My kids subscribe to a special diet. I regretfully call it the chicken nuggets and french fries diet.
I feel like we do everything right, but they are at a stage where they want to eat all the world's fake food, and they refuse to eat anything else.
I jest. There are plenty of things they eat besides chicken nuggets and french fries (mostly because I only allow them to eat those once a day, and not even every day).
During this season of their life, I have a few strategies to keep them healthy.
- Feed them L'il Critters Gummy Vites Complete. Allie's favorite line is 2 is 'nough. She knows she's allowed to have 2 gummy bear vitamins per day. They aren't intended to treat or cure any disease, but they add healthy nutrients that they otherwise might not get. The best thing is that they're real gummies - no water or pills are required for them to get a healthy dose of essential nutrients.
- Keep them active. Kids who get lots of exercise get hungrier than kids who lay around. Hungry kids are more likely to eat whatever healthy food you put in front of them.
- Offer lots of low-fat dairy products. My kids love yogurt mixed with fruit, and they love milk and cheese. Go for lower fat options when you can, but dairy is an important part of a healthy diet.
- Start small. My kids love fruit, so I offer them fruit with every meal. It's a move in the right direction.
- Offer healthy food at every meal. In addition to fruit, I offer them a small amount of vegetables at most meals. It might be a few broccoli florets or some carrot sticks, but it's on their plate.
- Forget the power struggles. Some kids won't eat the healthy foods simply because you say they have to. Put the healthy foods on their plates, but don't tell them that they have to eat it. Maybe they'll eat it; maybe they won't eat it. Pretend you don't care one way or the other.
- Lose the junk food. If there are no chicken nuggets to eat, and they are hungry, your kids are going to eat whatever you put in front of them.
- Hide the vegetables.The goal is to get some veggies into their bellies, right? Ultimately, I want them to eat vegetables because they like them, which is why I put a small amount on their plates. However, I am not above hiding veggies to trick them into eating them. Minced onion cooked with ground beef or shredded chicken. Pureed squash mixed with spaghetti sauce or the cheese sauce in mac and cheese. Pureed soups (like this cheesy cauliflower soup.) Brands of juice that include veggies in the fruit juice. I try all sorts of things. The trick is not to put in so much that they notice, but enough that they get a healthy serving.