A typical morning during the busy school year would find me downing a frosted cinnamon and brown sugar Pop Tart and glass of apple juice in front of my children, as I rushed to get us out the door in time for school and work. After a long busy day, the evening meal was usually just as rushed and unexciting.
But now that it's summer, and a little more relaxed, I have time to offer my kids better meal options, and reminisce about the great hopes and dreams I had during my pregnancies of my kids eating only fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
Actually, even before I was pregnant, I used to dream about how perfect I would be as a mother and how I would raise only perfect children. I also admit that at times I judged other mothers whose children I saw running wild through the mall, throwing temper tantrums in restaurants and shoving junk food in their mouths.
I told myself that my precious children were never going to misbehave and would only eat healthy foods when they entered this world. But then my kids were born and reality set. I learned it’s not so easy!
I’ve spoken to some of my friends who have children around the same ages as mine, and they struggle as well with getting their children to eat right. When we get together, we often joke that we went from thinking we would never feed fast food to our kids to screaming frantically at them during meals to make sure they eat enough: “Please eat just one more chicken nugget!”
My kids are visual eaters. If something doesn’t look appetizing to them, they won’t even try it. But my husband had a great idea recently. He suggested that in order to get our kids to try new foods we call this “The Summer of Trying”. The kids agreed to try a different type of food as often as presented to them.
So far my daughter has been putting her brother to shame by trying the most foods. She's tasted plain lettuce (she calls it a salad), granny smith apples, carrots, steak, and red peppers.
My son is having a little more trouble adapting. But we're giving him an “A” for effort. He's tasted fresh peaches from the farmers market, a hot dog, bacon, a grilled-cheese sandwich, and soup. I admit that not all of these “new foods” are 100 percent healthy, but the point is to add variety to their meals. So far we seem to be accomplishing this.
Overall, I'm not too panicked about my younger kid’s eating habits. My 18-year-old was a very picky eater during his youth. He'd eat only a few chosen favorites. But the older he got, the more he ate –- and now he eats us out of house and home!