- Batsheva Herzka
I'm a Dietitian and Here's What My Kids Eat
by Batsheva Herzka, RDN
What you might think of me: You're a dietitian; therefore, your kids eat three balanced meals a day, plus wholesome snacks in between.
Reality: Uh… no.
My kids are just like some of yours: they love candy and soda, they very much do not love chicken and meat, their main source of nutrients come from cereal, pasta, and yogurt, and they do not sit during mealtime.
Yes, I do try to keep a variety of nutritious kid-friendly foods in the house. Yes, I prepare well-rounded dinners most evenings. But no, my job is not to force my children to accept these foods and turn down sweets and treats. At this stage, with my kids all being in the preschool/early elementary category, my job is to model healthy eating behaviors and offer proper meals and snacks at appropriate times.
I’m here to let you know that it’s ok if your child eats a bowl of cereal most nights for supper. It’s ok if your kids eat a lot of candy on the seemingly too-frequent “special days” (holidays, parties, school events, at their grandparents, etc). It’s ok if they do not all sit at the table nicely and eat as a family. Avoiding power struggles in these situations is important while children are developing their relationship with food.
Over a span of time, children will usually consume enough nutrients in what they eat to support their growth. We can’t force our kids to eat anything, but we can expose them to a variety of food groups and textures to increase the likelihood that they’ll eventually grow into accepting a more balanced diet.
Here are some nutritious snack/meal ideas that my kids (sometimes) enjoy:
· Cut-up veggies with dip (chummus, ketchup, guacamole…)
· Fruit platter (I sometimes give an empty plate and they create fruit faces from whatever is on the platter)
· Banana snake (sliced banana with chocolate chips for the eyes and along the back)
· Rice cakes and cheese
· Wholesome muffins granola bars
· Kind kids bar
· Dole fruit cups
· Yogurt and banana or chocolate chips
· Acai bowls
As an aside, I think it is important to stock the pantry with snack bags and candy and give them out when appropriate. I definitely do not want my kids to sneak to the neighbors to obtain these foods or to trade “healthy” snacks at school with their friends’ “fun” snacks.
I hope you have a happy, healthy, and stress-free summer!