This week, let’s talk about what to do when you are the mommy. Feeding kids can be a huge fight if you allow it to become a contest of the wills. I try, as much as is possible, to avoid the food battle. Instead, I stack the deck in my favor by making the quality foods convenient and the poor choices inconvenient.
Want to keep snacks convenient so they’ll always have something decent to eat? Cook in bulk and freeze the extra snacks. Focus on snacks that have fat in them. I particularly like the chocolate chia fudge, peanut butter bean fudge, nut butter cups and peppermint patties for a mid-afternoon snack to help keep their pre-dinner munchies away.
Have the snacks you approve of for the kids on a low shelf, drawer or in a pull-out basket so they can help themselves. For refrigerated snacks, put them in a stackable basket on the bottom shelf. I found this tactic was the biggest winner as they’d quickly forget about the junk and wouldn’t ask for something sugary unless they were having a blood sugar crash from not enough fat in their diet and they needed a quick fix.
If your husband gets the munchies after dinner, is it possible to arrange to get the kids in bed before he’d normally break out his snacks or ask him to wait until they’re in bed? Shifting my kid’s bedtime won the war on keeping them from wanting the junk he was eating. And the bonus was that they woke up earlier every morning and got to see him before he left for work.
If a picky child was struggling with attitude or blood sugar from not enough fat or from being overly hungry, pull out a fatty dip like ranch dressing with some good veggies to help them until the meal is ready.
Introduce new foods when they’re good and hungry. Bundle them up, hand them a carrot, hat and scarf and send them out to make a snowman. Go out to take a pic of their handiwork then bring them in to warm up with some hot chocolate and to peck at a new food or a healthy snack. Don’t be afraid to run them around the yard in the summer, either. Exercise will increase their appetite.
When introducing a new food, a good tactic is to mix it into a food they are familiar with in order to help them adjust to the flavor. I introduced lentils using this method- a good recipe to try it with is sloppy joes.
Another tactic I discovered was that trying a new recipe or introducing a new food, allow the most adventurous person in my family try it before the others. In my case, my son is generally more accepting of new foods before my daughter or husband. So I’d always get his hearty ‘It’s good!’ endorsement by getting him to taste test a meal before serving it to anyone else. If your husband is more likely to try things, work it in advance and get his help to convince the kids of the worthiness of a new food or recipe.
The Family Table
More than any other tactic I use, the family table has the most success in getting children to eat well. Sitting together at the dinner table for a meal will, with the right parental attitude, encourage the children to eat better than anything else. We consistently eat dinner together as a minimum. Showing a good attitude towards my own plate plus mindful conversation helps them get their food down.
In Your Absence
If you have to be gone during a meal, have a pre-cooked meal in the fridge, front and center, ready to be heated up. If your husband is the type would would rather starve than heat up his own food or, worse yet, load everyone up in the car for a fast food run no matter how convenient you try to make it, then prepare a meal that can be eaten cold. Leave it on the counter and make sure the kids know it’s there and begin eating before you leave the house. Their bellies being half-full makes it less likely they’ll try to get hubby talked into a run for the border or romp at a playplace.
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Good advice! I totally agree that having the kids play outside stimulates their appetites, which in turn, makes them more ready to eat what’s prepared.
Great post. I am pretty good about keeping healthy snacks ready to go but I could do better. Thanks for the encouragement. I need to try a few of those recipes 🙂