When my daughter was younger (as in two or three), we had no problem getting her to eat healthy food. She was always up for veggies and other healthy options. I remember having a conversation with my wife about how awesome it was that healthy eating seemed to be in her future. Then, she discovered sugar. Oh man, did things change in a hurry?
As she has grown, her tastes and preferences have changed. The foods that she will willingly eat has decreased. Now, it seems like all that she will eat is Spaghettios, chicken strips and pizza. My son is very similar, though he is probably not as picky about what he consumes.
We all want out children to be healthy and their diet is at the forefront of this. However, it can also be a struggle to get them to eat something that is not on their list of desired foods and, as many of you have experienced, we often find ourselves eating on the run. Schedules and routines force us into situations where we cannot necessarily always sit down for a meal.
What do we do?
We cannot just let our children eat whatever they want as that often would lead to the consumption of nothing but garbage. However, most people do not have the schedule that allows for a strict meal routine either.
Here are my three suggestions for ways to meet in the middle. And, this also only works if we first agree that the world will not end if our children still eat less than healthy options from time to time. There are much bigger battles in their development than this.
Suggestion #1: Have healthy options ready at all times in regards to on-the-go snacks. Do you feel like your afternoons and evenings are consumed with car rides to and from events? Soccer practice? Gymnastics? Karate? School events? Keep a snack bowl near the back door and keep it stocked with fresh fruit such as apples, bananas, and oranges. They are excellent options for a constantly moving family.
Suggestion #2: Make fruit and veggie smoothies available instead of soda. You would be impressed with the number of smoothie combinations that you can come up with that your children will drink. Buy yourself a high-quality blender and make a hobby out of discovering new combinations.
Suggestion #3: Have one night a week that is a mandatory healthy dinner night. Go ahead with the pizza on Friday night (maybe eat a salad with it). Let them eat McDonald’s on Tuesday since you have to eat something between appointments. But, Thursday night is healthy meal night. Put it on the calendar. It is not negotiable. On this night, they will at least attempt to consume whatever you put on the table. Tell them no to anything else. But, make it fun. Try to find a new recipe to introduce every week.
I think the key to all of this is finding a balance. You will burn yourself out trying to fight your kids over what they eat. Of course, you want them to stay healthy and their eating habits are a big part of that. Just meet them in the middle. As they get older, some of these suggestions could turn into habits for them as well.
Life is Strange. Live it Well.