I’m not exactly a foodie but I do put a lot of thought and effort into what I eat. Making food from scratch is a hobby and I enjoy learning about how to get the greatest benefit from what I eat. When Eleanor turned six-months and showed interest in solid food, I poured my efforts into providing her with healthy, homemade meals. I pureed batches of fruits and vegetables in our tiny apartment kitchen and carefully introduced her to new flavors and textures. I’ve learned a lot about feeding children since those early days and though I am by no means perfect, I’ve found a way of providing our children with healthy, delicious meals while passing on positive attitudes about food.
What I feed my kids
Ideally my family would only eat locally grown, organic (when it has a marked benefit), in-season whole foods. Reality is, we’re on a limited budget and I don’t have time to source and prepare our food this way. Maybe someday. So for now we do our best with conventionally grown foods. As I said before, making food from scratch is a hobby and I highly value eliminating processed foods in our diet. I make yogurt, stock, bread and lots of other foods myself and I get satisfaction knowing my children eat nourishing foods made with care. We don’t eat much meat and I’m trying to cut back on dairy as well. The more plants, the better. I currently do bake with sugar and white flour but I cut back on the amount of sugar and often substitute whole wheat flour. I am growing my repertoire of wheat and sugar-free recipes. I believe food should taste delicious and it is good for us to have treats in moderation. Because most of our diet is clean and healthy, I don’t mind whipping up a batch of chocolate chip cookies every once in a while.
How I feed my kids
While the food that goes into my children’s bodies important, the lessons they learn about food are more important.
I refuse to raise a picky eater so I am very intentional about introducing our children to new foods and increasing their palates. Because of this I use the Baby Led Weaning method to feed Edward. He’s always eaten what was prepared for the whole family and at 11-months he’s experienced a wide variety of foods, tastes and textures. Both kids balk at some foods and Eleanor refuses to eat others (she is a toddler) but I keep at it. Just because they won’t eat something now doesn’t mean they won’t another day.
We sit down together for three meals a day, even breakfast and lunch when it’s just the kids and me. Eleanor has an afternoon snack and I allow very little grazing. I want her hungry at mealtimes so she will be more likely to eat what is put in front of her. Because she is young I decide what she eats most of the time (unless it’s choosing between a banana and an apple) Since moving in with grandparents we occasionally eat in front of the t.v. but it’s rare and is still a family event so I don’t mind.
I hope to one day have a kitchen garden and raise chickens (in my wildest fantasy I also have a dwarf lemon tree) and plan to teach my children about where food comes from and to appreciate the work that goes into getting it onto their plate. This also means involving them in the kitchen when they’re older. When we lived and worked with university students I was surprised at how much some students knew about cooking (some were more advanced than I was) and how little others knew. I vowed my children will know how to prepare a full meal for a family before they start high school.
This is my ideal. It is not my 24/7/365 reality. Some mornings Edward eats handful after handful of Cheerios while I finish making pancakes. Occasionally Eleanor wanders around the living room eating a sandwich while I feed Edward. On weekend mornings Ryan might give her a snack. And that’s fine. We are not defined by these moments and it’s not worth getting bent out of shape over them. Every day I do my best and that’s good enough for me.
While it is challenging to raise our children to be happy, healthy eaters in a negative food culture it can be done. As parents we don’t need to resign ourselves to daily battles and unhealthy diets. By leading the way by making healthy choices ourselves and a dedication to meaningful meal times, we parents can teach our children to eat what is good for their bodies and nourishing for their souls.
While I came from parents who passed on (mostly) healthy attitudes about food and eating habits, I’ve read many books and articles about how to best nourish my family. Here are some of my favorites. I hope they help you discover or fine-tune a positive food culture in your family.
In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. This is where it all began for me. His down-to-earth approach to healthy eating is encouraging, balanced and doable.
GNOWFGLINS . This website is full of great recipes and about everything you would ever need to know about feeding your family a super-health diet. All without condemning those of us who aren’t quiet there yet.
French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon. Offers practical steps to help parents teach their kids to be happy, healthy eaters.
Parenting Without Borders by Christine Gross-Loh. This book addresses a wide range of child-rearing issues from a variety of cultures. In the chapter on feeding children, she looks at Japan, France, Sweden, Korea and the US.
The Lost Art of Feeding Kids by Jeannie Marshall. I’ve actually not read this book yet but plan to. It’s been referenced in articles and books I like and have learned from.
(I’m an Amazon Affiliate so if you purchase a book through the link above I get a portion of the proceeds. Thanks for your help in putting my hubby through grad school!)