Mommy food bloggers raise faultless little eaters who delightedly exclaim, “More veggies, please!” … Naturally, that’s not like it is. At least not all the time. It can’t be. What is true, though, is that the savvy parenting and foodie bloggers we got to know over the years all have something in common: They are real moms who create a healthy lifestyle for their families in our busy world. The women we’ve interviewed for our “How She Does It” series have action-packed schedules, just like you. So how do they get healthy dinner on the table every night? How do they empower their children to make their own healthy choices? Learn from the (real moms who put their pants on one leg at a time, too, and are simply trying their) best!
1. Never become a short-order cook for your kids
“Eat together, meaning everyone eats the same food. That really should start from day 1, as soon as they can sit in a high chair. Never become a short-order cook … The key is to provide a lot of options at the table, especially vegetables. We always have at least two vegetables on the table, leaving it up to the kids to help themselves to what’s been served. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of avoiding the trap of becoming a short-order cook for your kids. Stay the course. Keep putting foods out there. Over time, kids do adopt more foods into their diet … Cook, and cook together.”
~ Katie Sullivan Morford, Mom’s Kitchen Handbook: Raising Fresh-Food Kids in a French Fried Word
Read the complete interview: How She Does It: Katie Sullivan Morford
2. Show up at the dinner table, come hell or high water
“I think it’s super crucial to make healthy eating part of just what the family does. I don’t want to eat at 6 pm, but I’m at the table every night, at 6 pm, come hell or high water, because that’s what you have to do if you want to create those things … And we prioritize. This is not a period of time you can have a do-over about. And it’s a choice. And if you’re eating this way anyway, I think, at some point you sort of stop wanting to eat in restaurants, and it’s a really lovely time of day. The kids, they grow a little bit older, and we are so busy, it’s the only time of day that the cell phones get put down, the email gets turned off, and we all come together to talk about what we did during the day, and it’s done over food.”
~ Alexandra Zissu, who calls herself a “passable cook who shops extremely well for ingredients that shine.” AlexandraZissu.com
Read the complete interview: How She Does It: Alexandra Zissu — the “green goddess”
3. Honor your commitment to food prep
“Know that you can’t over-schedule yourself during food prep times. It’s above soccer practice and those things. Honor your commitment to food prep. I can spend 30, 60, or 90 minutes cooking dinner each night if I want to because I work part time and my life is pretty charmed in that sense, but not all moms have that schedule. So if you honor that cooking space on your calendar, it’s a priority and you schedule your life around that.”
~ Jenna Pepper, Food With Kid Appeal
Read the complete interview: How She Does It: Recovering Picky Eater and Food Blogger Jenna Pepper
4. Approach teaching your child to eat real food the same way as reading. It’s food literacy.
“If you have a child who when you first expose them to literacy is averse, we don’t ever say, oh, you’re illiterate. We don’t talk about our children like that with their ability to pick up literacy and language easily. If a child is struggling, we provide intervention for that child, adults know that most children do in fact learn how to read even if they need intervention. And I think if parents approach eating the same way most children will eat real food, some will need more intervention than others, because it’s food literacy. Then, the whole landscape changes.”
~ Jenna Pepper … again. She’s a well of wisdom.
5. Don’t get stuck in the “kids food” rut
Mom blogger Shannon Carino, who grew up in Canada, learned where food comes from at an early age through helping with her mother’s garden. This cultivated her conviction: “I want to give my kids food that I know what’s in it.” Shannon’s husband is Asian, so Asian cuisine staples such as rice, fish and vegetables reflect his heritage on the family menu. Along with wanting their kids to eat well, Shannon and her husband wanted to expose them to a wide variety of foods — not have them stuck eating only “kids food.” “We refuse to be the parents who go to a Japanese restaurant and still have to bring chicken nuggets for our child,” the mommy food blogger explained. She believes transparency is important and doesn’t try to deny them any specific categories, such as sweets. Shannon also ensures her kids have tried foods before they reject them. The mom and food blogger stresses that parents shouldn’t feel pressured to feed their kids “normal kids food,” but instead focus on encouraging an open mind.
~ Shannon Carino, “What’s for lunch at our house”
Read the complete interview: How She Does It: Shannon Carino, mom blogger and foodie
6. Make lunch together — and make it fun, balanced and easy
Mom blogger and MOMables contributor Keeley McGuire’s “Lunch Made Easy” ideas are fun, balanced, and most importantly, easy. She understands that getting your child to enjoy and actually want to eat nutritious lunches can be difficult today, as many kids’ lunches are packed with sodas, cookies, and nary a vegetable a sight. But by involving her daughter in the food preparation process and adding fun elements (think sprinkles, flags, and animal-shaped containers), she has cultivated quite a culinary interest in her daughter. To teach her about food groups, Keeley took recycled strawberry containers and labeled them by food groups, so that Little Miss could go through her own play kitchen and sort her fake foods. Now, when she helps put together her own lunches, she actually asks for a vegetables in her lunch! Bringing your children into the kitchen has even more benefits: it’s a great time to spend quality time together, and it’s also a learning opportunity as kids read recipes and measure out quantities into fractions.
~ Keeley McGuire, Allergy-Friendly Fun Lunch Boxes
Read the complete interview: How She Does It: Keeley McGuire
Mommy blogger or not, what is the one piece of advice YOU would give other parents when it comes to raising a healthy eater? Please share in the comments below!