A couple weeks ago I told you about my first year gluten-free.
Then last week I shared some of the things that David and I eat on a daily basis.
A question I get a lot is: “What do you feed your kids?” So that’s what I’ll talk about today.
And this is where you begin to see that I don’t by any stretch have it all together in the food department. It’s been one thing to make really big changes to my diet, and quite another to ask my kids to do the same.
At first when I sat down to write this post, all I could think of were the negatives of how I’ve failed in this area. But thinking through the details I do see some progress. For our family though, it’s felt very much like a one-step-forward-two-steps back kind of thing.
I’ve tried many different approaches to more healthful eating. I’ve done all of my own baking from scratch (bread,etc). I’ve made a homemade sourdough starter and used it in my baking. I’ve completely eliminated boxed cereal from our home and made the kids’ home-cooked breakfast each morning. I’ve taken Judah completely off dairy after his two asthma attacks.
I’m here to tell you in all honesty that I didn’t stick with any of those plans.
It’s hard, you guys. Food seems to be a constant battle in our house. Judah is a very picky eater and while I don’t think Amelie naturally is, she’s definitely influenced by comments her brother makes (what sibling isn’t??). Let’s just say dinner is not the finest hour in the Gentino household.
All of this to say, I’m still in the learning process. Here are a very few things that do seem to work, more or less, for us right now.
1. Fruit, veggies, or nuts for snacks. The only way this has worked is to literally make it the only option. I stopped buying snack foods for the kids. So if they want a snack, they’ve learned it’s got to be a healthy snack. This has gotten Judah eating fruit when he’d formerly only eat bananas. Neither kid even fights me on this anymore (although we may possibly have the most boring food house of all their friends). I don’t let them have any grains for snacks when we’re at home because they usually get those for breakfast and lunch already.
2. Reduce dairy. I haven’t completely eliminated it, although Judah solely uses almond milk on his cereal now. I did this the same way as above; just stopped buying yogurt, lots of cheese and milk. We do still have cheese from time to time — on tacos, as an occasional accompaniment to lunch, the occasional Sonic milkshake. But not every day.
I don’t make cheesy or milk-based casseroles anymore, and if I do I use a dairy-substitute. And neither child drinks cups of milk anymore. I know you’re thinking, What about calcium? But from my research it’s much better to get calcium from broccoli and leafy greens than from processed dairy, which leads me to my next point:
3. Drink greens in smoothies. We finally bit the bullet and bought a reconditioned Vitamix blender last week. We’ve talked about it for two years now. We tried a used Champion juicer instead. We burned out the motor on our $30 Oster blender from using it so much. So we finally decided: Yes, it’s super expensive. But this is an investment for our health that we are just going to make.
So far, it’s been amazing. I promise you, there’s a big difference. Judah drank two green smoothies for breakfast this morning (with almond milk, chia seeds, frozen strawberries, banana, and cocoa powder to make it a “chocolate smoothie”). David made the kids and their cousins orange sherbet last week for an afternoon snack with two whole oranges, ice, and a little sugar. All four kids devoured it.
Oddly enough we can’t get Amelie into smoothies yet but I think that will change as she keeps tasting our Vitamix concoctions. My current goal is to have the kids eating smoothies and scrambled eggs for week day breakfasts.
You definitely don’t need to buy a Vitamix: Judah would drink smoothies before and lots of my friends’ kids do. But I can see already how it’s going to be much easier to hide healthy stuff in our smoothies and soup now because of the smoother consistency. My friend Tarah sells homemade raw goats’ milk kefir that I used for awhile and I’m going to start buying again. The kids think it’s yogurt in their smoothies and I want them to have the probiotics.
4. Talk about being healthy and strong. We have conversations with our kids about what kinds of foods make them “healthy and strong” and what don’t. It’s okay to eat some foods that don’t make us healthy and strong, but we need to eat more of the foods that do. That’s why we make them eat veggies every night at dinner. That’s why we do smoothies and healthy snacks. It’s neat to see them slowly (okay very slowly) begin using this line of thinking themselves as they taste foods.
So these are just a few tactics we’re using at the moment. One of my biggest fantasies at the moment is leisurely cooking a delicious and healthful dinner with a glass of wine, then sitting and eating it with no complaints. One day, maybe, we’ll get there.
Any advice from your house on getting the kids to eat healthier? I always welcome suggestions!