Through the years, my eating/feeding philosophy changed many times as I acquired new information. I found “all or nothing” approaches difficult to maintain. I like to be able to eat what is served when we are visiting family or friends or traveling.
At home, we eat mainly whole, organic foods, buying as many locally produced items as possible. I enjoying preparing food for my family, but I also like to keep things simple. Pizza night keeps me sane and eager to cook again.
There is no eating plan that suits every philosophy or family, but there are some guidelines that benefit almost everyone:
1. Eat locally grown, whole foods as often as possible.
2. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables.
3. Healthy fats and oils are important for developing children and brains, hearts, and arteries. Include pastured meats, butter from pastured animals, coconut oil, and fish oils in your diet.
4. Processed foods (anything that comes in a can or box) should be kept to a minimum.
5. Gluten, the protein in wheat, seems to cause problems in many people. Look at your menu and make at least one meal a day wheat-free (no bread or pasta).
6. Eating at home is the best way to know what you’re eating. Most restaurant foods are full of partially-hydrogenated fats and other unhealthy additives.
In the summer, when most children are home, it is possible to introduce healthy eating habits. Consider trying one of the above ideas. And if you have super-picky eaters or children with oral sensitivities, see When Your Child Won’t Eat: Help for Resistant Eaters.
It is best to eat fruit on an empty stomach. It digests quickly and easily and, thus, can cause stomach upset when eaten at the end of a meal.
When children first want to eat, serve fruit. Serving only one kind of fruit is best for digestion.
Some fun and easy suggestions:
- Serve strawberries or blueberries topped with sweetened sour cream
- Sprinkle thinly sliced apples or pears with cinnamon
- Make little cubes of kiwi or mango
The next time children are hungry, serve eggs. Eggs are one of the most nutritious foods on Earth. The yolk is the food that grows a baby bird. Experiment with a variety of preparation methods to discover some your child enjoys.
- Scrambled with some fresh herbs and cheese
- Poached over sautéed spinach
- Sunny side up on a piece of buttered toast
Healthy Snack Ideas
It is easy to rely on packaged foods for snacks. Nature provides plenty of foods in their own packages – though we can make them more desirable to children with a little preparation.
- Celery, carrots, cucumbers, radishes, peppers (and any other vegetable) a creamy dip. It is easy to prepare one at home by mixing sour cream and mayonnaise with a healthy seasoning mix. Or, try dipping veggies in hummus.
- Apples and peanut butter.
- Puree berries with a bit of sweetener and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze and serve healthy frozen treats. Yogurt may be added for a creamy treat.
- Cut up melon.
- Frozen grapes or berries.
This summer, introduce your children to a new food or a new way to look at breakfast or snack time. Take your children shopping at the Farmers’ Market. Encourage them to pick a new fruit or vegetable to try. Enjoy the bounty of the season.