Healthy eating isn’t easy for adults so why would it be easy for kids? Our kids’ eating habits will be a reflection of what we model. True confession: I used to think a piece of bologna, canned peas, and some diced fruit counted as a complete meal. I fed this combination of foods, or a variation thereof, to my boys. Of course hot dogs and lunch meat are nothing unusual, but I honestly thought I was covering all of the major food groups here. Oh, except grains and dairy. Guess that would’ve been the gold crackers shaped like fish and a cup of milk!
As I grew in my knowledge of nutrition, our mealtimes changed and improved. I know so much more now than I used to know but I still don’t get it right all the time. So what’s a mom to do? How ‘bout doing the best you can? Maybe you can experiment with cooking your protein in a new way. Lean chicken, turkey, pork, lower fat cuts of beef, shrimp, fish, tofu, and eggs are all great protein choices. Make shish kabobs together. Try marinades and dry rubs. Or maybe you need to increase your fruit and vegetable intake. Eat the rainbow in fruits and veggies. Yes, there’s Pinterest. And you probably can literally create a fruit or veggie rainbow for your kids. And if that’s something you enjoy, go for it! But even if that’s not you, keep putting different fruits and veggies in front of your kids. Living in the days of Google, you can get the information you need on feeding your family, your way. Start there. Then, wherever you are in your healthy eating journey, take the next step. And invite your kids to take it with you – the younger, the better. Make it a family affair!
Here are a few thoughts for you to ponder as you consider introducing new foods in your H-O-M-E!
Heart – Are your children characterized by first time obedience? If they obey you by coming when you call and by picking up their toys when playtime ends, then more often than not, they will eat what you provide when you introduce new foods. Sometimes gaining compliance at mealtimes means focusing a little more on obedience during the day.
Others – Have you considered that mealtimes have everything to do with the preciousness of others? When your child eats what has been prepared for him (regardless of whether it’s a pre-packaged snack with a sippy cup of water or a home-cooked meal complete with apple pie), someone worked to pay for that food. Someone shopped for it and brought it home. Someone prepared it. By eating what is set before him, your child honors others.
Mom and Dad – Are you setting a good example for your kids? Do you try a wide variety of foods? Do you show consideration when served a food that you don’t particularly care for? Our attitudes go a long way in leading our children toward healthy eating.
Experiment – we all have foods we prefer and those we’d rather not touch. Palates grow and change. It’s good to occasionally offer small bites of foods that have previously been rejected. Often we have to try foods more than once to realize we enjoy them. And sometimes we can just show grace to our kids. If there’s truly a food they don’t enjoy, maybe they don’t have to eat it, especially if they’re characterized by eating most other foods. But when you experiment as a family, it becomes an adventure – not something to dread.
And remember, good manners are always in good taste for every age!