*Healthy Mama is a series focusing on healthy eating and ideas for women, men and children. (While we may direct many comments toward mothers, we believe these tips and ideas are universal to all!) We will explore different diets, popular trends, ways and reasons to encourage children to eat better, AND provide exciting options for all you hot mamas too.
This subject has been on my mind the past few months, for a few many reasons, and I want to maybe provoke some encouraging thoughts to you...about this subject also.
Now, I want to preface this with the fact that I did receive my bachelor's degree in children and family development. I have worked for several (about 12) years with children who have autism, children who have disabilities, mentally handicapped teenagers and adults who have the mental capacity of a child, I have worked and lived at a family support center where I cared for and fed children from neglected and abusive homes, and lastly- my own three children. ALL these children I have spent years serving and ALL of the time I spent with them included feeding them.
Which is my topic. Feeding our children. I'm not going to talk about processed food vs organic. No. This is not that kind of debate.
When I was thirteen my body went through the ringer. I mean... like intense hardcore chemo for 3 years, medications that did who knows what to me, shots, blood draws, exhaustion, you name it, I was almost dead according to the specialist docs. I can't help that know my body was prepared for this long-term endurance race by my mom. For 13 years she cooked and served her children healthy meals, taught us to eat healthy and exercise. I had vitamins, proteins, calcium...all the necessary nutrients organically stored in my muscles, organs, and bones to allow my body to fight off this disease. NOW, if you could see into the future and see that your 13 year old would get lupus, or cancer, or your 35 year old daughter would get breast cancer and knowing that because of her healthy body she might stand a chance to beat it, would that change your outlook now on feeding your children?
Let me ask you- If your 2 year old thew a tantrum about learning to share would you throw your hands up in the air and allow him to never share a toy again, or at least "until he was older"
How about when your 4 year old decided he doesn't want to learn his ABC's or attend kindergarten? Do you throw your hands in the air and allow him to make his choice and never attend school, or learn to read. If you are religious and your child doesn't want to go to church do you let him stay home at the young age of whatever to decide to become an atheist? If you're athletic and your child doesn't score a goal in the first game do you allow him/her to quit?
NO?! and why not? Because they don't know better. We sit down and lovingly, caringly teach our children how to be kind, how to tell their colors and their shapes apart, and encourage them to not give up. We spend HOURS and HOURS tutoring them in reading, writing and arithmetic. We go out in the back yard and throw the baseball around, or kick the soccer ball. We read scripture devotionals and say meal prayers despite their lack of understanding in faith. We do all this to make our children become beautiful, smart, courageous people. YET, why do we not do this with food. Are YOU teaching your child to eat and appreciate food like you are teaching them in other areas?
It is all a matter of priorities. Eating healthy was a big priority in our (Aubrey's and mine) house growing up. I have quoted my mother several times on this blog- her philosophy is that you have to constantly teach children to eat. From the time they are born till..... whenever. They need encouragement, they need to understand why, and they need love. Teaching them to eat doesn't mean a hostile dinner enviorment force feeding broccoli down their throat.
However, if you only ever show them chicken nuggets, quesadillas and mac n cheese, what are you teaching them then.
We hope in this healthy mama series to help suggest healthy ideas and teaching technics.
1. It does actually matter what they eat from the time they are babies. You introduce all these fruits and veggies slowly, when they are months old, only to take them away because they decide they don't want them when they are 18 months? If a child never sees a tomato and one day it lands on their plate it will be scary. Feed them what you are eating. Familiar foods won't be scary.
2. Hungry children WILL eat. (I mean hungry, not when they have been drinking milk/juice and crackers all afternoon)
You all know the "crying it out" sleep training. That the first night they might cry for 5 hours, but then the next night its only 1 hour, then the next night its 15 minutes, and then they are cured forever. If you already have a 3 year old who is "picky" than you have some bad habits to break. First, don't let them snack or drink AT ALL. If they have been playing hard water is ok. But still- a lot of water can make a belly feel full- therefore ruining an appetite. It will be hard the first week, maybe two (how stubborn are your children?) They will be able to go without lunch....but then without snacks will they really be able to go without dinner?
3. Healthy and fresh does taste good. What tastes better? Canned carrots or fresh steamed carrots with a little butter and salt? Canned potatoes or fresh potatoes? Frozen spinach or fresh spinach? AND, it's really pretty cheap. Serve fresh food with some seasonings and your kids will develop a taste for them and learn to appreciate good food. I have found they come to choose the fresh homemade meals over the processed box meals. (homemade does not mean complicated, long dinner preparations and cooking).
LASTLY, I just want to say. I am guilty! of doing all this and having to go through my own learning process. Of figuring out how to get my family to eat healthy, how I can cook for my family. I have a picky child would love to sneak bananas and fishy crackers and milk all afternoon and then throw the biggest fit about eating his dinner. I'm not speaking from inexperience or lack of education. I've learned about their little bodies and hormones and I've delt with pickiness on many levels, as mentioned in the beginning. All I can say is it is all so worth it!
We hope that you have decided to set some new goals for yourself and family, and come back ready for more exciting Healthy Mama articles. We will have guest bloggers and experts share their expertise also! And PLEASE share yours. don't be afraid to comment. We really admire our readers, and are so appreciated for your support.