How would you like to struggle less during mealtime? To have your kids eat healthy without much forcing, pleading or bribing?
Today, we’re chatting with Rosann of Christian SuperMom.
She shares both her struggles and tips on leading her children to the road of healthy eating. Enjoy!
1. What are the benefits of having children eat a wide variety of food?
I think the benefits are primarily nutritional. Children (and adults) who eat a well balanced diet of fruits, whole grains, vegetables, protein and dairy are generally healthier all around.
When I was growing up, my mom (divorced) didn’t have a lot of money to provide for us, so she planted a garden every year and spent her weekends canning, baking, and freezing food.
When a meal was served, it was always homemade, well balanced, and healthy. The rule in our home was: eat what’s in front of you or go hungry.
Now as an adult, I love all vegetables and most fruits. I prefer whole wheat bread over the white stuff and still appreciate a tall glass of ice cold milk.
2. Do you have picky eaters? What are some of the challenges you face?
Both of my daughters started out eager to try different flavors and textures.
Now, my 3-year old will ask for a salad or a sandwich with veggies before asking for classic preschooler favorites: chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.
My 6-year old used to be that way, but seems to have sensitive taste buds now and has become very picky. It’s like pulling teeth to get her to eat any fruit or vegetables, and drinking 1/2 cup of milk with dinner has become a bit of a struggle.
Part of our challenge with her is she knows how picky her daddy is and that I often prepare separate (plain) meals for him.
This hasn’t been an easy choice for me, but I respect and love him for who he is, which is why I accommodate his taste buds, while trying to also offer healthy options.
As a man working in the corporate world, with many business dinner meetings in a wide variety of food establishments, he has often commented on how embarrassing it is to still be such a picky eater.
However, at nearly 50 years old, there’s not a strong desire to change. This is unfortunate as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity are now major health concerns in his family.
3. How do you ensure your kids eat different types of food?
Because I care about their health, it’s important to me that my daughters grow up with a willingness to try new foods.
Taste buds change over the years and sometimes just having a particular food prepared slightly different can make all the difference in the world to our palate.
Even if they’ve indicated not liking a food in the past, I still encourage them to try it. Today just might be the day they change their mind.
I also make sure to provide at least one food on their plate I know they like, so meals aren’t a complete fight.
The last thing I want to do is spend an hour frustrated with them because they aren’t eating anything at all. Plus preparing something I know they like shows them I care about their personal preferences too.
When things seem to be lacking in the healthy food consumption, I always know I can turn to the blender for delicious smoothies.
Loaded with a wide variety of fruits, yogurt, flaxseed, and often times a dash of veggie puree (buy some jars of baby food carrots, squash, or sweet potato to mix in), even my 6-year old lines up eager to slurp down a smoothie.
4. If you were to give 1 tip to a new mom frustrated about her fussy eater, what would it be and why?
I would say set mealtime rules and be willing to enforce them. I often remind my daughters that we eat the healthy foods before we get special treats.
At their age dessert is a big motivating factor in whether or not they eat food placed in front of them.
It only takes once or twice of missing out on a treat due to their own fussiness for them to realize the rules are the rules and need to be followed.
Plus, I’ve learned over the years that kids will eat when they’re hungry. They won’t starve from picking at a meal here and there.
The last thing I want is for mealtime to be stressful. Children thrive in a world of structure and rules. Once everyone knows the rules, there’s no need for a battle. They either follow them or they go without.
So there you have it!
- Give them healthy options early on so they get used to eating fruits and veggies
- If their taste preferences change, prepare smoothies and sneak in some veggies while you’re at it
- Set mealtime rules and enforce while giving a healthy treat or reward after finishing a healthy meal
Another thing to add is:
- Eating out when budget permitting. It’s a fun way to explore different cuisines and get taste buds accustomed to various types of food.