Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Confession: I struggle with getting my kids to eat a variety of healthy food

Ok so confession time, I struggle with getting my kids to eat "healthy."  I have two little girls (5 and 7) and the youngest in particular is a very picky eater.  My oldest does pretty well, she will eat the healthy balanced meals I give her even if she doesn't LOVE them.  She will eat all her veggies and such so she can have her dessert.  Yep, my kids get dessert after lunch and dinner if they eat all of their healthy meal.  It's a small dessert and it's how we roll.   I will confess that most nights I make an adult dinner and a kid dinner, it's something I am trying to do less of.  But I hate the drama at dinner  especially since I'm usually the one that eats with the kids on my own.  I just want a peaceful dinner and the fit they would throw if they were met with kale and qunioa casserole is not worth it for me.  We have what seems like a small rotation of healthy meals that they like.  I am trying to expand that list.  I am trying to find and make more meals that all of us like. (I should also confess that I am selfish and I want to eat the meals I like, and don't really like the ones that are more family friendly).

My real struggle comes with my youngest who is a very picker eater.  The eat your dinner or you don't get dessert doesn't work with her. She doesn't care about dessert (perhaps a good thing).  She often will not eat dinner.  She doesn't get hungry later, so there is no coming back to eat said abandoned dinner.  She isn't a breakfast lover.  She often doesn't eat her snack at school.  The only meal she does like is lunch.  Her FAV lunch is a whole wheat wrap, with greek yogurt, avocado, and cheese.  Somedays she will pack in two, that are bigger then her.  Recently she has started eating wraps like this for breakfast.  I figure it's better then a bowl of cereal.  I'm trying to listen to her body and what she needs.  Since she doesn't eat a lot I'm trying to make sure what she does eat is full of nutrients.  She isn't big on the fruit and veggies.  So we are trying something new.  I would like to see both my girls eat more fruits and veggies.  My kids are big on charts, so they each made their own chart with the days of the week on them.  On each day they have the numbers 1-5.  The idea is that they need to eat 5 fruits/veggies each day.  They check of each number as they go.  If they get all 5 SUPERSTAR! There really isn't a reward other then the fun of charting it (and trust me they love this stuff) and me cheering them on.  I took Kasey the picky one to Farmboy today and let her pick anything she wanted from the fruits and veggies.  We came home with strawberries, lots of blueberries, mango, banana's, apples, cucumber, peppers, and avocado (yep we are calling this a veggie for her).  It's been two days so far and it's going great.  Now the key is to not lose steam, which I am just as guilty of doing as they are.

What are your favourite kid friendly healthy meals?  Have any tips for picky eaters?  And does anyone else find trying to help your kids eat well freaking exhausting?


  1. Absolutely tricky. I am in same boat - 7 year old does pretty well, 5 year old not so much. But also will stop eating when she's full, including dessert, that kind of thing. I love the charting idea and think i'll try it out. Kid friendly meals: we rotate the following: spaghetti (I load it with veggies, it's not their fave but they'll eat it), chili, homemade chicken noodle soup (we'll usually eat a more interesting soup), lentils and rice, tacos, breakfast for dinner, I have a few casseroles they like. I cook so much more boring than before kids but I really try not to have two dinners if I can avoid it. (although usually we eat a variation - they eat tacos, we eat taco salad. they eat plain pizza, (cheese and olives only please) and we eat fancier pizza...that kind of thing.

    1. Like Maranda said below, to sounds like the "deconstructed" meals work well...tacos made each to their done the same. I think I picked the two dinner thing because in many ways it is easier for me (stay at home mom with only 2 kids more time on my hands) but at the same time I have totally created this problem now. ahhhh...

  2. I love that you took her to pick out her own fruits and veggies, that helps a lot. And avocados totally count! In our house we also count pickles and olives :)

    I think to an extent kids are just pickier than adults, and they come around a little over time. Continuing to expose them to foods helps build acceptance, just keep putting it on their plate and don't make a big deal about eating it. Overall I think the "healthy" part of the equation is more important than the "variety" part.

    Maybe you could have her make a list of meals/foods that she likes, and try to include those more often? I don't make kid meals (no judgement, I just feel like I have enough to do!) but do take suggestions and keep personal taste in mind. We eat a lot of deconstructed meals, a main dish and several sides, so that if a child doesn't like one particular veggie they can eat more of another one. Everyone gets a bite of everything on their plate and then can take more of whatever they want. I make it, I serve it, they control how much they eat. We keep the table drama free, but everyone does have to sit through the meal, even if they're not that hungry, because that's family time. That goes for the adults too :)

    1. Thank-you Maranda I follow you page and all the stuff you post because I learn so much. I even recently tried to get them on Olives because your kids like them so much! they didn't like them, oh well more for me.

  3. Love this post .. we struggle at times as well! Small tricks that have worked for me ... one fruit and veg in lunches everyday. If not eaten, then they have it as an after school snack. If they do not eat it they get it the next day. If more than 2 days go by, they lose a fave snack. My kids are older though, so this may not work for Kasey!

    I put all kinds of veggies in EVERYTHING. Chili, sauces, soups, baking .. if I can get it in, in it goes! Same idea with fruit ... if they have a bowl of oatmeal, in goes raisins or chopped apples, waffled are topped with berries etc ...

    Shopping and getting their thoughts (brilliant you did this with Kasey sweets), they feel more in control and responsible and at their age that is a HUGE THING!

    Letting them pick recipes and help cook them .. this is huge in my home especially for my oldest!

    If it is during the week (we indulge them fri and sat), and they perhaps want something "bad" .. I make them eat something "good" first!

    Disguise Disguise DISGUISE if you need to .. I am not beyond lying or bribery either, but that is how I roll ... WINK!

    Give yourself a break ... they likely eat much better than you think, but remember you are very extreme in your healthy eats and bakings at times (don't be mad at me for saying that, it isn't an insult in the least!) and some of the stuff you eat scares me too ... can you imagine a 5 year old!? BAHAHAH!

    That being said .. personally I think you are doing great .. they are happy active growing girls who are clearly not deficient at all! Love your chart .. if it's working, that's amazing! Just keep in mind how you need to mix it up for them as you do yourself .. if you get bored .. they get bored too! I think you are a great mama .. and there are times in my own life .. non of what I posted above works for me .. that's when I have a bad ass day, throw my hands up, act like the world just ended and order a pizza. Tomorrow is always a new day!


    1. I agree I do eat weird stuff :) which is one of the reasons I make two meals...I would have been pissed if my mom gave me that LOL! Having them help menu plan and choose meals great idea. I too let them have the treats, on the weekend we have pizza or and I get them movie treats. As much as I worry about the healthy I want them to have fun too. For treats not to be obsessed over or be taboo. I think that led to many of my problems.

    2. BANG ON ... it's like walking a tight rope at times huh??? I do think our girls are so much more resilient that we think. You are hyper aware of your history and that makes you stronger in ensuring your girls do not go down the same path. In the mean time, enjoy the sticker charts and pocket other advice for when they get bored of that! YOU ARE DOING GREAT! :)