If you have never bribed a child with money or a new toy in order to get them to eat one measly little pea, you may not fully grasp what it is like to have a picky eater. As a parent, we all want our children to eat healthy. Some of us have amazing children who will try every brussels sprout and piece of broccoli placed in front of them; some of us desire our kids to eat healthy, but end up feeding them quick, easy childhood favorites, that really don’t have much nutritional value; and some of us have the child from another dimension, that will not eat anything that comes from earth.
Simple idea: Get the kids involved in their food
I fall more on that last option. As a holistic health coach, I know the necessity of eating a healthy, balanced diet, packed full of fresh and clean foods from earth. I understand food that is processed and packaged is lacking vital nutrients, can be full of artificial colors and flavoring and ultimately affects the health of our children’s generation in a negative way. So, of course, as a healthy food advocate, I was blessed with a child who refuses to eat anything labeled as a vegetable. But I accept the challenge, and consider it a blessing, so that I may find ways to help other moms with picky eaters!
So, it is my four year old son that I am speaking of, that is packaged up as an adorable, funny & free spirited soul, who cries, screams, argues and refuses any sort of appalling suggestion of eating a vegetable. I have literally agreed to rush off to Target and purchase him a new toy in order for him to take one bite of a cherry tomato! I am shocked at my desperation sometimes when it comes to getting this boy to eat healthy, but this is my reality as a mom.
So what has worked for me, that I am hoping will help bring comfort, hope and healthy eaters into your home is this…
1. Make it fun:
I have found that when the kids are involved in the cooking, they are more likely to try what they have made. So allow them to stir, pour, spiral, and peel. One of my favorite cookbooks for little chefs is The Forest Feast for Kids. The Zucchini and Carrot Ribbon Pasta on page 54, is a family favorite in our home! Even picky eaters can’t resist at least trying carrots and zucchini that they have spiraled themselves. **Remember that the kitchen can be a dangerous place for little hands. Always supervise your children cooking in the kitchen and only allow them help with safe and easy tasks.
2. Learn and grow together:
My children love being outside in the garden. Teaching them how to grow their own food and teaching them why we do it has been eye opening for my 8 year old.
When children get to experience planting seeds and watching them grow, then picking the vegetables they grew, it makes them all the more tasty and exciting to try. It is one thing to tell your children to eat their veggies, it is another thing for them to be involved in planting the seeds, watching the seeds grow and then harvesting their hard work. When Lucas was two and three years old, we loved watching him pick carrots out of the ground and eat them right there, with the dirt still on it. There is no better immune boost than that!
If you don’t have the space or time for an outdoor garden, even planting some herbs that sit on your window sill can be a teaching lesson on growing your own food and choosing to eat healthy. I teach my kids about the food industry and how we need to protect ourselves from harmful chemicals in our foods. I also teach them about the vitamins and health benefits in the foods that they are eating, so they start understanding how important it is to eat a variety of foods.
Another way to help your kids learn about and grow food is to connect with a local farmer in your area. Ask about farm visits and opportunities for kids to volunteer helping around the farm. Planting seeds, pulling weeds and harvesting crops can be mentally, physically and spiritually healing for all ages. Before visiting a farm, research the farming practices and make sure they align with organic practices and humanely raise their farm animals.
3. Fake them until you break them:
Desperate times call for desperate measures, so sometimes we need to sneak in some healthy foods until our kids grow out of their picky stage. One of my favorite cookbooks for ideas is Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. There are great ideas on pureeing vegetables that can then be added to childhood favorite foods. They will have no idea, and you will feel like a super mom! In my experience, carrots and sweet potatoes are the easiest to puree and hide in foods because, for one, they are not green; and two, they are sweet, so the kids love the taste.
4. This too shall pass:
It is tough being a parent! Not a day passes that I don’t worry about my kids, wish I could take back an overreaction or doubt my abilities to raise up my monsters into respectable humans; so there are just some battles that are not worth having- and finishing their plate of veggies is sometimes one of them. I do my best… attempt to get them to try new things, hide as many healthy foods as I can and then I forget the rest. In my opinion, creating joy, comfort and love around food is far more important than arguing, stressing and forcing. So do your best, and forget the rest! If I feel that my kids are not eating an adequate amount of vegetables, I supplement their diet with vitamins and minerals. My favorite brand to supplement with is Mary Ruth’s Organics. There are liquid vitamins, liquid probiotics, liquid minerals and other individual vitamins like C, D3 and Omega 3 & 6.
You got this mama!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi! I am Brooke Freeman from Natural Freedom Farm. I am a wife, mother of two and I am passionate about learning and teaching people how to live their healthiest life.
I graduated from IIN as a Integrative Nutritional Health Coach, and I am currently going through a program to specialize in Hormone Health. My passion is teaching children and adolescents about health & wellness, and I want to be a part of breaking the cycle of childhood obesity, diabetes and other chronic diseases due to the broken food industry, causing poor nutrition in our society.
My husband Mike and I have started a Non-Profit organization called Natural Freedom Farm where we teach children and teens how to take control of their health through education, gardening and being in nature.
Alongside education and hands on learning, we allow those we are mentoring access to organic produce that is grown on our land. We believe that planting the seeds of health and wellness into our children can change this generation and future generations to come.