Being a mom isn’t easy. Between working and attempting to raise well adjusted, kind human beings, I find that there is always something left undone.
One area in parenting that I have always struggled with is how to feed my kids healthy food. After a lot of trial and error, I have found a few tricks that have made my life so much easier at mealtime.
I hope you try some of these tricks at home and have the same success I did!
Why Kids Don’t Like Good Food
Do you remember hating garlic, onion, and blue cheese as a kid? All these foods have strong tastes that can really overpower a meal and palate. Generally, most little kids don’t like strong tasting foods.
As we age we lose taste buds.
Food doesn’t taste as strong to an adult as it does to a 3-year-old. When I learned this little fact I was able to appreciate my kids’ food choices and understand why they hated my homemade garlicky pasta sauce!
OK, now we understand that our picky kid might be overwhelmed with flavor and not actually looking for a reason to make our lives harder (or are they…??). But getting that picky kid to eat more than mac n cheese and granola bars is going to be hard! It’s going to take persistence and a bit of creativity on your part.
All the Tricks
Give vegetables fun names, cut food into different shapes, and most of all keep introducing rejected foods to your child. It may take 30 times before your kid realizes that cucumbers are just crunchy water circles, but once they do, you’ll be so happy you didn’t give up!
The hardest part for our family is not making a different meal for a kid who sticks their nose up at what’s being served. I HATE being a short order cook, but I’ll be the first to admit that I succumb to the demands of my little people way too much. When I enforce the, “what’s served is what you are eating” rule I get to sit back and watch all the kids eat the fish, potatoes, and veggies and not worry about making peanut butter and jelly for them!
In efforts to not start World War III in my house, I prepare dinners that aren’t completely repulsive to my kids. I know they will always eat roasted potatoes, so I’ll pair that up with salmon, which isn’t their favorite.
Occasionally, (ok, like every night…) I have a kid who won’t eat something that I serve and then the real struggle begins. When this happens don’t give into your munchkin! I promise they won’t starve themselves to death because they’ve missed one dinner. Once they’ve realized that you won’t make a separate meal for them, they will at least try the stinky salmon and then eat all the potatoes you’re willing to serve!
Make it Fun for Everyone
My last piece of advice is to lead by example and to truly enjoy the process. Kids are developing their sense of independence and what goes into their mouths is one of the few things they can control.
Make dinner an event! It should be something fun that everyone wants to be a part of and can contribute to. Have your toddler set napkins on the table. School-age kiddos can set the table and help with simple food prep. Getting all of my kids involved has made a huge difference in the excitement surrounding mealtime.
Feeding my kids healthy food is something that I am always working on and often fail at accomplishing. I will have a great meal planned, my kids will fight me, and it derails into them eating mac n cheese. I don’t sweat it and move on. There’s always next time!