Feeding kids and keeping them alive is a feat in itself. Feeding them HEALTHY?! Now that takes even more effort and intentional organization. BUT the payoff is pretty darn rewarding knowing that your kids are healthier for it. It doesn’t have to be that complicated and you can most certainly keep it simple. No cutting out sandwiches in cute little shapes here, just feeding kids REAL FOOD.
These are some things that have worked in our home and can certainly work in yours. Whether you have infants, toddlers, bigs or teens in your house. They could all benefit from eating a nutrient dense diet.
Tip #1 Start ’em early!
The golden ticket here is to start them early. Get your kids eating REAL FOOD from the very beginning. Their palates will have a taste for all of the healthy whole foods at an early age, if thats what is presented to them. Its a lot easier to get a two year old to try a wide range of fruits and vegetables (who’s use to it) than a teenager who has only ever known processed and bland foods. But don’t worry its not too late! Try some of the tips below and use them as a guide to help you help your kids eat healthier.
Tip #2 Theres no such thing as “kid food”
There really isn’t. FOOD IS FOOD. What makes kid food “kid food” anyway? What is adult food then? One day my kid is magically going to say “Mom I want a nutrient rich salad please!” when she’s old enough? Nope. That’s not usually how it works. Food is food is food is food. For you for me for her for them. Old and young. Food is food. Get it? Food is food.
That happy meal is no less nutritious for me than it is for my son. If its unhealthy for me, its unhealthy for him.
Tip #3 Stick to foods that are whole- stay away from barcodes
The majority of what we should be eating are foods that are whole. Foods that haven’t been heavily processed and don’t come a pretty little box with a barcode on it. Food that has come from the earth or has been fed from the earth and is a product of nature. If somebody had to make it in a factory, then it isn’t whole. Its best to make sure our diets are made up with mostly these kinds of foods. Adults and kids alike. Organic and nonGMO are always best.
Tip #4 Stop ordering off of the kids menu
The kids menu is generally packed with bland boring empty foods that people think are meant for specifically children. They usually have things like grilled cheese, chicken fingers, fries and pizza (oh so that’s kid food?). Try ordering from the “adult” menu, where there is a little bit more variety. This doesn’t mean each child needs an entire adult portioned plate (unless he needs that much food!). Try to think smart about how much each child is really going to eat. Have one kid? Perhaps make sure you’re getting enough to share with him. Multiple kids? What can they share? What else can we order so that everyone has enough? Example: My three kids can share a burrito bowl at Chipotle as long as I’m getting double scoops of the rice and beans and a side of guacamole with some corn tortillas on the side (free! and makes their bowl go farther). Sharing is ok. Make sure and ask for extra plates or bowls so you can divvy up the family style meal 😉
Water cups all around!
Tip #5 Stop taking Special Orders
No special orders at meal time. Mom (or dad) makes one thing for everybody. Take or leave it. Actually the only option is to take it in my house, sorry kids. Don’t make food preparation any more exhausting than it already is. Its easiest to make one meal for everyone than to try to entertain everyone’s pickiness.
Tip #6 Limit snacks in-between meals
Kids loooooooove to snack. But snacking too much and getting full off of typical snack foods can inhibit a child’s appetite when it comes time for a real meal. Try some sliced fruits, veggies, a smoothie or some nuts as a snack instead.
Tip #7 Try eating healthy yourself
All of these tips apply to yourself as well! You can’t expect a child to want to eat a platter of veggies if you are eating a pizza next to him or vice versa. Make it a lifestyle choice for the entire family. What we eat, the kids will eat. This is a family affair. To see Dose Wholeness for adults click here.
Tip #8 Cut out the MILK
Dairy is a fairly sensitive subject these days. We all know that “milk does a body good” mantra thats been engraved into our minds. A lot of people believe that cow’s milk is a proper meal replacement for a toddler and their doctors might agree. But isn’t cows milk meant for baby cows? The answer seems obvious. But all I will say is – I don’t think its a good idea to constantly fill our babes bellies with milk that wasn’t meant for them. If your child is drinking multiple cups of milk a day its likely his belly will be too full for anything else. Not to mention its a leading cause in childhood constipation. Instead try packing your child’s whole food diet with good fatty foods like avocados, wild caught salmon, olive oil and a good quality fish oil.
Tip #9 Let them choose their healthy treats
When you are at the grocery store try letting your kids pick out their favorite fruits or vegetables as a treat. The produce section is usually free reign within reason (nope those $9 strawberries are not in season, sorry). My nine year old gets ecstatic when she gets to choose some mangoes and my seven year old thinks that getting an organic pomegranate is just the coolest thing to ever happen at a grocery store. They’ll begin to take pride in choosing their food.
Tip #10 Talk to them about what they’re eating
Talk to your kids about what they eat and why its good for them. Its important to talk to them about nutrition and why we should take care of our bodies to stay healthy. They’ll get it. Knowledge is power even with kids. Try to keep an open dialogue about why we should be eating healthy foods over unhealthy foods.
Tip #11 The Try Everything Once Rule
We have a rule in our house that we have to try food a food at least once. If we don’t like that’s fine. But you’ll never know unless you try! The more processed foods you cut out and the more whole foods they eat, the more they will be ok with it.
Tip #12 Keep it simple
This doesn’t have to be complicated! Like I said, you don’t have to cut your fruit into cute little shapes or make pinterest worthy looking dishes. Keep it simple! Make some easy to put together meals with few ingredients. Keep foods simple; veggies (lots), fruits, grains (soaked), legumes (soaked) and high quality meats (organic and grass fed when you can). Load your grocery carts, refrigerators and pantries with whole foods and try to keep the barcodes to a minimum.
This isn’t about being perfect. Do the best that you can! I take pride in how well my children eat. They aren’t picky (eating like this is all they know so pickiness never had a chance). They eat a wide variety foods and ENJOY IT! I pray they are able to take the knowledge and guidance I’ve given them into their adulthood. A mama can only hope<3
(a photo of the Lopez and Thiele babes for ya)