Making Nutrition a Priority :: Six Easy Tips to Keep Kids Thriving

Making Nutrition a Priority:: Six Easy Tips to Keep Kids Thriving | Houston Moms Blog

March is National Nutrition Month, and as mothers, we can all relate to the ongoing mission {or saga} of trying to insert healthy food into the mouths of our kids. This can be particularly challenging in our current society, where we are constantly on-the-go and often rely heavily on snacks {read :: processed foods} to satiate our littles as we run from one place to the next. We all know deep down that these foods aren’t actually nourishing our children, and we feel guilty for a split second about that. But let’s be honest…we don’t always have the time to wash and chop up a bunch of fruits and veggies, AND keep them cold, AND stored in a place that is always within reach inside of our minivans and SUVs. And even when we do go to the effort to make that happen, our kids might very well veto that food and choose to be hungry, or worse, have a full-on fit until you find them something else that satisfies their tastebuds {read :: usually something sugary}.

These scenarios play out all the time, and when it comes to “picking our battles,” I believe the kids tend to win when it comes to food. All too often, we throw our hands up in the air and surrender because it’s less exhausting, and we don’t want to argue about one more thing. But this is where it might be time to re-think our battles, and re-prioritize the issues we believe will have lasting effects on our children. Food, no doubt, is the very essence of what keeps us alive. Our habits concerning food begin from the moment we are born, and stay with us throughout our lives. The way we think and feel about food is a very powerful aspect of our psychological health, and if we truly want the best for our children, and we want them above all else, to remain healthy and happy, nutrition and food is most definitely key in making that possible.

About three years ago, I went through my own food transformation. I wanted to take some “baby weight” off, and my sister-in-law suggested I try doing The Whole 30. If you don’t know what this is, it’s basically a 30-day challenge of eliminating all inflammatory, processed foods from your diet. The goal of the program is not to lose weight, but to undergo a science experiment with your body. When you take away several processed foods, you are able to evaluate how your body feels…and oftentimes, it’s much better. As a bonus, you will most likely drop some pounds in the process. After reading through the entire book {all the information you need can be accessed for free online}, I felt like I finally understood food and nutrition in an entirely new light.

For the past three years, I have continued to apply what I learned about my body and how it reacts to certain foods; I am now working much harder to avoid some things and adding in some of the better options. And because I have seen and felt a dramatic difference,  I have also made an effort to translate some of the more important aspects of my new definition of nutrition for my family. Many moms have picky eaters {I could write an entire blog post about how picky my daughter is!} and because of that, improving nutrition for our kids can be quite the challenge. Here are the top 6 tips I have been working on to keep nutrition a priority in my children’s lives ::

  1. Talk about food as your child’s advocate and friend. You can develop the statements based off of their understanding level. For my three-year-old, I tell her things like, “Those blueberries are going to help you grow big and strong.” or, “Broccoli keeps you healthy so you don’t get sick.” I have found that when I talk about how much the food is helping them, they are more intrinsically motivated to eat that food.
  2. Stay persistent with offering healthier foods. There was a time when my daughter vetoed almost every single food that existed, and we were on a heavy rotation of the same four items. It drove me absolutely CRAZY! Every so often, I would put something different on her plate. Sometimes she would just look at it in disgust and not touch it. But then, there were the “blue moons” where she would pick it up and try it. Sometimes I couldn’t believe my eyes! Once I saw that she would sometimes give in and realize the food actually tasted good, I continued to re-introduce things she had previously vetoed at a very slow and sporadic rate. I am happy to report that due to this persistence, she is eating most fruits, several vegetables, and all different kinds of protein. Whew! So exhausting, but worth it!
  3. It’s OK to give them “kid food” when you believe your meal might be too spicy or bold. Let’s face it :: our kids won’t always eat what we want to eat for dinner. What’s most important to me is getting food in their bellies that represents a balance of protein, veggie, carb and fruit. My trick is trying to keep some sort of resemblance with the protein we’re eating. So if we are eating baked fish one night, I will pop some panko or brown rice breaded fish nuggets in the toaster oven so they feel like they are eating something similar to us. It might seem like a pain to make one more thing on top of what you’re already making, but it’s pretty easy to find similar pre-cooked foods that just need to be heated up.
  4. Find some food hacks that boost the food they already like. I am loving some of the changes I’m seeing in the products that are offered in the grocery stores these days. There are so many items that are now offered with much more protein. For example, I like to make pancakes on the weekends, and instead of buying the regular buttermilk batter, I have opted for this one, which contains 15 grams of protein per serving. You can also buy frozen pancakes such as this one if you want to make your life a little easier. I also tend to swap out regular flour-enriched pasta for pasta made with brown rice and/or quinoa. We like this one a lot and my kids have no idea how much more protein is going into their body!
  5. Give them a high quality daily vitamin {or gummy}.  No  matter how much we prioritize our kid’s nutrition, there will be days that we fall short for any number of reasons. I have always felt relieved knowing that when I can’t get the right foods, or enough of the right foods in my kid’s mouths one day, at least I know they are supplementing with a good vitamin that provides everything they need for the day to stay healthy and continue growing. When my daughter {mentioned above} was hardly eating, her pediatrician suggested this awesome liquid multivitamin. For gummies, we like these. If you can afford it in your budget, I highly recommend giving them a probiotic every day too. We like these.
  6. Everything in Moderation. My kids still eat the processed snacks and the sugary treats. To me, that’s part of being a kid! I want them to enjoy being little, and know that it’s OK to eat some of the non-nutritious stuff too…but I teach them that those things are treats. They don’t get it whenever they want it. I limit the sugary desserts to about once per day, usually after dinner. I still stash the conveniently packaged goldfish bags and rice krispie treats in my purse for when we are out and about. And if I start to feel slightly guilty about handing them something that doesn’t do much for them health-wise, I just remind myself that it’s all about balance. I know that they will sit down to a meal later with at least one veggie on a plate, and one fruit will be eaten before they are offered dessert. And then, I let it go.

We are all doing our best, and food is just one more component of the all-encompassing task of keeping these little humans alive and thriving. If we are a little more conscientious about what we are buying, how often we are offering it, and finding little hacks here and there to help us out, I would say we are on the right path to keeping nutrition in the forefront of our family’s lives.

Making Nutrition a Priority:: Six Easy Tips to Keep Kids Thriving | Houston Moms Blog

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  1. Thank you for this post! I absolutely agree. I have a 2.5 year old toddler and I feel so guilty for giving in at times and making the habitual dinners I know she will eat. Although, I have been persistently adding healthy alternatives, (essentially mincing the veggies into the foods she prefers). It’s nice to be reassured that eventually breakthroughs are made with our little ones! The smallest successes are huge mom wins! Great article!


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