Let's eat Healthy!

Setting the Mood for food…

Setting the mood for dinner is hard. It has taken us three years to change a food related behavior. Kids are in control of what they eat, and they know it. Our relationship with the foods we eat is crucial to our success in life, and the dinner table is the proving ground which puts all strategies of parenthood to the test.

The dinner table is emotional. Our oldest son had an ongoing issue that had him in and out of doctor’s offices. He is fine now, but needless to say one of the most worrying things on our mind during that time was nutrition. Kids need to eat healthy to be healthy right?

All kids, including this one, need to eat more fruits and vegetables. We started there. I’m telling you it has taken 3 years for this kid to consistently eat spinach, and seven years to start liking bananas. There is a whole list of fruits and vegetables we are still working on.

Healthy eating habits basically come down to consistency. Healthy eating is bar none one of the hardest things to change. The whole family has to be on board to some degree, and the parents have to work together. There are many many opportunities to sabotage even the best laid plans, as every dieter knows. Here are some rules we try to live by. After each rule I’ve listed a number on a scale of 1 (worst) to ten (best) on how firm we are on these rules.

  1. Water is the drink of choice (9)

    • The children have their own water bottles, and so do the parents. The children have to be responsible for their water bottles and there is water available at all times.

  2. Eat green with every meal. (5)

    • We try to present at least raw spinach or cut fruit with every meal. While it may be present, the children don’t always eat it. That is OK, but the expectation is set that they at least have to eat some.

  3. Low availability of sugar and processed foods (6)

    • This one is easy to sabotage. The parents want their dark chocolate too! We let everyone have as many pieces as they have decades of life. Dad gets 4! However, one trip to the grocery store can throw everything out of balance because Dad comes home with potato chips or Mom comes home with ice cream.

It is important to note that we try not talk about being fat or skinny with our kids. We don’t want them to become obsessed with that, and they easily do. We try to frame our language around the principles of eating healthy, being strong, and living a long and healthy life. We use real world examples, like one Grandpa who can’t eat sugar anymore because he is close to having diabetes. And another Grandpa who rides his mountain bike two hours a day. Both Grandpa’s have lots of other good and bad habits to share and teach. The children love them both, but that love helps frame the conversation and make the children concerned both for their elders and themselves.

Again, healthy eating is a huge challenge for no-time, no-sleep, crazy parents. This is the one part of children’s lives where they have some control. They will want to use that control! It is not about obedience. It is about setting the tone, getting in for the long haul, and creating a system that works for your family to maintain balance. Next post: Our System.

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