Saturday, May 16, 2015

Real Solutions for Picky Eaters - Part 3

Finding that happy balance between the kids having snacks they want or love and mom feeling good about what she's serving can be like walking a tight rope. My kids' idea of a snack and my idea of a snack are sometimes farther apart than I would like to admit. I'd love to gloat and say that my kids come home from school asking for carrots and broccoli, but they don't. They generally want something sweet. Or something that is essentially all carbs. We have to meet in the middle in order to have some sanity in our house.

Last week I shared how we implemented our Healthy Fridge Snack Box and it was a huge hit!

There are so many reasons why this was the perfect move for us and we plan to keep it going. To be honest, the "snack box" really became a "snack drawer". I had to empty one of our produce drawers in the fridge to accommodate all the healthy snacks. Anyway, the kids emptied the drawer in a matter of a few days. Well, I couldn't get to the store right away to replenish everything, which means the kids had a lot of repeats of things that are easy like bananas and clementines and organic baby carrots, things we always have on hand.. Finally, I made time to go to Costco. But not before having the kids help me create the grocery list. We have found that to be very helpful in getting them to eat a variety of foods. 

Our kids know then that there is something coming home from the store that they chose. I think kids are no different than adults and like to have some feeling of control. This gives them some sense of control. Everyone gets a say in what we put in the shopping cart!

The kids specifically wanted more blueberries and more strawberries! That makes this mama very happy to oblige. Owen piped up that he wanted celery so we could make ants on a log. Easy. Done. We talked about getting green versus red apples and I said I wanted to get the organic prepackaged apples again because apples are at the top of the Dirty Dozen list, it saves me time not having to slice them and they don't turn brown. This is what we came home with from that Costco trip:

I love how many more organic items I am finding at Costco! Plus, they have made it so much easier to spot organic items by using green price labels on the warehouse shelves.
About half of what I bought this trip was organic! It makes snacking that much healthier. I've been talking to the kids about why we've been switching to organic, how it helps to reduce our chemical exposure so they can grow up healthy. When I teach my kids about their food, it seems to make a difference in their becoming conscientious about their choices. I will also teach them about blueberries being high in antioxidants, getting enough vitamin C and vitamin D to keep colds at bay and keeping a strong immune system overall with eating (or drinking!) our greens. I use the educate approach because when kids understand "WHY" we are diligent about eating our fruits and vegetables, they have a greater tendency to hop on board with picking the foods that they know these fun facts about.

Several days a week I work and don't get home until well past the time school lets out. On those days my husband, who works from home, picks the kids up from school and gets them started on their homework and oversees after school snack. While I want to be sure they are eating healthy, my husband doesn't necessarily like me to give too much direction in my absence.... so creating this Healthy Fridge Snack Box has been a great solution for us as parents in several ways.

I spent about an hour preparing the fruits and veggies for the next several days. That means washing them in a vinegar wash to remove any residue left behind, getting items into single serving containers and putting everything away to both optimize the space and still see what choices are available.

When we restocked this week, we had some duplicates from last week, but lots of new things to keep a sense of variety. This also helps the kids remember another important tip.... Eat A Rainbow! Rather than being particular about which foods they eat, I try to make the entire rainbow of fruits and vegetables available.

I find that when there's lots of color on the plate, I automatically am excited about what I'm about to eat.... and kids are no different. There's all kinds of ways you can serve up a rainbow and I love pinning anything the reminds me to put color on the plate.

When I get started preparing everything I make sure I have a bunch of clean individual size containers clean and ready to go.

Organic carrots and broccoli veggie packs are perfect for lunch boxes! To be honest, I don't know that I could get my kids to snack on broccoli.

The kids promised they would eat those veggie packs since I bought this organic ranch dip... oh my gosh, it is so good!

No one is being set up for success when parents have the "It's my way or the highway" mentality when it comes to their kids' food choices. Ultimately, our job is to provide the right balance of nutrition and the child gets to choose what they eat from those options. 

By providing a large selection of healthy snacks that are ready to go I've seen my kids reaching for more wholesome, nutrient dense foods instead of their typical snacks. I have just a couple of their favorites on hand and resisted buying more of the junk food at Costco since we're really committed to this goal of healthy eating, and the kids have really not been asking me "Where's the (fill in the blank with their favorite junk food)?" 

Cherries! The kids would finish the whole Costco package in one sitting if we let them. They didn't ask for cherries, but I knew putting them in the cart would be a hit. They did ask for grapes, so I grabbed those too, but I sure wish Costco had organic grapes since they rank on the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list.


The kids specifically wanted applesauce in the drawer so I made a special stop to buy this and was impressed I could buy organic applesauce and put it into reusable containers for pretty much what I would pay for the prepackaged indv. disposable cups that have extra sugar. 

Attending the Children's Physicians Medical Group picky eaters discussion was beyond valuable even for just the idea that Jaimi at The Stay-at-Home-Mom Survival Guide brought up.... having a healthy snack box in the fridge. Going off of that one idea has helped us in so many ways! I hope some of the other pointers above will provide you with real solutions to help your picky eater. I know these have helped us! What are your tips on helping your picky eater expand their palate? I'd love to hear in the comments below as I am looking to share more ideas in the next post in this series.

Did you miss part one? Read it here.

Did you miss part two? Read it here.