Wednesday, March 30, 2011

your kids eat what?!

It's been a few weeks since I've done one of our "Big Change" posts, so if you're just joining us, you can go back and see what has been talked about previously. 

Discussed my past romance with fast food.
You'll often find me indulging, guilt free.


We've been slowly making our way through my own personal journey to a healthier lifestyle. 

So the last place we left off, was me having babies. 
Teeny tiny people left in your care, for you to raise.
And grow.
And feed. 
But what should they eat?? 
With your first, you'll read every book, scan every baby website, and subscribe to every baby newsletter out there to help guide you on the way....right?
At least that's what I did. 
Start with this, try some of that. 
Wait a while to introduce that, but not before you let them try this.
It's all a bit annoyingly confusing.
But I loved feeding time with both my babies--nothing beats mashed carrots smeared in blonde hair 
(theirs and mine).
But then what??
They do have to start eating non-baby foods eventually, and I was anxious to stop buying those expensive little jars. 
So, they ate what we ate.
All of it. 
No separate dinners for baby. 
Whatever we ate, went right into my little chopper and out came instant baby food.
Our pasta.
Our chili.
Our enchiladas.
And they ate it--because it was dinner. 

So I have a hard time answering people when they ask me how I get my kids to eat this food or that food, or most commonly asked, how to eat vegetables. 

My kids have never known they had an option.

You can't expect your kids to like something if you don't let them experience it.

At three years old, I caught they boy's tiny hand up on the cutting board sneaking chopped onions. 
I was disgusted, but let him do it, because hey--he liked it! 
If you ask him his favorite food today he just might tell you cilantro. 

My kids like strong flavors, but only because I've always exposed them to different things. 

If you have little teeny tiny ones at home, give them all the veggies you can. If they turn it down once, try try again--chances are they will change their mind. 

If they are older, here are some ideas on getting them to try new things 

-Let them help. If you involve your kids in the kitchen--let them add this and stir that, have them help plan the menu, they will be more excited about eating it.

-Plant a garden. For many of you it's planting season already! We are getting ourselves ready for some cold weather veggies soon. Let your kids get dirty with you--
they will love to dig and look for worms. 
Ask them what they want to plant, and let them do it. 
If they watch their very own plant grow, chances are they will be excited to try it out.
If you don't have the space for a garden--plant one or two pots. One tomato plant can be so fun for kids to watch grow.

-Take them to the grocery store with you. Let them pick out any fruit or veggie they like. 
Anything goes. 
You may end up having to try something new too:)

-Take them to your local farmer's market. They will LOVE it, as will you. This is one of our favorite places to be in the summer. Most of the farmers are giving out samples, which will allow them to try all kinds of yummy produce. And again, let them pick out something they want to try.

-Don't take no for an answer.....haha does that sound mean?? But really, remember that YOU are the mom/(do dads read this thing?), and you know what's best for your kids. In this case, vegetables are best for your kids. If they don't like it, make them eat three bites. Three bites won't kill them, I promise.
Have it again the next week, make them try three bites again. If you avoid certain foods, they'll never learn to like them.

-Be a good example. Your kids watch EVERYTHING you do ("but mommy, YOUR room isn't clean"), so if you're not eating your veggies, chances are they won't either.

My challenge for you this week, is to try a new fruit or vegetable-whether it's one you choose, or something your kids want to try. 

It's never too late to get a good variety of produce into your kids' (and your:) diet. 

I would love to hear what you are trying, and also any tips you have on getting kids to try new things! 
I'll be posting my favs on my facebook page, if you'd like to come join the discussion.

happy eating!


Amy said...

Thanks, great post, very inspiring. I hope that I'll be able to bring my kids up to actively enjoy healthy food if I have them, but my big worry is your last point: Setting an example. My boyfriend won't eat vegetables or fruit! It's because his stepmother forced him to eat it and wouldn't eat him leave the table until he ate it, invariably causing him to be sick, but he's missing out on so much, and it worries me that it will be impossible to get kids to eat healthily if their dad doesn't...

You are lucky to have a partner who loves eating well too!


Shannon said...

There are so many factors to getting kids to eat good foods. I think you are right that exposing them to all kinds of flavors early on is a great way to train your kids to be open to trying new things. I do force my kids to eat 3 bites of veggies, but I have my doubts about doing it. I do it because that's how it was done when I was little. I am not a veggie fan, but I eat them as an adult because I know they are good for me. I guess that's the thinking that forcing the veggies teaches. I also agree with Amy that having your husband enjoy eating well helps too.
PS-I'd love to hear how to got your gardening start. I want to plant some herbs and such, but I just have no clue where to begin.

Brandi LeAnn said...

I like you & I like this post. I have a teeny tiny kiddo but this is what I shall do when the time comes along..

Becca said...

Although I do not yet have kids. I totally appreciated this post and completely agree!


Unknown said...

my daughter has never had an appetite, she is a little wee one.

my dr told me to take out snacks and focus more on meals for her. i thought i was a good mom giving snacks but in reality that is not where she gets her nutrients!

she now goes for her carrots first on her plate, and asparagus is her favorite veggie. i agree-do not make separate meals, too much of a pain, hassle and more expensive!

my friends blog has this cute idea for kids and experimenting with food:

Unknown said...

Loved this post! I use to be a nanny and let me tell you getting kids to eat what is good for them after having no example set or expectation to eat what they don't care for- is really hard to change. Great advice!

Carrie said...

I love your blog... Can't remember where I found you, but I subscribed after your running post. So dang inspiring. Thanks for that.

Anyway, I have a 6 year old who will eat almost anything and will happily try everything, but let me tell you, I have forced my 3 year old to take one tiny bite of something on his plate, only to have him actually gag and throw up all over the table toooooo many times to try much now. I'm just so scared he'll throw up and the no one can eat. :)

Carrie said...


Anonymous said...

I would like to think that I will do all of the above when I have kids.

I especially loved the "don't take no" part. I observe so many parents letting their kids rule THEM!! It's mind boggling.

They complain "My kid won't eat vegtables." Well, when you give them cookies because they won't eat their vegtables....hmm....I wouldn't like vegtables either!

Healthy habits start young.

summer said...

sheena! you are my favorite. i couldn't agree with you more- and erin's comment too! the "don't take no" part was brilliant, not mean. because if you love your kids, you'll help them love good food! also the "my kids have never known they had an option" thing- SO great. you're my hero! you've trained them well:)

i'm determined to help my kids have a better relationship with veggies (and other "hard to eat" foods) than i did at that age. they could enjoy so much more, for so much of their life if they just grow up with the right stuff!

Janna McCalley said...

Wow! I agree with everything you said-maybe that's because I was raised that way, and now all my siblings and I are adventurous eaters!Some of my best memories are grocerie shopping with mom(there were 9 kids, and we'd take turns going with her), picking out fruits and veggies to try. She also had us involved in the kitchen, experimenting and playing with flavours. We were expected to eat what was in front of us-and rarely was that a problem! I intend to be the same way with my kids!

Unknown said...

I love that you are posting these great tips and challenging parents to take charge. Kids aren't born loving candy and hating vegetables. We have to look at ourselves and our influence over our children. They completely model adult behavior.

Although I don't have children right now, I hope to implement these good habits when I do.

kim west said...

I give my kids veggies at every dinner...and at first..they hated them. but my daughter has grown to love love broccoli...and my son is slowing trying them. I don't force it...but it's always there and they always have to have like 3 green beans. I also leave carrots and apples ALWAYS in the fridge...and they are always allowed to eat them. They can go through a bag of carrots in a day!

kim west said...

oh...and you should do a garden basic post...cause I literally killed an aloe plant.

judi said...

You know I love the pictures.....

Amelia PS said...

fantastic: you have my same EXACT philosophy. My kids were always exposed to everything. They always eat what we eat, because ew do not cater to different likes. They like everything. I made them home made baby food when they were babies and that trained their palate to variety and lots of vegs/fruits. I have a hard time understanding why some parents say they kids will only eat chicken usual answer is...because that's all they have been fed!

Heather said...

I could not agree more! This is perfectly put!! I did the exact same thing with my boys, and people were always like "your kids will drink water?!" Uh...yeah. That's what I give them til about 1, then I'll do juice, and that's kind of here and there. I made a lot of my baby food too, not all, but a lot. I would just do batches on a Sunday night. It seems hard and intimidating but it really is easy!

I think when kids eat real food from the get go, they tend to stick to it. My pediatrician told me with my first not to buy into a lot of the baby snacks and prepackaged dinners and lunches, it's a marketing ploy. They can eat what you eat! And it's true, try, try again! Sometimes you have to introduce something 10-12 times before they will try it, and 9 times out of 10 they end up liking it :) Being consistent is key! Thanks for this post, I loved reading it!

Kimmie said...

First off, you have such a way with words!!

It's so refreshing to have other parents out there that think like my hubby and I do.

I have never taken NO for an answer either. I cooked and pureed veggies for my kids when they started eating solids (I Couldn't buy those baby food jars...too much money for what you are getting and I didn't want to feed my kids such processed things).

From day one my kids have ate what we ate and they LOVE all things. They love artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions, beets, Bok Choy, spinach, kale, sprouts, green beans and peas and the list goes on. I really can't think of anything they don't like. They just know that there's no getting out of eating and so they eat what's on their plate. My opinion is picky eaters aren't born, they are created by parents who allow their kids to be picky.

Love your blog!! Thanks for inspiring us! I have shared many healthy recipes that I make for my family on my blog. My blog is my place for sharing recipes, frugal living things I do and also a place to journal my family events as well. Similar to how your blog is.

Anywho, love your creative writing style!I will definitely be coming back for more wonderful reading and ideas.

You are awesome! Hope you have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for taking this approach to feeding your kids, and being able to reap the benefits. It's funny how what you described is really quite simple, but new parents can freak themselves out over how to start their kids on real solids. Being overly vigilant is probably going to cause more issues with food.

The one thing I'd add is that this approach really only works if you yourself have a healthy, well-balanced diet. For parents that don't know how to cook (or haven't made a regular habit of cooking, which is sadly becoming the norm in America), it's much more difficult for healthy eating habits to naturally evolve in the kids.

Tanae said...

My husband and I have raised our kids the same way. My three year old loves to sit next to me when I am cutting veggies on the cutting board. She'd eat most of them if I let her.
This past christmas my daughter kept going back for more veggies on the veggie tray. one of my cousins asked me how I was able to teach her to eat so good, and I didn't know what to tell her. She just always eats what we eat.
One philosophy that my husband and I have followed has been to let her try all foods. We sometimes hear people say, oh don't give that to her, she won't like it. But we have let her try everything...and to this day there is not a food she doesn't like. She loves thai food, indian food, mexican, you name it- she'll eat it. for her third birthday party when we asked her what she wanted to eat for her special birthday dinner she said "rice and beans!" I loved it, no McDonalds for us.

Meg said...

Hi Sheena,

Been following your blog for about a months now, sorry I'm not much of a commenter! Just wanted to say it's such a coincidence you're telling us to try new fruit and veg this week, as I was in the grocer's the other day and bought a few quinces on a whim. I am now a full on quince convert!

Keep up the great work!

Darcy said...

Sheena you are so inspiring! I wanted to share with you what happened last night after reading this post. (I've been going through the archives).

So, I will admit up front that I am occasionally guilty of preparing seperate meals for my 4 year old, albeit healthy and well-balanced meals. (I think I was just trying to avoid the dinner time drama since so much of our day seems to be melt-downs and whining). So after reading this post I felt so inspired that I decided right then and there, no more. He was going to eat whatever was on the menu that night. It was salmon (with your mango and black bean salsa). Oh boy. I thought for sure he'd go to bed hungry that night. But guess what? HE LOVED THE SALMON! He ate every last bite and even said how cool it was that he was eating red fish, because his favorite color is red. I was amazed....and felt a little guilty that I had waited so long. So thank you for this motivating post, it really was what I needed to hear. And I now plan on serving only one meal for the whole family. So thanks again! I just love your blog!!!!!!