Some of my happiest days are the ones when I am asked to babysit one of the grandchildren. It does present some challenges, though. Most kids head off to Grandma’s, pretty sure they will be getting all kinds of treats and candy. It doesn’t work like that here at Nana Robin’s place. We do not have cookies, crackers, candy, ice cream, or any other processed foods here at the farm. We eat the food we grow, along with plenty of meats, fruits, cheese, whole milk, and yummy butter! This was such a worry for one of our pretty little ones, that she was always in the kitchen trying to tell me what to cook. Unfortunately, none of her requests were in my repertoire. I think the real reason she wanted to tell me what to cook was because she was afraid the meal might contain things she doesn’t like, and that she might be asked to eat something she wasn’t comfortable with. We came up with a wonderful way to solve this problem. I get the job of choosing what I cook and serve. She gets the job of deciding if she wants to eat it or not. How empowering!
I no longer have her telling me to cook chicken fingers, and she no longer worries she might have to eat something she doesn’t like. I am amazed at how well this works. I try to make sure our meals include healthy options, with a few things I know she will like. She enjoys any type of simple meat, butter, bacon, broccoli, cauliflower, raw carrots, cucumber slices, cheese, and of course, any type of fruit. It really isn’t very hard to piece meals together that incorporate great nutrition and a happy kid.
There are a few other key components. We have three full meals every day. Nothing but water in between. We also have lots of outdoor time in the sun playing hard. This weekend, we collected spring flowers for our dinner bouquet. We foraged for herbs for some bone broth we were cooking (wild garlic, wild onions, nettle, chickweed, wild sorrel along with a whole bunch of cultivated herbs). She got dumped out of the hammock multiple times. She launched herself off the picnic table on a tree swing. She helped rake and smooth out some freshly tilled beds for planting. By the time lunch time came around, we had cauliflower crust pizza and apple slices smeared with peanut butter and whole milk. That lunch disappeared in the blink of an eye.
People often ask me how they can get their kids to eat healthy. Here it is: stop buying “kid foods”. For some, that means stop eating out more than you cook at home, and completely opt out of the “kids menu” mentality. For some, that means stop buying kid food and junk food from the grocery store. You decide the meals, so make them something great, and that doesn’t mean complicated or fancy cooking (have you seen the recipes on this blog?). If your child decides not to eat some of it, no problem. They get to decide that part. Please please do not give a child the decision making ability for what should be included in a nutritious meal, if eating this way is new for them. They will ask for fast food, tater tots, chicken fingers, French fries, and sweets. The adult decides what will be included in a nutritious meal. The child decides what of it he will eat. Then, be sure that by the time meals come around, the child is hungry. This won’t happen if they are offered snacks and sweet drinks constantly. There is a much better chance of a healthy meal being eaten and enjoyed if everyone has a great appetite. Lastly, get outside and play. Sitting in front of a TV or game box is not conducive to a healthy appetite or healthy mind.
I hope these ideas help decrease the food challenges with your children and grands, so you can spend more time having FUN together!
Eat your veggies,