“Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. ” Proverbs 22:6 NASB
It’s so easy for us to be selective of our food, but it can be tricky when it comes to our children. Most children like candy, gum, bread, and meat. I’ve seen so many parents give into the “my kids won’t eat vegetables” game. I even fell into once until I realized I have to train my daughter to “like” veggies and fruits. At this point she loves them. I get tickled when I’m cooking and she tries to sneak a raw bell pepper or a palm full of raw cabbage off of my cutting board.
As parents we are charged to care for, guide, direct, love, and encourage our children. God tells us to train them in the right way. Whether they like or not, we have to do what He says….the right way. I’ve often heard my girlfriends become discouraged about incorporating “better” eating in their homes. I can relate. Especially when my husband and I were living in separate cities and I was working fulltime………..at work and being a Mom. So the desparation is one I can identify with totally. One day, on a Thursday I remembered sitting in the drive through thinking, this is our third night eating fast food. I felt convicted for not managing my time and not taking the time out to ensure my daughter had a healthy meal. From that point on I made it my business to make Saturday my dinner day. I would cook about 4 to 5 meals for the week and either refrigerate or freeze them. The crock pot also became a staple. This meant, other things I would normally do on the weekends were cut out. Ensuring we had healthy meals became priority. I enjoyed the time cooking with my daughter and knowing that I was implanting values in her. It also gave us wind down time to eat dinner together at home.
Just in case you are like I was, or can partially identify with my story here are a few things I do in our home to encourage healthy eating with our daughter………(and my husband for that matter, lol)
I buy fresh fruit that’s easy to eat and nibble on and I make it accessbile. Blueberries and grapes are some of our favorites. I wash them, drain them and leave them open on the counter or refrigerator. (A bag of grapes usually only last a day or two at our house.)
When I buy melons, especially watermelon, I cut it up into bit sized pieces and place a bowl on the table at dinner. The color alone makes you want to grab a piece right?
I don’t purchase chips and opt for pop corn (low or no butter). We eat chips, but only on occasion. I pop a bag of popcorn and leave it in a clear zip loc bag on the counter………….they nibble on it all day.
Let your children see your “positive” reaction to new fruits and vegetables. My favorite quote is “OOOh, I loooove asparagus!” Now, I’ll be honest, my daughter is not a fan of asparagus, but at least she tried it. Speaking of asparagus, when I cook it, I either wrap it in turkey bacon or chop it up in chicken sausage as a side dish. YUM!
Refrain from, “if you don’t eat your vegetables, you can’t get dessert.” Just leave it at, if you don’t finish your dinner….and so on. Perception is everything.
I was an obese child growing up and I am not so sure it was due to the “eat everything on your plate” phenomanon. I don’t encourage my daughter to finish her entire plate. I encourage her to eat at least half of it. If she isn’t hungry I don’t force her to eat. Now let me say this, before dinner, there is no snacking to ensure she has created an appetite by dinner time.
This sounds crazy, but yes, I mentally track my daughter’s food intake. I don’t count or write it, I don’t mention it to her, and I don’t tell her “don’t eat this or you will gain weight” but I keep a mental note on the amount of healthy versus junk food she gets in a day. If I notice she’s loaded up on juice too much for the day, then water it is….whether she likes it or not. Sometimes she gets, “Either water or nothing.”
Don’t be afraid to try new things. If they like grilled cheese. Cook it with shredded cheese and slip in a few pieces of shredded carrots. Load up spaghetti with vegetables. Veggie and cheese quesadillas are good too!
Let your children see you follow good eating habits. I promise they will follow. Don’t put too much stress on it. If you are eating a bag of carrots, don’t ask them to have some, just let them see you doing it. Soon, they will follow in your footsteps.
As always, pray about your parenting style and do what works for you. These are just a few of our practices. We eat fried foods, candy, cake, soda, sweets, and more. I don’t want you to think we don’t. But I encourage you to balance, and make unhealthy choices an occasional taste, and not the norm.