This was lunch today for my family and for my child care kids. Tuscan white beans and spinach served over whole wheat pasta shells. Fresh veggies and fruit. The kids also had a little garlic bread with theirs.
I overheard someone last night say that their "picky" child only ate cheese pizza with no sauce. It just makes me cringe to hear that. And so many people ask me how I get the kids at my house to eat such healthful foods.
There are two things you need to do to get your kids to eat healthful foods:
#1. Make sure your kids are hungry, and
#2. Feed them good, healthful food.
It really IS that easy. Kids who sit around in front of the TV or computer all day are not working up an appetite. Kids playing video games all day are not working up an appetite. I took my child care kids out for a long walk this morning and then they played in the yard. By the time lunch came along, they were hungry.
I know it's different in a child care setting than in your own home. I understand that kids behave differently for me than for their parents. That's just the way life goes. But I highly recommend thinking of your home like a child care. Set it up on a daily schedule of activities and meal/snack times. Routine is so important for kids (and many adults).
My kids eat about every three hours. I offer a healthful breakfast when the kids get up. If they don't eat it, then they wait until snack time. I offer a healthful snack. If they don't eat it, then they wait until lunch time. I offer a healthful lunch. If they don't eat it, then they wait until snack. I offer a healthful snack. If they don't eat it, then they wait for supper..... Do you see the pattern? They don't pick and nibble all day in-between meals. They eat at appropriate times of day.
Now, I'm not totally crazy. If I feel like the kids have done a good job of eating balanced and healthful foods during the day (or for a couple days), then I offer a special treat--maybe a chocolate chip muffin or a rice crispie bar or some other sweet snack. But that is not an every day event.
Kids WILL eat good, healthful foods. They WILL NOT starve themselves. They WILL whine and cry and throw a fit. For a day or two. But if you stick to it, they will eventually eat and try new foods. And it will be even easier if you involve the kids and let them choose healthful options and help to cook and prepare them. Make it an adventure to choose something new and exciting. And just DON'T give in to the cheese and crackers or nothing but peanut butter sandwiches. They will not starve themselves. They won't. Set a good example by eating healthful foods yourself. You are strong and you are the parent who is in charge of raising strong, healthful, responsible offspring. You can do it!