As a normal-ish human being(or so I hope to think), I often doubt my parenting style and habits. Why do we always tend to zoom in on the negative, especially when it comes to parenting?
Recently, however, I had a sort of “positive” revelation that I, or should I say we (Kurt and I) must be doing at least one thing well.
Alyssa’s school had arranged for dieticians to chat to parents about overall nutrition for toddlers and pre-schoolers. I found the talk extremely useful and from listening to their presentation and questions from other parents it sounded like a lot of kids in this age group are either picky eaters or on the other extreme – over-eaters which could result in obesity.
Then, after listening to the advice given by the dieticians to get kids on a good eating path and as I looked at my notes, I realised we may just be doing a lot of this already.
Both our kids are very good eaters and have healthy appetites. They eat their veggies, drink lots of water, they finish their plate of food most nights and sometimes even ask for a second helping! There are nights when Aidan cannot wait to start eating and before everyone has even sat down he says “Amen” so that he can start on his feast. They do have their treats here and there, but they know the rule – Food first!
I now know that there are many Mom’s and Dad’s struggling to get their kids to eat or try new foods and in some cases, professional help may be needed to identify any underlying problem and work out a plan of action to get a child on track.
Please note that I am by no means a dietician or certified to give any medical advice, but I thought I would share some of our habits which may well be the reasons why my kids do eat quite well.
Getting them involved
Each day without fail, Alyssa and Aidan are helping Dad (and on the rare occasion Mom) cook Dinner. They help Dad cut up the veggies, measure the ingredients and spice the food. While they are “cooking” they are also tasting the raw veggies and chatting about the textures.
By doing this, I think it also gives them a vested interest in the meal which means they are more likely to eat it. And the fact that everyone’s eating the same meal, they are more willing to eat and enjoy their food.
Every week I try to buy a new fruit or vegetable, other than our usual ones, which I encourage them to try out. Some are a hit, others not but it’s worth a try.
Like for example, I bought a bag of raw dates for myself a few weeks ago & when I looked again, Alyssa and Aidan were helping themselves to it.
Takeaways are treats
There are definitely times when there’s no time (or desire) to cook, and we have our takeaways, but we try our best not to make it a routine thing. The kids are probably more excited about the toy or outing rather than the food, anyway.
For us, the best way to avoid getting takeaways is to plan our dinner menu for the week and shop for those ingredients. That way there’s no excuse to buy takeaways randomly unless something unexpected comes up.
I can’t even count how many times someone told me how their Mom or Gran forced them to finish their veggies at the dinner table. What our parents and grandparents didn’t realise back then, was that all that forcing down the throat was, in fact, traumatizing us, and making us literally not wanting to eat that specific vegetable EVER again!
I honestly don’t have the energy to beg and plead with my kids to finish that last pea. I think they will say when they are hungry and will choose what their body is craving. I honestly won’t stress if they don’t want to eat anything or everything at lunch or dinner. Of course, if it becomes a regular thing then I’d be concerned.
I try and make them feel “at home” in the kitchen as far as possible and nowadays Aidan even grabs a chair and takes out his own yoghurt out of the fridge.
The talk at school also focused a lot around sugar, and what was important to note is that sugar suppresses the appetite for food. So to get a child to eat a plate of food after they’ve just had a packet of sweets – you can forget about it!
I ate well during pregnancy
Is this a myth or is there any truth in this?
I don’t know the answer, but what I do know is that I tried to be as healthy as I could during pregnancy and ate all my veggies – so perhaps that is why the kids are rocking a good appetite now? Who knows…
Are your kids good or bad eaters? I’d love to hear.
If you have any tips on how you get your kids to eat their veggies – please do share what works for you, in the comments.