes a few certain cooked vegetables. BUT he will eat a whole bunch of different veggies if they’re raw so that’s what he gets with his meals. Simple, no?
Last But Not Least
Contrary to my quote at the beginning, you do need to set a good example for your kids. If they see you eating crap food, they’re going to grow up thinking that’s okay. Involve them in the preparation of family meals, teach them where real food comes from, and show them how real food is made. Most importantly, communicate. Talk to your kids about the foods they eat and how to make choices that will fuel their bodies to help them move and grow.
Just don’t let them find your hidden chocolate stash or you’re screwed.