Moms come to me asking for the recipes and tricks I use to get my kid to eat healthy.
I’ve made smoothies, hidden veggies in muffins, brownies and meatballs. Spent hours in the kitchen making healthier versions of just about everything. I’ve cut food into cute shapes, introduced things the recommended 10-15 times. Implemented the 2 bite rule. Stooped to bribery and rewards. Let him help me cook his food. Made eating “fun”. It is exhausting, frustrating and deflating for a fitness professional like myself.
One success we’ve had is “green bean racing” where we both eat one green bean at a time and see who gets their bean in their mouth first. Racing other food has worked now and then as well.
My son isn’t the worst out there. He will eat grilled chicken instead of breaded. He prefers sweet potato fries (sort of better), he will eat green beans and peppers, cantaloupe and strawberries. He knows he has to eat healthy food if he is going to eat crap. But he loves sugar. Wants treats all of the time.
Breakfast is the hardest. He won’t touch eggs. Decided he no longer likes yogurt. So on most busy mornings he’s been eating “healthier” fig bars from Trader Joe’s (we call them cereal bars). Loaded with sugar be it all natural.
This morning I had a win. My son used to eat peanut butter and then one day stopped liking it. I also don’t like peanut butter but it was a source of protein for breakfast so I was bummed. Strangely, he will eat it in candy…
This morning I convinced him to try some toast with peanut butter and jelly. He of course preferred the jelly but he agreed to letting me put a small amount of peanut butter under the jelly. Now, this isn’t a huge win. Though I use a “healthier” bread, it is still bread. The jelly I use is completely made from fruit -still sugar. But it is WAY less sugar than the “healthy” cereal bar he was eating.
I try to look at all of the failed attempts he and I have had cooking up those healthier treats as quality time and I don’t regret.
My feeling of failure as a fit mommy who is seen as a role model for health is unnecessary, I know. We are all just trying to do the best that we can. Kids are their own person, not puppies we can train who will eat anything in their food bowl.
What I can recommend is being patient. It isn’t worth the stress and the fights. Don’t give up. You don’t have to give into the kid food norms of all crap all the time. But don’t set your expectations too high either. I know my son is just one of those kids that gets set in his ways. In the right moments, I can get him to be adventurous and try something. As he gets older, I can reason with him a little more.
Some of you will disagree with me and I respect that. I just ask you to not judge other moms who are doing their best. As in everything in life, you should always think about what it might be like to be in someone else’s shoes rather than casting judgement.