Often I get asked the question, “How do you get your kids to eat so well?” It could be that they’ve been raised with good food and a variety of foods since they were young. They were exposed early on to different flavors. At the age of two it was pretty normal for our kids to be eating avocados and hummus. They would quickly move onto finger foods such as baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and red peppers. I found that if it was colorful and small and came with a dip of some sort, it would get eaten! Little ramekins are a mom’s best friend. It makes the food more manageable and not so overwhelming as a plate piled with food. I’d slice grilled chicken and offer it with a dip of yogurt. Or, a favorite around here, is the “snackable lunch” which is a healthier version of a pre-packaged Snackable. I pull out a large platter (I have five kids) and I slice up salami or some kind of hard smoked sausage. I also slice up hard cheddar, put out a whole grain cracker, veggies and a choice of honey mustard or peanut butter. I pile on some grapes and strawberries or apple slices. They each get a small plate and spend time creating their own lunches.
Another thing that I think helps children eat healthy, is to give them choices. They love to feel in control. Now, by choices I don’t mean you let them stand in front of the refrigerator at dinner and choose what you are going to make for them! I not a short order cook! But, I do mean, when you set out a tray loaded with healthy choices, they feel in control and they don’t realize that any choice they make is a good one. Plus, they have fun eating!
I’m also a firm believer you shouldn’t set up “No Zones”. Many moms I meet, who want their kids to eat healthy, remove every bit of sugar in the house. They may think they’re controlling their kid’s culinary world. It’s very possible they have compliant kids who, all through their lives will take thier word for it…never try the sugar and be amazingly, well balanced eaters. Or they may have the kind of kids, that the moment they hit the school cafeteria, buddy up with the Tasty Cake, Ho Ho, Twinkie-packed-lunch-box-kid and enjoy some bad for your body stuff while you’re not looking. Chances are if they have multiple kids, like I do, they’ll have a mix! So, our solution is to offer up lots of choices in the way of candy, but in small portions.
I have come up with the candy drawer, healthy snack drawer solution in my house. The healthy snack drawer is loaded with granola bars, dried fruits, nuts, multi grain cereal bars, etc…
The candy drawer looks like this.
The drawer is kept stocked with individual size pieces of candy. Both drawers are easy to reach. If they are hungry they know at any time they can get a piece of fruit or vegetable without asking. But, if they want a “snack” they ask. I say, ‘Yes, you can have something out of the healthy drawer.” Or if it’s after lunch, I may surprise them and say, “You can pick two things out of the candy drawer.” And, again, they have choices without realizing I have helped them to make good ones.
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