By Kristin Cosgrove from Mamacino
When our beautiful babies reach the exciting stage of beginning their real food journeys, we have such wonderful intentions of keeping their diets clean and green. We promise ourselves we will only offer the healthiest foods and spend hours labouring over organic vegetable purees and fresh fruit concoctions.
Time passes and our beautiful babies become toddlers with minds of their own and strong ideas of what they will and won’t eat. Add sleep deprivation, well meaning family members and general busy-ness and before you know it, our children are living on toast, biscuits, pasta and juice.
If this sounds familiar, don’t despair! There is always a pathway to improving what our kids eat. A little commitment, planning and gentle persuasion and you will have your children requesting carrots to snack on in no time.
These ideas work for me and my kids and I hope some of them may work for you too!
1. Cut back on sugar!
It is so easy to cut out white, processed sugar because there are so many healthier alternatives. Honey, maple syrup, dates and rice malt syrup can all be used in moderation to make the occasional sweet treat. My kid’s behaviour improves 100% when they don’t have sugar in their diet!
2. Make a Rainbow on your plate
We all eat with our eyes so preparing food that is colourful will not only provide a whole range of nutrients, it will look enticing too. Sometimes for lunch, I will make my kids a platter with things like crackers, hummus, good quality ham, cherry tomatoes, carrot, cucumber, apple, kiwi and strawberries, and let them choose the things they would like to eat. Giving children the power to choose what they like from a healthy selection when possible empowers them and helps make meal time more fun.
3. Positive encouragement
Or…better known as bribery. We don’t have dessert in our house every night, but if we do, there is no way you are getting any unless you do a good job of your dinner first.
4. Just Keep Trying
It takes something like 20 tries for kids to accept and like a new food so keep trying! Persistence pays off but having said that, if there is a food my kids really don’t like, like say tuna, I don’t force them to eat it…food should be fun!
5. Tough Love
You really can’t expect your kids to eat the lovely, healthy dinner you have prepared if they have been eating biscuits and bananas all afternoon! I don’t let my kids eat snacks after 3pm so I know they will be hungry and ready to eat by dinner time, which is about 5pm.
I also don’t make a stack of different options for each person in my family. This is what is for dinner…you don’t have to eat it, but there is nothing else!
Some Ideas for healthy food for kids:
Scrambled or boiled eggs with toast spread with avocado or hummus
A Green Smoothie with spinach, berries, banana and coconut water
Porridge with grated apple, ground linseeds, almond milk and a drizzle of raw honey
Leftover roast chicken and avocado sandwich on good quality bread
A platter with free range ham, crackers, hummus, chopped raw veggies and fruit
Leftover vegetable soup with some Quinoa or rice stirred through
Grilled Chicken tenders with sweet potato mash and steamed broccoli with a dollop of organic butter
Homemade baked beans with a soft boiled egg and some good quality buttered toast
Spaghetti Bolognaise made with real ingredients – good quality beef mince, tomatoes, veggies and herbs served with spelt pasta, brown rice or over the top of mashed steamed veggies.
Apple sliced and spread with nut butter
Chopped veggies with a dip, like guacamole
Freshly popped organic popcorn
Bliss Balls made with nuts, seeds, cacao and dates
Homemade muffins from real, wholefood ingredients
I hope these ideas help you to keep your kids on the path to healthy eating. We can only do our best on any given day but ultimately, it will be worth it to see our children grow up strong, well and healthy.
How do you encourage your kids to eat healthy? Is it a struggle or do they enjoy it?
Kristin Cosgrove is a whole food baker, blogger, educator and mum of three. She is a real food devotee and owns a small business, Mamacino Homemade, making whole food treats and snacks for those without the time (or inclination) to do so themselves. You can find Kristin at her blog, or on facebook. To see all of Kristin’s articles and recipes, click here.