Eating Healthy With Kids

Elliot eating Broccoli

Elliot (3 1/2) Eating a head of broccoli. This was a snack he requested.

Regularly, people ask me “How do you get your kids to eat healthy? Mine will only eat bread and chicken.”

I never thought about it as “getting” him to eat healthy. I really didn’t. From the start, I knew that Elliot would eat A) What I ate and B) What I had available to him. (also know ask, “What I fix.”)

So even when he was tiny, I would fix his baby food by blending up what I was eating. Which meant, I took much more care, and paid more attention to what I was eating.

He has always been my biggest motivation to be a better person, but that’s another blog 🙂

Basically, what I’m saying is that to get your kids to “eat healthy” YOU have to eat healthy. As my mother always says, “your children will do as you do, not as you say.” It was never enough to say “Elliot, eat healthy.” I had to live the life I wanted him to admire. When he’s grown, he will make his own choices and they might not be to choose healthy, or exercise, or any of the things I try to model for him, but the fact is he WILL do as I do. So I better DO right.

That’s why I have this blog, ultimately, I believe. Because living healthy is a journey. I haven’t cared what I was eating for so long, and now I am paying attention to chemicals, additives, even sourcing my food.

Mine and Elliots fruit lunch

Mine and Elliot’s fruititarian lunch. Cantaloupe, applesauce (organic, no sugar), pitted organic cherries& pecans, drizzled with honey. Elliot doesn’t like cherries, so his was cherry-free.

If you’d like a little encouragement, too, here’s my take on kids and eating. They aren’t going to starve themselves. They may be stubborn. I have met a few I think really would go an entire 24 hours without eating just because they wanted chicken fingers instead of fruit. But the thing is, if all you have available in the house is healthy food, they will get hungry enough to eat some of it. It’s not like an allergy where they actually need alternatives to what’s there. Deciding they don’t like how broccoli tastes is a preferential thing, and totally shapeable by parents. Start with yummy healthy foods, like sweet fruit. Then slide in some vegetables later. You can even start with yummy vegetables, like potatoes. As you change what they are eating, their taste buds will change, and they will start to like things like broccoli.

I kid you not, my son–on his own initiative–went to the fridge the other day and ate RAW, a handful of Kale leaves. How disgusting does that sound? Well, if you like Kale, you can sing his praises. I was floored. I hate Kale. I put some of it in smoothies because there’s no way around how healthy it is for you, but when it comes to just eating it, the kid’s out pacing me.

But that’s what I mean when I say they won’t starve. Most kids will try to “outlast” you, thinking they can worry you into getting them what they want. They know you think their nutrition is important (though in their minds it probably sounds like “Mommy wants me to eat.”) So kids will wait, and some will wait a LONG time, but they are young, and they are fairly instinctual, AND the most important part? They are selfish. They WILL take care of themselves.

Don’t believe me? If your son is hungry and he asks you to fix him breakfast, but you take too long–how long does it take before he’s digging something out of the pantry/fridge himself?

Give it a try at home. Start by eating healthy yourself. All the time. Then have only healthy food available in the house, and be ok saying “you don’t have to eat this meal if you don’t like it, but I’m not fixing anything else.” I am always a fan of child’s right to say no to eating something, but that right doesn’t move over into requiring I fix to that child’s preference.

How is it going? Do you have any questions? If you’re already eating healthy at home, do you have any advice for other moms that are making the transition?

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