One of my fears when I write this blog is coming off as pretentious. I am not trying to show that my kids are better than others or that I am better than others. What I’m attempting is to show that if I can do it, so can you. Ok, except if there are food allergies or aversions, texture problems or other issues, but for the most of everyone else, I do believe it’s possible. And this is not to say it’s always easy. Sometimes there are struggles, but they needn’t be huge, horrible or drawn out. Learn when to stay your ground and when to be flexible and when to give in.
The other night my middle son came home from friends at dinnertime with food in hand— his dinner “to go”. He was given chicken nuggets, ham, and mac and cheese. My husband said the host offered the kids snap peas but they all declined. When we sat down to eat our dinner he refused to have any, because he’d eaten, so I let him skip it. We’d made salmon, TJ’s Harvest grains (orzo, Israeli couscous, quinoa and baby chick peas), spinach and snow peas.
After dinner the two eldest boys ran out to cub scouts with my husband. Upon their return and while they should have been getting ready for bed, my middle son cried that he was hungry. I offered him what we had for dinner. “No, I want something else.” He repeated a couple of times. “I don’t want that. I want something different.” as he kept pointing at the refrigerator. I was resolute and he acquiesced fairly quickly and said he wanted it all. All of dinner, not just the salmon or just the grains, but all. I actually had no spinach and only a tiny piece of salmon left, but I gave him what I had plus a piece of broccoli left over from last night’s dinner.
Minutes later my youngest son, while finishing his dinner that he’d abandoned when his brothers left the house, shrieked because he thought his brother had taken one of his snow peas. I grabbed a couple off my middle son’s plate and then he cried out, “No! Those are mine!” So back to the fridge for more snow peas…not a bad thing. I thought to myself, “Ok. They’re arguing over snow peas.” Not that I like the arguing or crying for that matter, but my kids like these foods. I know not every child will like every food… I’ve never said that. But I do believe that if you give in to the chicken nugget/mac & cheese rut you’ll be stuck trying for much longer to get them to eat well and especially their veggies. Plus if you offer kids foods they’re more likely to say no. If you give them the vegetables without the option to say no, then they’re more likely to eat them. Getting them to eat well doesn’t need to be fraught with struggles, just need to forge ahead with determination knowing that one day they might just eat the healthier stuff.
Sometimes people think I’m radical by my zealousness in getting kids to eat healthily, but for me I know it’s best for their long term health. I still try to maintain a healthy attitude and not panic over every little thing and I hope I’ve figured out which battle to choose. And believe me, I’m not here trying to preach from high above but right in the trenches with you all.