Add to all of these concerns my recent changes in my own fitness, nutrition, and daily diet (i.e., what I eat every day), and I've got a lot to think about. I've been working really hard to cut out processed foods; some of those foods are the only things my kids will eat. As I become more convinced that processed foods are not as good for us, I am less inclined to feed them to my boys; however, I am very conscious of the fact that they need to eat something. Plus, I'm sitting here thinking, what do their little bodies need, nutritionally? First and foremost, I need to be giving them what they need to grow and flourish.
To say all of this is a challenge is an understatement. I am struggling. A goal for me is to become more knowledgeable about children's nutrition and to put that knowledge into practice with my family.
Of course I've talked to the pediatrician about this, but haven't gotten an abundance of information. I probably need a good book or two. It might help to talk to someone who really specializes in this sort of thing.
For now, I'm doing what is easiest: I'm searching the Interwebs.
Here are some links I found that are at least providing some good, preliminary information:
- United States Department of Agriculture Children Nutrition and Health page
- 1400 calorie Meal and Snack plan for toddler (plan A)
- 1400 calorie Meal and Snack plan for toddler (plan B)
- Ohio State University Food for the Toddler Years Fact Sheet
- Healthy Children.Org from the American Academy of Pediatrics
Here are a few things I'm learning or figuring out for myself:
- You've got to be careful not to overthink this stuff, which is something I often do.
- We're already doing a lot of the things that are recommended: we offer the kids a ton of variety, including at least one thing we know they like at each meal; we keep a bowl of fruit on the counter, and they love fresh fruit; we let them pick out produce at the grocery store; we let them help prepare foods in the kitchen (which they love!); we try to keep dinner a pleasant and stress-free time; we don't argue or pressure them to eat...the list goes on.
- One thing we are seeing from all of this -- Even though it has been a glacial process (meaning, it has taken a long damn time!), they are getting better about trying new foods and even eating and liking healthier foods. Taylor has especially made a lot of progress. It has taken years (years!!), but it is happening. For instance, the other night, I was slicing green pepper, and he kept coming back to the counter and snacking on the green pepper slices. This past weekend, I made kale chips and offered him one. He took it, ate it, declared that it was "yummy!" and asked for more. He has also done a better job of trying new foods, even if he then decides it's not for him. I try to not make too big of a deal of any of these things. I just try to act like it's all his choice and it's cool if he does and cool if he doesn't. Inside my head I'm like, "Oh my freaking lord he just ate a kale chip!! My son just ate kale!!" But I keep that all on the inside :)
So there are some positive things happening. But it is still a struggle every day, and it can be so frustrating, because I have so many fun, delicious, healthy things I can make them that they just totally turn their noses at because it's "new."
I can remember my own mother saying "You love everything in this dish. Just try it!" Now I find myself saying the same exact thing.
They're not dying, they're not starving, they're not overweight, they're not underweight.
It's just something I think about and want to learn more about, and as I continue to learn, I will share my discoveries!