Feed Your Kids Real Food

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?

This also works on my husband.

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.

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About Sharon

Sharon DeVellis is a mother, wife and writer who can uncork a wine bottle in less than 10 seconds but buys twist-offs for emergencies. She’s currently in therapy to stop talking about herself in third person.
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10 Responses to Feed Your Kids Real Food

  1. Pingback: How Supperworks Can Save Your Butt | Speed Skating Mom

  2. Andrea says:

    Great post. My kids (8&5) are just starting to get to the point where they are asking why they don’t get yogurt drinks, bear paws, Go-Gos (? I think that’s what they are called) like “all the other kids”. We’re not perfect, but they get fresh fruit and veggies every day, and we don’t do any pre-packaged stuff in lunches. Sadly, they are still “particular”. They only eat raw veggies, which is easy, but only a few types, which is boring. Sure, I can pack different things — they leave it and it goes to waste. I keep in mind I was a lot pickier as a child, and I eat a wide variety of things now so all is not lost. Thing is, my first child ate a lot of things as a toddler that he won’t touch now, and my second child changes his likes/dislikes on a daily basis it seems. So, I can’t quite buy into the “it’s the parents’ fault” line. We have modeled, we have provided variety, they’ve never even tried KD. It’s still a bit of a struggle.

  3. Sarah Deveau says:

    Eat it or starve works if you have compliant kids – not so much on willful ones! When my 4yo refused anything but plain pasta we tried eat it or starve to get her to eat foods she had previously enjoyed – fruits, bread, yogurt, etc. and guess what? She starved! Nearly a week later she had lost 3 pounds on an already scrawny frame and she was cranky, lethargic, and still refused to eat! We went back to plan pasta and eventually she started asking for different things on her own. She’s now 7 and always chooses fruit and veggies over junk, like her parents do.

    I’m still afraid for that will to show up in her teen years.

  4. Laura B. says:

    I should add my biggest food rule:
    If I wouldn’t feed it to my toddler, I probably shouldn’t be eating it either…

  5. Laura B. says:

    My chocolate stash is under attack – the toddler is big enough to open the fridge door now. This will only end in tears.

    On the other hand, we go through fruit at an ALARMING rate. That child will eat two pears, a whole orange and three bowls of grapes in a single sitting.

  6. Alex says:

    As a kid who ate by the same rules (80/20), I grew up into an adult who ate pure crap whenever I could. It’s not always easy to shape how they’ll be as adults. That said, we follow the same rules…for the most part. Everything in moderation, and I hope they choose well when the choices are up to them.

    And stash? Chocolate STASH? Nothing lasts long enough for me to build a stash. If it’s in the house, I eat it. Which is another reason why junk isn’t usually bought at all. If I stocked the house with crap, by typing stick would be typing this comment.

  7. Kat says:

    We have a philosophy here around meal times – eat it or starve. It works. The kids go through phases of eating well or not and that’s when I’m the mean mom that never buys any fun food. Clearly they also suffer short term memory loss and forget the popsicles they inhaled on the weekend. I’ve never done the cut up fruit and veggies, but it’s a good idea and once I’ve organized my fridge I’ll get on that.

  8. Heather says:

    We trained my first child to be picky. With the second and third, we adopted the “eat it or starve” approach, and they are both far more adventurous eaters than the first one. They eat what is served or they wait until the next snack or meal. But I have had to let some things go.I buy healthier options for my kids, so the food they pack for lunch is good. But when they get to school, all bets are off. My son has developed a culinary currency and will trade his stuff for the processed. Fun times.

  9. Years ago when I took two of my children to Barbados to visit my brother, all of our meals were eaten at restaurants. Nine days of restaurant food, was not what my children wanted and they told me that they couldn’t wait until they got home, so they could have real food. We have always eaten everything fresh and home-made and I have been luckily, because my kids prefer home cooked food to eating out. Just recently my daughter commented she was quite happy to be home for the summer, because now she could have vegetables with all her meals!

    My husband started them young, we made our own baby food, and as they grew up we had no problems with eating habits. Sure, there is always that one veggie they didn’t like (i.e. my favourite – fiddleheads) but they knew to eat what was on their plate because it was either that or go to bed hungry.

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