I love feeding my family, and especially my children. Certainly, for some reason I derive a ton of pleasure from watching my little peanuts eat, and watching them grow into healthy little humans. Recently, my daughter started asking, “Mama, what’s this good for me for?” “It’s good for my eyes?” “It’s good for my belly?” It’s really cute because she wants to know why it’s important to eat what she’s eating. When I put food in front of them, and it’s perhaps some “new” food, I want her to realize that she’s eating grub NOT just because it tastes good, but because it helps nourish the body. My younger two babies really enjoy this game of eating and knowing how the food is helping them flourish.
A while ago, I asked my son if he wanted to go to the movies, and his response was: “No, you just sit there and eat junk.” Now, we have not been to the movies in years, and I can’t ever recall ever ever ever saying something like this, or if I did, I would have never said this in front of him. He’s a pretty witty character so I really believe he gets it, and figured this out on his own. Of course the movies are so much fun, and I can’t wait to go and have a blast soon going to see a cool movie, and it certainly doesn’t have to be two hours full of junk food, but we all get the idea.
We don’t eat out, because my daughter is three, and eating out with her is just not fun for anyone. We did go to a fall festival in the fall, and went to a little sushi place afterwords to celebrate LIFE and HAPPINESS in general, and I remember before leaving the restaurant, I squatted down and picked up all the rice that fell to the ground while she was eating. As I’m bent over, practically sitting on the restaurant floor like a clown, trying to use a napkin or a wet-wipe to grab sticky and soft rice off the ground, I knew we weren’t doing this again, for a very long time.
So at home, we cook, and there are absolutely no rules to what they eat, and how much they eat. We’re like a free range farm! The only rule is that you must eat with your mouth closed and say please and thank you, but other than this – it’s about fun! I purchased these green trays from the dollar store, and put a few different things on the trays most evenings for the kids to eat.
And you know what they do – they all eat so differently. Our 15 year old, obviously is 15 and grown enough to eat what she wants, and can ask for more, but I still like to give her a lot of fruit along with the main course. The little people can be picky, but they always figure out what they love most. The other evening, my beautiful sister and my almost three year old nephew were visiting and so on each plate I put:
organic chicken, grilled
rice with vegetables & turkey bacon
pasta with creamy sauce
So my son ate just the chicken and mandarins, my daughter ate JUST the strawberries, and my nephew ate the strawberries and rice. And that’s how different and cool kids are. They will eat what they want, and whatever they need at that moment.
I know a lot of parents feel like short order chefs/cooks, and I too feel like this, but whenever they ask me for a snack or for a meal, I offer them fruit first, or cucumbers or carrots or avocado (this seems to be the only raw veggie they will eat). This way, it’s super quick to eat and prepare, and easy to put away if they don’t eat all of it.
Last night I made pasta and added flax seeds and chia seeds to the mix, and served it with more fruit for our oldest, and apples for my son and avocado for my three year old. My son ate just the apples, and my little one ate all the pasta and then asked for more avocado. My son doesn’t love avocado at this time, but did eat it when he was younger. I’ll keep trying with him, but I know he loves apples and have no issues feeding him a small one for breakfast and dinner, along with other grub.
I’ve learned that adults don’t need to eat that often. We don’t need 6 small/big meals a day, but I do believe that kids have tiny little bellies, and my children in particular do well eating a bit here and there. As soon as my daughter comes home from school she wants waffles. I either make her a waffle (with flax and chia and coconut oil), or have it already ready, and then she eats a big bowl of frozen blueberries. When it’s time for dinner, she may eat all of it, or none of it at all. It really doesn’t bother me either way, because I do think kids are extremely smart and have that intuitive eating down. We, adults, on the other hand, have lost this ability. If my kiddos can keep their intuitive eating up for a long long time, it would make me extremely happy.
I, like all mamas and parents, care about their education, and hope they are socializing correctly, and think often about their futures, and want to make sure I am doing everything I can to give them a super present so that their future is strong and bright, but their food I do not worry about. I know that because we eat at home, I am doing the best I can. My son packs his lunch for school, and my little one eats at school. When we go to birthday parties, they have whatever they want. When we came home from Halloween, they had their candy, and we got rid of the rest. We don’t have candy sitting out, and it’s not normal for us to have junk food sitting out. BUT, when this happens, and things like this are available to them, they have it, and we move on. I don’t worry or stress over this at all. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to absolutely control 100% of your children’s food environments, but I def love putting in an effort to make sure they have all they could need and want, most of the time.
We cook a lot of grub ourselves, and even my husband makes our own bread. I want them to know and understand that food can be made and even though I buy pastas, and we don’t raise animals, and we don’t have a garden (just yet), food has to come from somewhere, and ideally not a factory.
Here are the three birds standing around their father, as he rolls out dough. They love participating and making their own little pizzas or calzones.
For over a year now, I’ve had meal shakes and undenatured protein shakes shipped to our house. Our oldest has one for breakfast each day. It’s a perfect combo of protein and fat and carbohydrates and fiber for a growing girl, and fueling her muscles and energy. I or my husband make her one each morning and I know she’s going to school ready to rock. This is my form of “fast food” and I couldn’t be more happy that this is how she starts off her day. My son will have one either for breakfast, or dinner. Last night, when he was helping unload the dishwasher he drank the whole thing just walking around the kitchen putting forks away. Again, our meals aren’t ALWAYS perfect (far from it I’m sure), but having nutrients via shake makes me more than thrilled, knowing he’s getting goodness into his little body quickly.
What has really started to change for us in the past year, is making an effort to always create home cooked and home made meals. Even when we have celebrations and parties and friends over, I like to focus on real food. Sure, there are times I purchased little pre-made quiches or other cute things, but lately, and certainly for the rest of this year – it’s going to be real food that serves our bodies, versus hurts our bodies. Even for the AMAZING SUPER BOWL GAME that is coming up, my husband wants to get Publix’s fried chicken wings. But I suggested let’s make our own. We can put as much batter and oil and whatever else he wants on them, but when they are HOME MADE they are really just that much more stellar. I also appreciate when we go to our friend’s houses, it’s always mostly homemade grub, which feeds us all on such a deep level.
Here are our two smallest wonders, and they are prepping a fruit tray. Just putting fruit (grapes & blueberries) on a skewer makes eating them that much more fun. Heck, I can go without the little plastic sticks, but for kids, this is a big deal! And if it helps them eat more blueberries and less chips, it’s a win!
Overall, the most important thing you can do with your kiddos is set a great example by eating whole real food yourself, and then, have fun with it. Don’t stress that your children aren’t eating every single piece of clean chicken or brown rice or this or that. Just give them as many options as it makes sense for you, and then let them feed themselves. It’s actually so much fun watching what my son will eat versus my daughter – yet they are both thriving and growing and getting their nutrients in.
Here’s our favorite green trays and some different dinners from the past few weeks.
What has definitely helped feed them has been keeping a fridge full of fruit they like. Right now, they like pineapple, and apples, and strawberries, and mandarins, and grapes, and blueberries, and melon and even kiwi. We don’t have ALL of these foods stocked at all times, and sometimes we just have apples, cuz you can get like 25 for $4 at Aldi, but we all survive, and other times we do! I wish they loved bananas more, but I think as they grow, they will.
Do I spend a TON of money on grub each week or month? Sometimes it feels like this. And other times I know I do not. I shop at Aldi which helps a lot, and we don’t mind leftovers. There is no food thrown out, and as much as I like when they try new things, I know what my children like.
Do my kids eat processed food? Absolutely. When outside the home, I am not the mom pulling out hot-dogs or cookies out of my kiddos hands. But do I pick and choose carefully the events we attend? Yes. If it makes sense to control something and avoid a breakfast of cake a pizza – go for it. Are we perfect inside our home? No. We have a pantry of graham crackers and teddy bears snacks and Z-bars. We have pizza Tostitos in the freezer, we have chicken patties, but we have less of this each month. Less fast food, and now more fast fruit.
Here is my free range chicken helping herself.
As mamas and papas we have a LOT on plates. Decide to have fun with your children and what you feed them. Feed yourself well, and improve on this monthly. And as you improve and enjoy your diet, you’ll see the kiddos taking after you. It’s a long journey raising health conscious and children excited about nutrition and food, but it’s possible, and we have a good amount of time to get it right!
Cheeers, and start right now. I bet if you are reading this, you are already kicking arse, and getting your kiddos grub on track and thriving. So cheers to this, and good job!