Kids and their diets can be such a sensitive subject for parents and I totally understand why. As parents all we want what is best for our kids. We want them to have the best education, play on the best sports teams, have the best manners and be surrounded by the best people. We also want them to eat the best foods and that can be super challenging especially with all the information out there and the back and forth about what is and isn’t healthy for our kids. There is also that little element of convenince that we all NEED as busy parents.
I remember a conversation I had with a client a while back and we were talking about what we feed our kids. The client had come to me to get help with her own body, but as you may know, when you have a family they get pulled into everything you do. I remember telling her that I was more strict with my diet then I was with my kids. Then I remember her seeming taken aback and then telling me that she was totally more strict with her kids diet then her own. At first that struck something in me, an insecurity perhaps, like maybe she was insinuating that I should absolutely be feeding my kids healthier foods then I would eat.
Looking back at her diet I realized that it was all relative. I think I’m pretty healthy. I’m sure most people think I only eat twigs and berries and probably a little bark. They also probably think that I am missing out on some of life wonders, but that is another conversation. What that means though, is that my kids generally eat healthy too and when they eat treats, the treats are also healthy and things I just prefer to rarely indulge in. When I compared that to a parent that drinks diet cokes on a regular basis and eat potato chips for a snack, well then heck yeah, I would totally hope that parents feeds their kids better then they feed themselves.
Is that judging? Maybe, but i feel that providing your children with the nutrients they need to grow into strong, healthy and intelligent adults is part of our social responsibility. Everyone comes from a different back ground and a different body of knowledge. I think most people just don’t know the difference and often times think, “well I ate that growing up and I’m fine.” What I am compelled to do is inform them of the benefits of what healthier choices could be and how they may benefit their family. I know the struggle of figuring it out and just want to prevent someone from going through the same thing.
What I also realized after that conversation is that, like good parents should, they really take the time to put love and thought into what their kids eat and will sacrifice their own diet to grab what is most convenient for them in that moment….diet coke and crackers (healthy ones of course) even if it means blowing their own diet. So when someone tries to tell them that what they give them could be healthier they get overwhelmed and defensive.
So here are my tips for getting your kids to eat healthy and no you are NOT depriving them of anything. If anything you are setting them up to love fruits and veggies and have long amazing lives and there is nothing greater that we can give to them.
The thought of meal prepping makes peoples heads spin. It really works for some people but other people just live a life that has too many variables. I don’t meal prep like decide exactly what I am going to have each night of the week and then cook it in advance. What I do is meal prep what meals I would like to have over the course of the week and then I can chose which meals to have each night based on our schedule. This keeps our budget under control and prevents us from eating out because I have already spent the money on the groceries and I hate throwing food away. The secret to getting your kids to eat what your having is allowing the kids to join in on the prep process. When they chose what meals you are going to eat they will be less likely to fight you on them when it comes time for dinner.
Make Food Exciting!
So two things come to mind here for me. Let the kids help you food shop and let the kids help you prepare meals. The thought of both of them make me want to roll my eyes, especially when I’m short on time and patients…. but they work! This is not something you have to do all the time and it does not have to take up your entire shopping trip or dinner making session.
I give each one of my kids one task when we go to market, let them know how grateful I am for all their help, and tell them that they will totally be the first person I ask next time I need something. My kids are so much better behaved in the store because I get this sense of responsibility and maturity. The same thing can go for making dinner. I give them something they can do real quick with me. Pour the rice in the pot or shake the bag of sweet potato fries to get them seasoned. They are getting involved, feel like they have contributed and it really makes them proud to know that have helped around the house. If your kids are older by all means give them something substantial to do, there is no reason they can’t peel carrots or cut the ends of the string beans. I was so grateful to know how to cook when I went away to college!
Get Them Involved
It can be hard, especially at the end of a long hard day. So don’t do it then, it will only end in tears. Probably more from you then them. If you have time to prep some things earlier in the day or on the weekend that is the time to do it. You want to make it a positive experience for both of you so that you will continue to do it. The more involved the kids are in the process of making the food the more likely they are to want to eat it.
Give Them Options
When we go out to eat I will let my kids chose from a few things I pick out from the menu. Now they are getting some of the healthier things on the menu but I am also giving my kids the power to make their own food decisions which gets them excited. When we go to the market I allow them to pick out a few new fruits and veggies to try. I use food shopping as a learning experience. It is one of my favorite things to do with my kids. Honestly they don’t stay interested very long so it’s totally worth the few minutes of effort for me to talk to them and explain what some healthy fun options would be. I also try not to say no to things, instead I explain what it does to their bodies so they can know why it may not be good option for them. I always keep a variety of fruits and veggies in the home and the kids are allowed to eat as much of any of them as they want, with in reason of course. It works because they don’t feel deprived and I don’t have to worry about what they are choseing.
Be A Good Example
This one goes back to that conversation I had with my client. No matter how healthy you feed your kids, in the end they are going to want to eat what they see you eating. If they see you eating chips and drinking soda that is what they are going to want to do. You are their biggest role model, so show them what they should be doing and it will actually benefit you too. My secret is to make my food before I make the kids. I know this sounds selfish but it guarantees that I am making something healthy for me and it ensures that we eat our meals together, as in together I am present at the meal with them. Something to also consider is if you know you wouldn’t eat it if you were on a diet then your kids probably shouldn’t be eating it either. If it’s not healthy for you, it’s even less healthy for them.
Check out my video post on Facebook for my living it now challenge with my kids and their diet (FaceBook.com/gbhwellness). I am really curious to know what your biggest struggles are with your kids when it comes to diet.