I was talking with my best friend the other day about how lucky I felt that my daughter eats so well and healthy, all the time. I went to explain that she eats a lot, but refuses any kind of sweets. She stopped me right there and said “You’re not lucky. She just eats whatever you put in front of her.” That statement took me by surprise because she was right.
I just got used to hearing people tell me how lucky I was that my daughter eats everything. Since their kids only ask for sweets and refuse their greens.
Picky eaters are not born that way. It’s like a case of nurture vs. nature. It’s mainly the caregiver’s behavior and the environment they are surrounded in that sculpts the child’s choices. Maybe it even has to do with what we as moms eat now and what we ate when pregnant. My main craving when I was pregnant was fruits. Maybe that’s part of the reason why my daughter is nuts about fruits, asking me for “nana” (banana) and “ap” (apple) all the time!
She gets all the natural sugar from fresh fruits, so why give her candy, cake or even juice? I remember I had a hard time coming up with a cake for her first birthday since I knew she would refuse it. So she had a carrot cake cupcake, topped with fresh blueberries. I even made a healthy Greek yogurt frosting since she loves Greek yogurt. And you know what? She didn’t know what to do with it! The only thing she ate was the blueberries with the Greek yogurt frosting.
Ever since she was five months, I’ve only introduced her to organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed organic beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, and grains to encourage healthier eating habits. Not once was she ever picky or rejected any of the foods I’ve fed her. We also cook all of her food at home. Her day starts with plain fatty Greek yogurt, mixed with different fresh fruits each day. Her snacks throughout the day consist of chopped up carrots, apple, banana, citrus, milk, whole grain rice cakes, and other healthy organic options I get for her from Trader Joe’s. I always check the label for sugar and sodium levels and the ingredients for her snacks. Dinner is where we have fun mixing all the good stuff we have cooked for her, including meat, veggies, and grain varieties.
I’d also like to mention that I have been exclusively breastfeeding her since day 1 and still counting at 18 months. Simply put, this girl knows how to eat! A kid after my own heart, literally and figuratively.
Tips for healthier eating habits among your kids:
- Sweets should not be a reward for eating their greens. They will never understand or appreciate the value of a healthy option.
- Limit juice intake as they fill their tummies with empty calories. They need to get their calories and nutrition through food, not liquids filled with added sugars. And for the love of your child, no soda!
- When offering food, show them how much you enjoy it and be positive when you ask them to eat it.
- Show confidence, not fear, when approaching with their least favorite option. Kids are smart and will smell that before the food even comes in the picture.
- If they are not sure of something at first, don’t give up. Try again the next time. Maybe mix it with something complimentary.
- Tell them about the benefits if they choose to eat healthily. Think: living longer, growing stronger, etc.
- Setting a healthy relationship with food should start at a young age.
- Be their example. Eat healthily and consciously. Kids are sponges and they will do what you do. So instead of grabbing that can of Coke, grab an apple, or tangerine. Or whatever your heart desires. Your heart would literally desire a healthier option. Besides, don’t you want to be around a long time to see them get old in the first place?
Good luck mommas! Be positive and have confidence in teaching healthier eating habits. I believe in you but your little one believes in you more. 🙂