Getting Your Kids to Eat Healthy Foods
First, check out my newer post: How to get kids to love real food with our son who shares his advice. 🙂
I was wondering how old your kids were when you started to change the way you cooked/ate, and how they felt about the change? Some changes have been easy for us, but others leave my oldest one or two complaining.
Our oldest is 16 and when we started eating healthier meals 5 years ago it didn't phase the others (our youngest wasn't born yet), and they hardly fuss about anything, but he has been tough.
Who can blame him though?
I fed him such crap for the first 11 years of his life, that's all he knew – Poptarts and boxed sugar-bomb cereals for breakfast was the norm. Eating out a few times a week was typical, too. The other day he was at a relative's house and had Hot Pockets. He told me, “I remember when I used to think, ‘Oh, Hot Pockets again… whatever', now I'm like, ‘Ahhhhhh! Hot Pockets! YESSSS!'” Thankfully he has a good sense of humor and we were both cracking up when he said this. He was young enough the first few years that there were only minimal issues, but the last year or so he's increased the complaining significantly. If I have one boxed food or one ounce of junk food around (and I often do, for a recipe or whatever reason), he sniffs it out and will pig out on just that until it's gone.
I try not to freak out about this stuff too much, because I know it is SO NORMAL for teens to act this way.
I remember having all sorts of boxed junk around growing up (although Mom cooked a lot of good stuff from scratch, too), and I STILL complained all the time that there was “nothing to eat around here.” When Kent & I first started dating, I'd spout off that same old complaint and he'd look in our fridge and say, “Are you KIDDING me?!” He grew up in a home where they ate mostly from their garden (he knows now how blessed he was), and they didn't have as many of the “modern convenience foods” as we did, so our fridge and pantry looked like a goldmine to him!
Since the beginning I've made it a point not to be a Nazi about everything, knowing it would just make the junk all the more attractive.
He still has pop if we go out to eat (not often). I still make baked goodies more than I should. We have take-out pizza night now and then. We're still much more “mainstream” than we should be (we usually go by the 80/20 plan), and partly this is all in hopes that when he goes off to college, he won't go crazy and fill up with nothing but the junk he felt deprived of for years.
Even though we've tried to be low-key about it, I still think he'll go crazy at college.
He just said again the other day, “When I'm in the dorm, it's Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms every morning!” I zipped my lip and said a prayer that if he might “fall away” from eating healthier foods after he moves out (or fall away from his faith like some kids do), that he won't be gone long, and that he'll return with stronger convictions to follow the Truths he learned when he was still living with us.
What more can we do as parents?
My biggest suggestion is to keep as little junk food around as absolutely possible. After a while they won't complain anymore if it's never there and they know it's not coming back.
Obviously, it's much easier the younger they are. If only I'd known before he was born what I know now! But I can only move forward from here doing the best I can.
I'd love to hear how you deal with your complaining kids!