Raising Healthy Eaters
I just posted this photo of my boys sharing guacamole and carrot sticks on my Instagram story and got a ton of feedback in only a few minutes about how I get my little boys eat so well. I was honestly posting it to capture a moment where they were hungry enough to share one bowl, I didn’t even mind its contents. But from all these mothers messaging me, “How do you get them to eat that? My son/daughter only wants macaroni or chicken nuggets!” I decided to share the same advice that I gave privately here on my platform! So here’s my advice to all moms and anyone raising or helping raise toddlers who are extremely picky eaters!!
1. Ditch the junk food… today!
Honestly, it is so easy to train a child’s palate. Throw out all the junk in your house because if he knows it’s there, that’s all he’ll want. Throw it all out ONE TIME because it’ll also be effective in your mind to make a point that it’s worthless & you will make the effort not to buy more and to shop more consciously.
2. No more wrappers
Replace anything that has a wrapper with anything that has a peel/skin. Bananas, oranges, apples, tangerines, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple grapes, and berries. Wrappers mean that a food has been processed. And when you have a chance to buy any of these things organically, do so.
3. shop consciously
Stores also have precut fruits that are very convenient for busy moms. When you shop, always shop the outskirts of the store. This was a tip I read a long time ago and realized that it meant to shop FRESH. Anything in the middle of the store has been processed. The outskirts of the store are the produce and the refrigerated foods like dairy and protein. It’s also important to (if you don’t already, gradually) replace dairy with alternative milk options and replace meats with vegan protein options like nuts and legumes. If you can, also shop with the intention to reduce your personal consumption of plastic (especially single-use plastics), paper and wood, palm oil, soya, meat, and dairy. These products are destroying forests, oceans, our planet, and its atmosphere. Your personal actions may not create a huge impact on the entire world, but the impact on your childrens’ future actions are enough of a reason to make the changes in your daily life.
Feed your child/children at certain times based on routine instead of the clock: breakfast comes right after getting dressed, snack comes after you play, we always read after having a snack, you get lunch before your nap, there is always a snack to make after nap, dinner before bath. This trains their brains to expect & anticipate food at certain times, which makes it easier to serve them and not get totally ignored or worse: tantrum.
5. Lead by example
Kids rarely listen to instruction, instead they pick up habits and follow along. “Do what I say, not what I do” is incorrect. So sit down and eat while your kids eat, have them help you cook, and even have them help with dishes and sweeping. Yes, my two-year-olds sweep and help with cooking and help with dishes. They’re only two so I don’t expect perfection but I always encourage them when they WANT to help.
6. always have something a little prepped
Lately, when my twins nap I start to prep dinner. That way it’s on time, it’s not too hot, and I don’t need to grab something unhealthy on the fly. Today, it’s curry chicken and rice. They’re napping while I write this and I prepped the chicken yesterday. During the schoolyear I prep the night before after they’ve gone to bed. It’s important to prep because I can’t really cut, blend, and cook with toddlers on my feet. I also try to never microwave their food because microwaves kill living nutrients. I really try to always consider their food to be fuel to their growth & development. So here’s what I do in more basic terms: cut, prep sauces, and plan carbs for tomorrow/tonight’s meal while the babies sleep then with their help I throw it all on the stove and play with them before dinner, then serve, we eat together, and then we clean together then they bathe and get ready for bed. MUCH easier than cutting and prepping with toddlers running around and trying to do everything by myself!!
7. “He’s still picky!”
Of course, some foods he’ll like more than others and when that happens, let it. If he prefers bananas this week, buy extra bananas! Next week he might change his mind and eat lots of grapes or tangerines. Just change what is available. Whatever he asks for, if it’s good for him let him have it. If you eliminate the junk food, he won’t ask for it!