Healthy Eaters, Healthy Kids!
People are always asking about what we eat over at the Haka House. But even more than that, we get asked what our kids eat.
Before this turns into what sounds like a big bragfest about being an awesome mom, let me be clear on a few things. First of all, raising a kid is freaking exhausting. They are grumpy little turds that are constantly seeking new ways to wear you down and ensure that they get whatever they want. Secondly, parenting is the most gigantic job ever with one million moving parts. You can’t possibly do all of these things well, all the time. And so, do the things well that you naturally do well and turn to your friends and family for thoughts and advice on how to make the other stuff run smoothly.
Feeding my family is what I do well. To me, it’s super easy. Hopefully, I can help you grab on to a few ideas to help you do a little better in that area….. and then you can come get my kid to stop walking across the kitchen counter with a butcher knife. Deal?
How do you raise HEALTHY EATERS?
We’ve followed a couple of basics that have not only helped us to develop his palate, but have also helped us not gain and keep “the baby weight.”
“Kid Foods” don't make the cut when it comes to raising a Healthy Eater!
There is good, healthy food and there is crappy, processed food. Period. Typical “Kid Foods” fall in that second category. Yes even the "organic" stuff. Loading the pantry with healthy, wholesome foods is key to success. The first step in raising a healthy eater is to understand that it makes no sense whatsoever to say “well, little Johnny can eat this but I shouldn’t cause I’m on a diet.” Kids’ nutrient needs aren’t less than yours; they are HIGHER!
Those little boogers expend a shit ton of energy all while trying to grow and learn and do all sorts of bodily processes. Plus, getting them to consume what one would perceive as a full meal is like aiming for a moving target. When the option is healthy or healthy, everyone benefits!
Added Bonus: If you finish your plate and your kid’s plate has leftovers of the exact same thing you just ate, it’s not nearly as tempting to become a human vacuum cleaner. I mean, EVERYONE can squeeze in a few more bites of Mac and Cheese, no matter how full they are, right? Can I get an Amen on that? (That’s how you get fat as a parent, friends)
Introduce foods early and often to raise a Healthy Eater.
For those of you who still have a wee little baby, let me just say that starting them off on the right foot makes this whole process easier. Colt’s first food was bone broth frozen into ice cubes. We put these into mesh sacks and he sucked on them. From there, we added soft egg yolks, avocado, butternut squash, bone marrow and liver. That’s a far cry from rice cereal. We quickly introduced fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kombucha, to develop a palate for sour. And he never snacked on any kind of puff or cereal or melt thing. Now, we offer him the same foods we are eating at meals. When we have a less nutrient dense food (like rice), we lead with the other foods. When he tires of those, we bring out the rice to re-engage him.
Healthy Eaters haven’t learned to recognize packaging (think Kraft Mac and Cheese, GoGurt, Cereal).
This is multi-purpose. First, kids recognize packaging. The marketing companies make sure of that! If they see the food in the pantry, it will be a hard sell to convince them to eat something more wholesome and less processed. If these foods aren’t present, I never have to argue with my kid about what he is going to eat. I literally open the pantry and the refrigerator and ask him what he wants. There is nothing in our house that is ever a “No.” Ever. If all he wants all day is homemade date balls (like THIS ), he can have at it. I’m not going to fight over food. And some days, that is literally all he eats with maybe a few cashews thrown in for some sort of balance. The ONLY things he has to choose from are just fine for him to eat all day, every day.
Healthy Eaters don’t view meal time as a battle.
This last point is a bit off topic but so important. We don’t fight with our kids to sit for long periods at the table. It’s not fun for anyone and it creates an environment where they are ready for a fight from the get- go (especially if nap time sucked). We compromise about where we eat, too. “Colt, do you want to do a picnic on the floor, sit at your table or sit up high at Mommy and Daddy’s Table?” I don’t care where we eat. As a mom, I’ve done a lot more demeaning things than to have a picnic on the floor of the kitchen, for goodness sakes! Basically, if meal time is all about yelling and fighting and force feeding, there’s not a whole lot of incentive for everyone to even want to TRY to maintain this important part of family life. Take a deep breath, and choose wisely.
So what does my little Healthy Eater eat?
This was dinner last night: Spaghetti squash with a meat sauce that contained grass fed ground beef and pork sausage from a local free range pig we recently had slaughtered, sliced beets, three servings of sauerkraut, and a slice of avocado. This was a good day Tonight, we might be back to five date balls and a handful of cashews, but hey, “Ya win some, ya lose some….”