One of my biggest concerns as a mother is keeping my children healthy. Although my kids eat a variety of foods we do often struggle with pickiness. As a doctor I have a deep understanding of nutrition guidelines and I think it is important to set a good example for my children when it comes to mealtimes and health.
Here are my ‘mommydoc’ secrets to keeping my kids healthy and happy – perfect for picky eaters!
- Choose My Plate has great references that outlines just how much food a child needs in one day. I try to monitor nutrition over the course of a week instead of just focusing on each individual day and find that sticking to this general guideline helps tremendously.
- Setting expectations. I do not have a clean plate rule in my house because I know that some days our appetites are just not great.I do ask that my kids try three bites of everything I offer on their plates and will re-introduce foods multiple times (as many as 10) to make sure that they really don’t like something.
- Meal planning has become a saving grace in my house as it gives us all a schedule for the week so I’m not scrambling last minute to get dinner on the table after a busy day at work. I let my oldest daughter help plan the menu and encourage her to help me pick out healthy options that she will enjoy eating. When time permits she also helps out with some of the food prep which is a fun way for us to spend time together!
- I will admit that I do try to pack lots of vegetables into foods that my kids like. For example, I add mixed vegetables to fried rice or spinach to a pasta sauce. However, I don’t have time to decorate their plates with fun shapes! I have been known to throw a smoothie together to give the kids a nutritional boost. Full fat yogurt blended with some frozen fruit and greens makes a great combo.
- One of our favorite family activities in the summertime is gardening. We have a small raised bed garden in the backyard and the kids help me take care of the vegetables. We clean up the area and plan in the Spring and then enjoy fresh veggies all summer long. Our favorites are tomatoes and kale.
- Bribery. I don’t resort to this very often as I would prefer that my children develop great food habits all on their own, but I have been known to reward my children for trying new foods. Non-Surgical Nose Job.
What do you do to keep your picky eaters healthy and happy at mealtime?