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Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Food


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I have no fear of any kind of desserts or sweets, but a baby (15 month old in my case) surely has no need whatsoever (nor are outside influences going to impact any 'binge eating', at least for years to come) for desserts, aside from special occasions.  I stick to my point that for kids under 2-3+ years of age who know no better (unless they were brought up with it) do not need desserts (it is only the parents perception, or desire to see their kids 'enjoy' sweets) on any sort of 'regular' basis.

 

Fats I have no issue with, organic avocados are a big part in my sons diet (at least 2-3x per week it is apart of his meals), but useless fats, like cream, fried crap, etc, are totally unnecessary,

 

As cakewalk said - we don't "need" most of what we eat but eating should be also joy and a little bit of ice cream (homemade) or some high quality chocolate (70-80%) isn't defintily nothing I would call "crap". I also disagree that it is the parents perception (or desire) to see kids "enjoy" sweets - we want to see our kid to enjoy any kind of food (savory or sweet) and grow up with a honest/realistic approach towards food (one might also say a more European approach where any kind of high quality food is an important part of life and the time to eat together (and prepare food) is one of the most important parts of the family life).

(My comment about fat was towards your mentioning of butter in the same context as "processed nonsense" which isn't the same or even remotely close)

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I have no fear of any kind of desserts or sweets, but a baby (15 month old in my case) surely has no need whatsoever (nor are outside influences going to impact any 'binge eating', at least for years to come) for desserts, aside from special occasions.  I stick to my point that for kids under 2-3+ years of age who know no better (unless they were brought up with it) do not need desserts (it is only the parents perception, or desire to see their kids 'enjoy' sweets) on any sort of 'regular' basis.

 

Fats I have no issue with, organic avocados are a big part in my sons diet (at least 2-3x per week it is apart of his meals), but useless fats, like cream, fried crap, etc, are totally unnecessary,

"fried crap"

What is that, exactly?

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My dad died when I was 3 years old from a brain embolism caused in part by his diabetes. He liked to drink soda throughout the day, as many as seven cans of soda. By the way, he was 35 when he dropped dead.

As a result, Mom forbade sweets of all kinds while I was growing up. No cake, no candy, no ice cream. Definitely no soda.

Fast forward some years later, in my mid-40s, I'm not a big fan of desserts (although I will eat them if they're in front of me); it's just not something I'm keen on. It's not my favorite part of a meal. I'm not one to buy sweet stuff. Ice cream is something I will treat myself to occasionally, but junk food isn't a known quantity at Casa SobaAddict70 the vast majority of the time.

Is this a scenario that you could see yourself in?

I only mention this because how a parent raises a child has repercussions later in that child's life. While I'm grateful that I developed a sense of healthy eating early on, I would have liked a little bit of moderation, including moderation.

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What has worked quite well for us, is to involve the children in the preparation process, evidently in a fun way. I've come to realize that it doesn't need to be a lot of involvement -- but they take great pride in the salad we prepared together, even if all they did was making the salad spinner do two turns.

The other important thing is not to get uptight about it. Expose your children to good food, with different choices. They will soon develop their own tastes and preferences; some of them healthy and probably some of them less so. Having meals with kids is about fun as well -- both for the adults and for the young ones.

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My wife and I ate what the whole family ate growing up. Our 2 now-grown daughters were raised, at home, on mostly freshly-prepared dinners, made from ingredients - not boxes, which we all ate. They did havew a weak spot for boxed mac and cheese but they only got that every 4-6 months. And yes, they were served home-made mac and cheese also. We ate burgers and fries out. Between my wife, myself and my wonderful mother-in-law they were exposed to many different cuisines at home as well as at various restaurants. I still mourn the closing of Papdakis Taverna in San Pedro. The best Greek food I have had. I have eaten at other good Greek restaurants but none have matched Papakakis. We cherish the soup bowl from there. So knowing how to eat healthily was engendered by example. They are both married now and they also cook from scratch.

 

I choose not to consome very much food with highly refined flours or sugar but I don't completely cut myself off from them. An occasional donut is a treat as is an occasional bowl of ice cream. Sourdough bread, while made from highly refined flour, is much more acidic than "white" bread and as such digests more slowly so every now and then I have a slice of sourdough toast, This level of moderation was also patterned for our children.

 

LocavoreT, I do hope we hear from you again.

 

Edited to add: I just found these words to help explain our approach- we did not have "forbidden fruit" foods. We did discuss nutrition with our daughters as they were growing up so that they understood why some things were not a regular part of our diet.

Edited by Porthos (log)
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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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Good job, Porthos!  It warmed by cold black heart when my son sent me some cell phone pictures he had taken of his freshly prepared pesto pasta dish proudly served on nice china with cloth napkins.  Now that he's scored a nice grill, I'll wait for the summer cook-out pictures.

 

He's found that the ladies dig a guy who can cook, so bonus!

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My colder blacker heart was similarly warmed when my son was happy to get a decent kitchen in his new apartment. His churlish and slovenly former roommates put a damper on his cooking. I wouldn't have cooked in that shithole either.

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Now that he's scored a nice grill

 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who read that as "scored a nice girl"!

 

I don't know how usual or unusual this is, but my parents served us crap most of the time. My mother couldn't cook to save herself and my father probably never went into the kitchen in the whole of their married life - that was women's business. It was back in the 1950s and 'junk food' as we know it today didn't exist in the UK. But my mother, love her, certainly produced her own variety of junk.But we ate it. Pickiness wasn't an option.

 

It came as a great shock to me when I was about 16 and "scored a nice girl" then was invited to dinner by her parents where they served what I thought was the most amazing things I'd ever come across. Food looks good, smells good and tastes good! Who knew? It was life changing. Thanks, Jo (and your long gone parents).

 

It was then that I set out to learn to cook and to know something about nutrition. And I learned what was healthy. 

 

Since then all my siblings except one (big family) have gone into the catering industry in one way or another. We cooked and ate ourselves free. Mum was banned from the kitchen and found out, too that food might be nice, but only if someone else cooks it.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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http://dinnerwithjulie.com/2009/03/10/curried-red-lentil-carrot-and-sweet-potato-soup-with-ginger-and-root-vegetable-cake/

 

The above recipe is from Dinner with Julie and is called Root Vegetable Cake. I'm feeling sorry for all the kids out there whose parents don't let them have any sugar. This is about the healthiest cake I have ever eaten, and it's actually good. Yes, it does have sugar in it, but you can cut back a little on the amount (I did.) If you happen to have a few carrots and a stray beet (I did) it's perfect. I also bought a sweet potato for the occasion. And I happened to have some homemade apple-rhubarb sauce which I used as the applesauce in the recipe. I used a combo of coconut oil, which I thought would have good flavor for this cake, and mostly grape seed oil. I also cut the recipe in half and baked it in one 9-inch cake pan. I threw in some chopped walnuts, but clearly lots of things could be added. Oh, I cut way back on the cinnamon, but that's because I really don't like cinnamon to dominate anything. And I subbed a little buckwheat flour for AP, because I love that flavor.

 

My daughter self-selected the white diet during her 2-6 years; that is she only ate white food: rice, pasta, potatoes, butter, bread, etc. No green or red or orange veggies would dare come near her for fear of her scorn. She grew out of it, and I really think it happened naturally. True, we don't eat a lot of junky foods in our house and we have always cooked and eaten dinner together, but kids' weird ideas about food come from a source we really can't control, ultimately, and the best you can do is be a good model, as some above have suggested.The only thing I learned about the food wars: pick your battles. There is nothing more cringe inducing than watching relatives or strangers or friends having public food fights with their children.

 

And there is nothing simple about restricting certain foods (or non-foods); it will always bite you back. Seeing your kid eat a year's worth of candy after a Halloween score is painful. Seeing them hoard it and let it rot in a drawer and not let you have any of it is just as worrisome. Anyway, try the above cake if you want the satisfaction of knowing your kid is eating a beet. Well, okay, it's still cake, but at least it has some praise-worthy qualities. My husband loved it with creme fraiche and he loved it with ice cream, but it's pretty good served with fresh fruit. 

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My middle son (he of the nice grill) ate nothing but bacon for at least two years with the odd piece of toast between the ages of 14-30 months.

 

Don't sweat the small stuff like Twinkies and other items that strike horror in the hearts of many.

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Pre 4-5 years old, I don't understand why parents would give their kids things like ice cream, chips, chocolate bars, etc (even post that age, to be honest).

 

In terms of introducing new foods, remember, often it is the texture that bothers kids, understanding kids eating habits, likes/dislikes would allow you to introduce flavours (broccoli soup vs. sauteed) as well as the benefits of said food (from a nutritional perspective) and eventually varying the method of preparation.

Because chances are your kids are going to encounter those items "in the wild" and invariably when I was a kid, the kids who made the worst food choices and pigged out on crummy foods like sweets when away from parental supervision (school trips, etc.) were the ones where those foods were banned substances in the home. If those items are not banned but not always available, and you talk about them (what is tasty, what is not, what food scientists do, etc. depending on age of child) then it takes away a lot of the lure of the forbidden.

(For bonus points, introduce your kids to high end sweets young. My mother used to buy me really good quality chocolate - just a single truffle - as an occasional treat and in comparison normal candy never seemed particularly tasty to me. Too sweet, not interesting flavor, unpleasant mouthfeel, etc.)

In general, going by my housemate's kiddo, encouraging the kid to try things but not making a big deal about actually having to finish it if it is on the plate seems to be working. He's had some weird phases (at one point apparently he would only eat round food) but in general he is very open to trying all kinds of new things, and even trying stuff again that he hasn't liked previously, in case the new way of preparation makes it tastier or he is misremembering how it tasted before. I think it helps that in the house we eat a wide variety of food, too. There is also always something he can make as a fall back meal if he really genuinely doesn't like something and can't eat it. (Not anything exciting, though - now that he is 9 the rule is that he has to make it himself if he really doesn't like what is on offer for dinner, which means something like a sandwich. Adequate so he isn't starving overnight, but not anything he'd choose immediately over other food offerings.)

(He does have a sweet tooth, which they manage by limiting dessert to every other day and then primarily having healthier dessert options like frozen fruit bars. We occasionally make cookies or something for fun, but not as a regular thing.)

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...  chances are your kids are going to encounter those items "in the wild" ...  

Yup.

 

A friend just posted a picture of the lunch she is serving her approx 2-year-old child right now. You can tell that the child is enjoying lunch.

m_b_lunch.jpg

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Porthos Potwatcher
The Once and Future Cook

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I think eating foods that are in season makes a difference, too.  I used to take the kids berry picking at one of those U-Pick places.  I always felt like the owners were getting ripped off since the evidence of theft was on the cheeks of my boys.  I'd buy some already picked fruit, too, to make up for it, though.

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I grew up in a household where family meals were always a collaborative affair - as soon as I could be in the kitchen without posing a danger to myself or others (ha! sometimes I still do - but I was about 2 or 3, I think, when I was allowed in) I was allowed to help out with preparation of meals and learn about what it was I was eating.  If I wanted to be picky I could - anything I didn't like the look of I could leave on the edge of the plate, but I had to try everything once to know that I really didn't like it, and wasn't just objecting to it for an irrational reason.  (Eggplant, I'm looking at you!  I loved eggplant if Mom called it Aubergine instead, but had an extreme aversion to it under its English name, probably due to my severe egg allergy.)  I credit this approach for my extreme non-pickyness and spirit of culinary adventure - I'll still try anything once, and if it's icky I'll still just leave it in a polite little pile on the edge of the plate and eat the rest.

 

Mom never ever prohibited anything, but what she did do was this: she set limits.  I could have all the fruit or veggies I wanted to eat, especially if I harvested them myself from the garden but even in the winter no holds were barred: if I wanted celery, I knew where it was.  However, if I wanted chips (not normally available in the house, only on special occasions) or cookies or whatnot I had to ask first and accept whatever limit was put on them for me.  So if I wanted cookies and she said "only one" I'd either take that one cookie, or none because I complained that one wasn't enough.  

 

The reminder was always "you need to eat your taller food, before you eat your wider food" - and since I wanted to be really tall (joke's on me - at 6' I'm a giant in Ecuador) I always made sure to eat the taller food (veggies, mostly, and whole grains, and protein) and lots of it.  Side effect?  No room left for the wider food (sweets, fried stuff, etc.)

 

Oh, and really good dark chocolate was a staple, not a treat.  Beside it, all other candy pales.

Edited by Panaderia Canadiense (log)
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Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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We never ever force the kid, we dont nag  and we dont bribe.   She has been eating the same food as us  ( minus the things  she couldn't eat before one), same smell and same taste as us.  She sees us eating and she  eats it too.  When it comes to veggies she  tries everything on the table but will  only eat peas, broccoli, beans, carrots and corn  .  I am happy with this and the food she is getting  is healthy, home made and we  try to keep candy to Saturdays only.

 

She will however eat tomatoes but only for snack not with food. I also make sure she has fruit at home, right now there is peaches, apples and loquat.

 

And when it comes to ice lollies,  now during the summers, she gets home made ones so I know whats in them , I have a Zuko quick lolly maker, it so great.

Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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(For bonus points, introduce your kids to high end sweets young. My mother used to buy me really good quality chocolate - just a single truffle - as an occasional treat and in comparison normal candy never seemed particularly tasty to me. Too sweet, not interesting flavor, unpleasant mouthfeel, etc.)

 

 

You might regret feeding high quality food when your kid hits puberty and starts eating like crazy though :raz: .

But giving them their own budget to spend on extra's like this might even give them an extra lesson in the financial department as well.

 

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CeeCee that how my parents did and  I still eat cheap candy from time to time. 

Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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An article from the NYTimes that is relevant to this discussion. Namely, that pressure of any sort makes it less likely for children to eat the desired food. Seems the best thing is to put a tiny bit on their plate or serve "family-style" and just wait for them to explore on their own: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/08/business/in-pitching-veggies-to-kids-less-is-more.html?smid=fb-nytimes&WT.z_sma=BU_IPV_20140609&bicmp=AD&bicmlukp=WT.mc_id&bicmst=1388552400000&bicmet=1420088400000&_r=1

Joanna G. Hurley

"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

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I don't have junk food or anythign premade in the house. I don't think my 7 year old ever even set foot into a fast food place, if, it's been years ago. I cook healthy foods and that's what's for dinner, no extra things, eat what's there or don't eat. Nobody ever starved in front of a full plate. Everybody gets the same things on the plate, don't like something? Leave it, but occasionally I insist on an other try (oh, look! Potatoes do taste good all of a sudden!)

 

I make healthy lunches for them, we never once bought any of the crap from the school offerings.

There's very limited access to sweets too. So they can either eat healthy things or nothing. Usually they go for eating. Limited meat (family of 4 we share one steak or two to three chicken breasts etc), vegetable, bread, always a salad.

 

I do not cook things I know they don't like at all or make sure I have more than one thing, my daughter does not like beans, so I'll also have some bread and the salad. My boy was picky for a while, fine don't eat then. Now he eats everything. And my girl is coming around too.

 

Snacks are fruits, nuts, cherry tomatoes, things like that.

 

But if there's no junk in the house they can't eat it.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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My kids get ecologically grown and produce dinners at her daycare and the same goes for the school when she gets older and it paid by taxes.  

I have good chance of avoiding  crap food .

She has been to  Burger King ones, but what do you do when a hail storm hits and it is right when we where trying to get to the good  restaurant and the kid is screaming due to hunger?  She hates fries so it got to be chicken nuggets and fruit and milk.  And   that  the longest i spend in a Burger KIng, 1½ hours waiting for the rain to stop and guess what I can only eat fries , which I dislike  at these places.

 

And yes snacks here are fruit,  nuts and vegs and it is on set times, sometimes it can even be a cold smoothie with yogurt and rare occasions a  sandwich.

 

We eat at set times every day, even the snacks are only offered at snack time.  Well that isnt true, if we are at the  market in town, people tend to let her taste strong cheese, ham, fruit and other foods, because she  smiles and tells how  yummy or yucky things are and she always goes for the strong stuff.  Those days she doesnt want lunch.

 

We do have dessert, most often on only  Sunday but yesterday I was offered ecologically grown strawberries,  first harvest senga sengana for half price because it was a punnet  left and she knows my daughter  so we had strawberries and cream yesterday as dessert. Yum.  

 

So when it comes to feeding a kid healthy, just start serving and eating it your self as if it was normal.   I get my kid to eat most things if I eat it first.

 

Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news, young parents.  My children ate healthy, homecooked meals and fruit snacks with homemade treats on birthdays and holidays.

 

Along came school.  With school came birthday parties at other children's homes.  School, although private, required the kids to bring a packed lunch and trade off bringing snacks.  Other kids had tempting store-bought treats and mozzarella sticks to trade at lunch.  Snacks weren't always apples and oranges but sometimes Oreos and Chips Ahoys.

 

It's wrong to demonize these foods because, as others have said, it makes them forbidden fruit.  An occasional trip to McDonald's never killed anyone.  DQ's Blizzard's are tasty on a hot summer day.  Grandma loves to make pies with a heavy hand on the sugar.

 

They'll live.

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news, young parents.  My children ate healthy, homecooked meals and fruit snacks with homemade treats on birthdays and holidays.

 

Along came school.  With school came birthday parties at other children's homes.  School, although private, required the kids to bring a packed lunch and trade off bringing snacks.  Other kids had tempting store-bought treats and mozzarella sticks to trade at lunch.  Snacks weren't always apples and oranges but sometimes Oreos and Chips Ahoys.

 

It's wrong to demonize these foods because, as others have said, it makes them forbidden fruit.  An occasional trip to McDonald's never killed anyone.  DQ's Blizzard's are tasty on a hot summer day.  Grandma loves to make pies with a heavy hand on the sugar.

 

They'll live.

Yup, that is exactly what happened with my mom. She is a nurse and so was determined to do it right and have no junk food, good nutrition all the time, etc. Then came the birthday parties and class parties and other assorted activities that kids get up to, and those had all sorts of things she couldn't control except by preventing me from going in the first place or making me that weird kid who isn't allowed to eat anything. She decided it was far better to accept that some of those foods were going to be available and I would probably want them (because food science spends a lot of time trying to make those things tasty.) Thus the plan of moderation and making a specific effort to introduce some of those foods in an environment she did control, so we could talk about them, and that sort of thing.

(Plus, if you look at the history of nutrition as a field of science - I am not sure we know as much as we like to think we do about what things are actually properly good for you and what things are not. Stuff that pretty much lacks meaningful nutritional content at all, like a soft drink, okay, fine, likely not supplying any essential nutrients except calories. But the evils of sugar versus honey versus agave and refined grains versus whole grains, and all that other stuff? Eat a variety of foods in a sensible amount for your size and energy levels, and don't sweat the exact details, I figure.)

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