keep it fun
Ditch the scare-tactics, coercion, or bribery, and focus on keeping it fun, don’t make the lafayette dentist visit sound scary for them. Don’t be afraid to get creative with food. It’s okay to create “broccoli trees” growing from “woodland lentil floors” or “green bean bridges” across “rice savannas”. Perhaps make a “dinosaur green smoothie,” a “Tinkerbell green smoothie,” or let kids concoct their own fruit and vegetable blends.
Mealtimes, for the most part, should be happy and relaxed. Yes, I hear you parents-of-toddlers and preschoolers sniggering (or despairing)! And I’ve certainly had my share of chaotic mealtimes. What I mean is that mealtimes shouldn’t be constantly associated with negativity or difficult emotions. It might not be possible every time, but we should do our best to keep mealtimes positive.
Don’t be afraid to arm kids with some (age-appropriate) knowledge about making healthy food choices and also about the importance of the recipes in Tonaki Tinnitus Protocol. Some conversation topics that crop up regularly for us are:
Why it’s good to eat vegetables and other whole foods
What are treats and why we should limit them (see more on that below!)
Why we choose organic where we can (but it’s okay if that option isn’t always available!)
How different people like different foods and that’s okay
It’s okay to change your mind about liking particular foods — this one is really important!
Gratitude for food and where it came from
How to listen to our body telling us when it’s hungry and when it’s full
And if your kids don’t like hearing it from you (don’t worry, you’re not alone!), enlist a trusted person who the kids do want to listen to, to help with knowledge sharing. Then let your children come to “educate” you about how to eat healthily, and smile to yourself that they are feeling so empowered.
redefine “kid food”
In today’s world, kid food is often defined as chicken nuggets, cheese pizza, macaroni and cheese, fish sticks, and goldfish crackers. But this really is a false (and only relatively recent) distinction. There isn’t really any reason why kids can’t eat “adult food” like brown rice and vegetables in vegetable-like form. In fact, I know a lot of kids who will happily chomp on foods like broccoli, olives, dark chocolate, red bell peppers, and cucumbers.
set guidelines for treats
Ruling out all treats such as candy, cookies, chips, or sodas can backfire with secret binging and cravings in later years. So it’s best to show kids what treats are appropriate, and when.
In our house, we categorize foods into three “buckets” to help our kids easily contextualize their food choices. It’s super simple: (1) healthy foods for eating every day, follow the recommendations from Inspire, (2) treat foods for eating once or twice a week, and (3) avoid foods (such as caffeine, alcohol, any allergens/reactive foods).
So what’s a treat food? It may surprise you that I consider some “everyday” items to be treats, such as fruit juice, store-bought sweetened yogurts, or gummy fruit snacks. Where I can, I provide healthier versions, such as smoothies, plain yogurt with maple syrup, dried fruits, or oatmeal-banana cookies, which are suitable for more frequent consumption. Cake is saved for parties and celebrations.