Healthy [email protected]: A Tasty Testimony

The following article has been submitted by a local parent and is a firsthand account of Healthy Start in action at home.  For further information regarding best practices for healthy lifestyles in a family setting, please contact us at [email protected] or at 1-855-653-7454.

My husband and I work full time and are parents to a 4 year old boy and 3 year old girl.  Our supper meals had evolved into a stressful event.  It was a rush to get home and get a healthy meal on the table and our 4 year old boy had become increasingly picky.  He is also very slight so we started to think, well if he would eat anything that would be good.  Our 3 year old girl was a better eater.  We found ourselves slipping into some bad habits unknowingly.  We compared the two children out loud such as, “Oh, look how much your sister has eaten.”  And started treating food like a punishment and reward such as, “If you have one bite of broccoli then you can have dessert.”  The nights we didn’t feel like fighting over food, we would make two meals (one for the kids and one for the parents) – as if getting one meal on the table wasn’t enough work!  A friend of mine forwarded me some mealtime hints from Healthy Start and we implemented some changes immediately.

We recognized our mistakes, such as treating meal time like a performance or a punishment/reward.  We learned how children need to be introduced to food several times before they develop a taste for it.  We also learned how to prepare a no-fail meal.  We started building meals that included at least one item that we were pretty certain the kids would eat and a rule that you have to try everything.  When we remember, we try to put the food on the table and let the kids dish up themselves.  We learned to not spoil their appetites with milk and pre-supper snacks.  If the kids are very hungry and supper isn’t ready – we put out a plate of fresh veggies.

I didn’t realize how far we had come until I mentioned we were having tacos for “Cinco de Mayo” and my neighbor asked, “Your kids will eat that?!”  In my head I was thinking, of course they will.  We had prepared taco meat, salad, fresh peppers, and cheese quesadillas.  The kids were guaranteed to like at least some part of that meal!

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a loud cheer when we declare we’re making pizza or macaroni and cheese for supper, but there has been a huge improvement in their palettes and lower stress at meal times.  I’m grateful for this information and the suppers we share as a family.

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