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Moms Talk: How Do You Get Your Kids to Eat Healthy?

Help your children make healthy decisions regarding food.

This week our moms are discussing healthy meal ideas and how you can put a nutritious spin on a traditionally unhealthy meal. Some foods just need a small adjustment in order to be much more nutrient dense. You can choose a different source of meat, add more veggies, or go wild and try something completely new.

I think a good way to involve children in making healthy food choices is to tell them the benefits of eating certain foods (and limiting others). I explain that protein builds muscles and carbohydrates give you energy. Therefore, if you want to be a fast runner and have strong muscles, you need both foods. Vegetables give you vitamins that help you grow taller. It’s that simple, and children like making good decisions. In fact, if I forget, sometimes my son reminds me that sugar and caffeine are bad for you. Kids are very good at following rules!

In my house, for example, kids are not allowed to ask for an alternate meal. They eat what I serve or go hungry. It may sound harsh, but my kids don’t whine for mac and cheese when I make salmon and broccoli. My oldest has learned that he has to try new foods, and he is usually surprised to find out that they taste pretty good. The only things he won’t budge on are onions and guacamole, which are understandably not very kid-friendly.

How do you get your children to eat vegetables, cut sugar and limit unhealthy snacking between meals? Share your recipes and tricks here.

Frantiska Anirudhan March 03, 2011 at 08:32 PM
Hello everyone! I'm sorry for the delayed response but we are all sick at my house right now! ;-( Our household is very similar to Kristen's. I very rarely allow alternate meals. What I used to do with my son if he refused to eat dinner was to put it on the stove and wait until eight o'clock. By that time he was starving and he ended up eating everything off the plate! The incentive was a snack that followed after dinner. It always worked and still does. My son loves snacks, so we always make sure he eats his main dish first. As far as kid friendly and nutritious recipes - I have a ton! For example, I hide shredded carrots in the spaghetti. I make the spaghetti from scratch using fresh ripe tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, garlic....and I add one shredded carrot. It makes the sauce sweeter for the kids and they have no idea it's there! The good thing about cooking from scratch is that my kids end up snacking on carrots, celery sticks, mushroom, and even onions! My older son loves raw onion! Strange, but I guess it's good for him. I also put shredded carrots and cauliflower into my turkey meatloaf along with peas and onion, garlic....Since I shred the carrots and cauliflower, the kids don't know it's there. For my little guy, I shred apple and a little bit of carrot and mix it with crushed villa wafers. He loves it! But yes, I am a strong believer of having the kids eat what is offered and not giving them an alternate choice. They have so many choices already!
Kristen Rivers March 04, 2011 at 02:07 PM
Wow, I never thought to put shredded cauliflower in meatloaf. That with peas sounds pretty good! I have tasted the apple, carrot, Nilla wafer mixture and I can say that it is GOOD! You mostly taste the wafers :) Thanks for the tips, Fran! Alissa, thanks for doing some research- that salmon recipe sounds yummy! I also wanted to mention Jessica Seinfeld's website and numerous cook books that tell you how to sneak pureed veggies into any meal without anyone noticing! I want to try that tactic for some extra vitamins in our meals. It might also help me try making homemade baby food, which so far I am afraid of! http://www.doitdelicious.com/ Bridget, Russ and Steven- thanks for your honesty! The truth is you don't win all of your battles with children, so as long as you are trying to feed them healthy and they are eating, that is all that matters. I like Bridget's idea to start the day with Pediasure to make sure that vitamins are part of the mix. And Russ, gummy bear vitamins are my favorite! I like to think that everyone deserves a nice cookie and milk after dinner. Like Fran and Alissa said, it's all about the snacks. If you can bribe kids to eat something healthy in order to get their cookie, it's not all bad. Just make sure to be careful not to use food in an unhealthy way. You don't want your kids to have negative associations with food and eating disorders later on. Never say they are "bad" or "fat" because of what they eat or like- emphasize the benefits of food.
Kristen Rivers March 04, 2011 at 02:53 PM
I am officially in love with doitdelicious.com! Jessica posts videos of how to make her recipes, and they literally only take minutes! Really creative stuff, too :)
alissa bruechert March 05, 2011 at 05:27 AM
I love doitdelicous.com. I went to the library and checked out her book as well. I love it. I too never would have thought about putting cauliflower in meatloaf. Weird, but in a good way. She gives great tips on food, but also in the book there are some other tips as well. I haven't read through the whole thing yet, but I love it so far. Thanks Kristen for the website. I have talked with my cousin who also plans on making her own baby food. She says it's pretty simple. I have read up on it as well, but I also found some great websites on it. This one below is my favorite. http://www.wholesomebabyfood.com/ Also, a friend has made baby food for her daughter, and a portion for baby food is one ice cube slot in an ice cube tray. She makes about a weeks worth of baby food in one shot, then freezes them in ice cube trays. It seems to work very well for her. I found a great website on that too. What can I say, I love to research things. I hope these links help. I wish I would have thought of these when my daughter was on baby food. Oh well, hopefully I will remember for the next one:) http://www.rookiemoms.com/make-food/
alissa bruechert March 05, 2011 at 05:32 AM
Steven, my husband and I do the same thing. Instead of microwaving spaghettios, I cook them on the stovetop. Somehow it makes me feel as if I am a better mommy for doing it that way. :)

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