I am not here to tell you what to do or eat but rather I will share my experiences and impressions as they pertain to my own family. It is my hope that perhaps you will begin to reconsider your own food choices in light of my experiences and lessons learned.
My kids are food magnets, there is just no two ways about it. Whenever my husband or I get a snack or eat outside of normal meal times our three children swoop in around us from wherever they are in the house and what a bite of what we are eating. With three kids one bite quickly becomes a devouring of our plate without even one bite making its way into our mouths. This is typically not an issue at all because I have learned from past mistakes and purposefully choose healthy nutritious snacks for myself. I care deeply about the food my children consume so as a result my own eating habits have improved dramatically from my "pre-kids" days.
Some examples of my mid-morning or early afternoon snacks (the pregnancy has increased my appetite beyond recognition) include:
- vine ripened tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil (when I have it available). Sometimes I drizzle a little EVOO and season with sea salt. Other times tis just a pinch of sea salt. For a serving of grains with my snack I will add whole wheat crackers or WASA bread; they both add a nice crunch to a soft textured snack.
- organic yogurt with fresh fruit pieces (apples oranges, grapes, etc.)
- fresh veggies with cream cheese or hummus
- a light salad with a variety of toppings (I have found my kids are more open to eating a salad if they see me eating one)
- fresh fruit with peanut butter and cheese slices (I make up a big plate of fruit slices, peanut butter, and cheese slices for everyone to share together)
Another challenge when trying to raise healthy eaters is when eating out. The rule in our family is that you must eat the healthy portion of your meal (sandwich, meat serving, etc) before moving onto any less healthier side dish on the plate. At restaurants where they offer side choices for the kids we do not allowed fried food (french fries, etc). If there is more than one unhealthy side choice I simply let my kids know which items they can choose from (salad, fruit, steamed veggies, etc) and and stay strong to my decision. I figure that even if they only eat a few bites of their side dish that is better than eating an entire serving of the less than healthy option they have otherwise been served. Also, just like at home my husband and I prefer to choose rather healthy meal options when eating out. For example, I will request my hamburger wrapped in lettuce rather than having it served on a bun. I will also ask that they exchange the standard french fry side serving with a side salad with dressing on the side.
Am I fanatical about our food choices? Absolutely not! We have our fair share of less than ideal eats in this house. Is it a daily occurrence though? Not at all. The big picture in all of this is that as parents we need to teach our children healthy eating habits. To that end I believe those lessons begin with the food we put in our own mouths. Eating is definitely not a "do as I say, not as I do" lesson. Healthy eating is a life long decision, it doesn't happen overnight and it certainly doesn't come naturally.