Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Your Kids eat WHAT???

I get a LOT of questions about our eating habits and how in the world we get our children to eat and actually ENJOY healthy eating! So, I thought I would take a quick moment to blog about what we typically eat and how we teach our children to make healthy food selections.

Now that our girls are older (4 yrs, 2 yrs and 8 mos old), it is getting a bit easier to prepare meals that everyone can enjoy!! We spend a lot of time and money on food purchasing and preparation, but it really makes for a healthier lifestyle and easier time knowing what we are going to eat each day. 

We pretty much buy the same things every week and simply rotate the foods in the fridge and pantry. We try to purchase as many whole foods as we can and stay away from processed and pre-packaged foods as possible. We think our kids eat way too much food (and always joke about them eating us out of house and home:), but it really does warm our hearts to hear our kids fighting over the last grapefruit or our 2 year old asking for prunes!! LOL!

First off, we always have exclusively breastfed our children as babies (not one drop of formula). I firmly believe this is an important start in developing a child's taste buds and giving them a propensity for healthy eating. We secondly introduce vegetables and grains first and THEN fruits. I know breast milk is sweet enough, so I mix in breast milk with veggies and grains (real oatmeal, not baby cereal) to thin it out and add flavor. Once our girls are weaned (between 1 and 2 yrs old), we then start them on organic rice milk that is fortified. We researched using soy and decided against it based on the data on the estrogen load and other side effects of American soy products. Also, the kids main drink is water--good, old plain, filtered water--with lemon when we go out:) We rarely give our kids juice since they eat so many whole fruits, they really don't need it.

We also use seasonings in our food that are not high in sodium. Our kids love cinnamon, marjoram, thyme, garlic, onion, etc. We do not use butter as a general rule (if we bake bread, we will put a smart balance spread on it), but use extra virgin olive oil and also organic coconut oil to get healthy fats in our diets. We eat a lot of fish, turkey and chicken and very, very little red meat/beef. Our kids really never eat red meat, but my husband loves it!

OH, and we NEVER eat fast food!! Really, I don't eat it at all(my husband does while working). My girls have never been to McDonald's or had a happy meal. I know some people think they are missing out on some American tradition or something, but I know they have plenty of years of their lives to eat junk. I would rather set them on a path of training their taste buds to crave and enjoy whole foods now and let them eat junk later;). (like I did when I went to college and gained 20 pounds after eating healthily as a child), But, I digress...
As a rule, we always pack a healthy snack bag with us when we leave the house. 1, our kids eat a LOT, lol. 2, I get hungry and want to deter eating out (cost savings and calorie savings) and having healthy snacks just in case we do go out (about once per month) allows us to start the kids on their fruits and veggies before their restaurant meal arrives at the table.

So, here are a few pictures of the meals I prepare for our kids (and myself) throughout the day. Hopefully, they will give you some ideas as to how easy and simple it is to eat healthy foods and inspire you to include some more variety in your meal plans! I only captured a few meals, so it is a small window into the foods we eat, but it will give you an idea of what we typically do for lunch and dinners around here. 

I realized I didn't take any breakfast photos, so I will have to add them when I can! Please feel free to comment and leave ideas for other ways to incorporate healthy foods in your family's meal plans!!
Baked tilapia and brown rice.

 For my husband's birthday,I made him a lunch of some foods cooked Japanese style 
with brown vegetable rice--he loved it!!

 Homemade banana bread.

 My grilled tilapia and zucchini.

This is a staple in our house. Rotiserrie chicken.

We also try to avoid white breads, flour, sugar and pasta and substitute whole wheat when we can. Now, for holidays and birthdays, all bets are off---we splurge and enjoy!! If you have been following us for any time, you know that already:)

Happy eating!


Jenn @ Coolest Family on the Block said...

Aria, I love this and hope that this is how my daughter (and husband and I!) will eat. She's almost 18 months and is going through a phase where she doesn't really want to eat anything :(

I breastfed her until 13 months. She started solid baby food at 6 months (she was never interested in the cereal). Up until 12 months she was a great eater with the jarred organic baby foods. She would eat such a variety, broccoli, zucchini, spinach, peas, green beans, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, potatoes, rice, apples, pears, bananas, apricots, peaches, all berries, prunes, and bunch of stuff I'm sure I'm forgetting. She was eating at least 3-6 Stage 3 sized jars of food a day and breastfeeding.

Around the time I weaned her and started giving her organic soy milk she didn't want the jarred baby food anymore and wanted things she can pick up with her fingers (even though she only had one tooth). We've tried giving her all kinds of things and she'll say "mmm" for the first bite and then not eat anymore. We don't give her any meat (I only eat chicken and turkey myself), but I give her the vegetarian meatballs, sausage, and chicken. Sometimes she'll eat them and other times she won't.

Right now the only thing we can get her to eat on a regular basis is one scrambled egg and bananas. And since we just came back from a vacation where we were living on fast food she now has a taste for french fries and pizza (great!).

I'm sure it's just a phase and I don't worry myself about it, but it's still frustrating.

And now I think I've sufficiently rambled enough for the day.

Elle Belles Bows said...

Wonderful post!

You are a great Mama and hope that you are feeling better.

I also exclusively breast fed Ella until 13 months. We introduced veggies and grains around 7 months and fruit after. She was an amazing eater. However, she started refusing vegetables about 4 months ago. I include them at every meal. I hope that she will soon be eating them again!



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