By Amanda Griffin Jacob
How do you get your kids to eat healthy?
Most people know that my children are vegetarian and have been since birth. Usually as soon as they know, I get asked the question, “How do you get your kids to eat healthy?” People tend to equate vegetarianism with being healthy and while it definitely is if done right, it can also be quite the opposite if done wrong, just like most lifestyles. But going back to the age-old query, how do I “make” my children eat healthy food? Well, the simple truth of the matter is that I don’t give them any other option. Since they were born, it has been my utmost priority to continually provide them with nourishing sustenance as well as the knowledge that they need to make those healthy choices themselves as they get older.
Don’t your kids miss meat?
Another question I always get. Um, no, they can’t miss what they’ve never had. My perspective applies to most things in life when it comes to my babies. If you don’t give it to them, then they can’t miss it. My kids don’t really eat junk (unless they’re at parties) because they don’t have access. In my kitchen I have “healthy junk food,” which are baked chips (for their Dad), crispy apple slices, and pretzels. Those are their treats. It’s easy to sneak in the good stuff, I promise. They don’t want the horribly processed, chemical laden junk food that’s out there because they never eat it. As a parent, it is your job to know what is good and bad for your child. Companies make it difficult as they use all the marketing tricks in the book to fool you and lure your kid. But you have the ultimate control on what’s in your pantry, what you’re giving them to eat, and what goes in their mouths. You just need to take the time to educate yourself and become aware of why it is so important to feed your kids nutritious food.
I buy healthy food for the family!
As a general rule, I like to make my kids most of their food. This goes for school, too. Packed lunches all the way! Otherwise you have no clue what they are eating. This goes for “healthy” food, too. If you’re not really cognizant about what ingredients are nutritious and what are not, you could be falling for marketing hype and bluster. There aren’t many stringent regulations in place yet when it comes to food labeling. Companies get really creative when it comes to selling their wares and they repetitively try to fool consumers with creatively worded labeling and campaigns that trick people into thinking unhealthy food is healthy. This is why whole homemade foods always trump store bought. You know exactly what’s in your food.
But my kids hate vegetables!
This is another gem I hear all the time. Guess what, my kids hate vegetables, too, and they’re vegetarian! It’s a kid thing. Usually the color green puts any veggie into enemy territory. If this is the case, puree their greens and hide it in your pasta sauces. It works every time, promise.
The bottom line is that yes it is darn hard to get your kids to eat healthy (yup, even mine!) All I can advise is, don’t give up. Part of parenthood is understanding that it is supposed to be difficult. especially feeding them. I don’t know a single child that makes meal times a breeze. It’s just part of their development to resist. Our responsibility is to persist. One day, they will surprise you and stop fighting you on the veggie front if you just don’t give up.