Thursday, January 31, 2013

Introducing Children to Real Food (Or "Bing Crosby Answers")

I have a secret.  Bing Crosby is a past heartthrob of mine.  When Jeremy and I were dating, I told him his only competition was Bing (we were on a first-name basis, Bing and I).  Sure, he was on the other side of eternity, but his records and movies lived on in my heart.  How does this have anything to do with getting kids to eat healthy food, you ask?  I'll tell you.  Bing Crosby will, actually.  He delivers his wise answer in classic, Bing form (cue the big band intro music).  If you know the song, croon along with my Bingter:

Accentuate the Positive

Real food is good!  It's colorful, flavorful, and it makes us feel great.  I know that and you know that, but how do we open our children's eyes to that?  Especially if they've been eating lots of packaged foods as of late.  Their taste buds have been conditioned for it, and it can be rough reconditioning them to enjoying what real food tastes like.  The first step to help them understand is to level with them.  Communicate.  Express our excitement and joy.  
Oh my goodness, this organic orange is so sweet and juicy!  I can feel my body getting so happy about it!  It's killing germs and giving me energy!
Wow, these carrots were  just pulled out of the ground and they are so tasty!  I never knew carrots could be so sweet and crisp!  Food that is grown close to our home and just harvested makes them super fresh.  The fresher, the tastier!   Can you taste the difference of these carrots from those packaged baby carrots?

This roast is so juicy and tender!  It's from a cow that ate what it was created to eat: grass!  When cows are treated well, they give us amazing roasts, steaks, and burgers.  There's so much more good stuff in grass-fed beef than the kind that comes from caged up cows.  

Does your child still complain about healthy food?  Here are a couple of my favorite responses:
You don't think you like this?  That's just because you haven't tried it enough.
If your child still refuses to eat the meal, instead of getting trapped in their drama, simply remove it from the table with a gentle response of, you'll like it better next time.
I totally just said that.  
If your child absolutely refuses to eat the meal, remove it.  S/he will eventually be hungry and eat.  You are the parent.  You are the one in authority over the food situation, not your child.  That might not have been the household approach in the past, but this will help your child realize that their little, immature (but very cute) self is not the one who makes the food choices; not until they have been "trained in the ways they should go" (that's what we are doing for, here).  "But my kid won't eat that."  They certainly will if they don't have a choice.  Trust me.  This isn't mean.  Allowing them to eat health-compromising, fake food is, though.

Eliminate the Negative

We want our children (and ourselves, for that matter) to make good choices, right?  Let's make it easy on ourselves:  don't buy bad stuff.  It's easy to buy a box of crackers, cookies, cereal, and other things filled with white/refined sugar and flour to fall back on "for an emergency" or "to eat in moderation," but if your family is used to snacking on them and they are there for the taking, you simply will not stop eating them.  Ya gotta go cold turkey.  You also must have healthy alternatives available.  Here are some "if you eat ___, eat ___ instead" ideas:
Sometimes, if you're already familiar with cooking from scratch, it's as easy as transitioning your old ingredients out and and buying new ingredients.
  • Choose spelt instead of white flour.
  • Choose almond and/or coconut flour instead of all-purpose gluten-free flour (many recipes using these flours can be found in our recipes page).
  • Choose coconut, date, or whole sugar instead of white/refined/expeller pressed sugar.
  • Instead of grocery store produce that has likely traveled thousands of miles, is old, and laden with cancer-causing pesticides, find a local Community Supported Agriculture to get in-season, organic fruits and veggies.  You might be surprised how amazing they taste!  It will save you time, as well:  good food doesn't need to be disguised or made into a dish, they taste delicious all on their own. 
  • Find local, grass-fed meat.  There's so much to say about this.  It's really important.  If you want to know more, I highly recommend looking into this little, easy-read book.
  • Choose organic, raw, grass-fed milk and dairy products instead of pasteurized.  I know this is a huge stretch for some, and I was adamantly against raw dairy until I read up on it.  We have been eating it for years now and have noticed a massive improvement in our health.
Yes, good food costs more.  Yes, it can be challenging to fit it in a budget.  It makes you re-prioritize your whole life as you work the budgets around.  Cable TV or food that will make my family thrive?  One of my favorite quotes is "You either pay the organic farmer now or the doctor later."  It's so true.

Latch On To The Affirmative

Celebrate each victory!  When you find a healthy dish that your family, or most of your family enjoys (or even eats without weeping and gnashing their teeth), do a dance of joy!  Blow a shofar!  Give a First Nations victory yell!  You are on the road to health, and you are taking your family with you.  Praise your family for making each good choice.  You just enjoyed frozen blueberries instead of those nasty popsicles we used to eat!  Your body is so happy and healthy now!  

Don't Mess With Mister In Between

Consistency is key.  It's also the hardest part.  You know those days when you're super tired, unmotivated, or cranky and you just want your kids to be happy for once so you're tempted to shove something in their mouths that will make the house quiet and peaceful for a few seconds?  Yeah, I totally don't know those days, either.  Except I do.  Don't give in!  Take it easy on yourself, but don't show the kids that you can be manipulated.  Get out the air popper and make some peanut butter and honey popcorn.  Or just melt some butter or coconut oil and pour it over the popcorn and sprinkle some sea salt on it.  Go ahead.  Dive in head-first.  Oh, and the kids can have some, too.  Just don't go to the store and get a box of something!

I know Bing and I just covered a million miles of information and you might have some questions.  Please, please go ahead and write your question down in the comments box below!  I will reply, or even write a post, just for you.  Bing might have a few things to add, too.  We make a good team, Bing and I.  Jeremy understands.

I'm sharing this at Real Food Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fight Back Friday.


  1. Maybe you have blogged about this before but I am new to your awesome blog! How do you handle extended family & food? Especially when it comes to kids & treats. We have always had a hard time!

  2. I would love input on how to get my 13 year old daughter to be more open to try new foods? I am pretty sure it will take time, but I feel that this has become a battle for us. We have a 6, 3, and 2 year old that have adapted to the switch, but our oldest complains all the time that we do not have any food in our house or that she does not like what we are eating. Any suggestions? I know that there are a few healthy options that she does enjoy, but I want her to be more open to trying new foods.

  3. Somehow in my in-between-ness I let my 21 month old learn that packaged foods are better. Even when we have no packaged snacks in the house, he'll bring me a box of dry whole wheat pasta and ask for "nak!" because its in a box and therefore better than the fresh options I offer him! Ugh! I'm guilty of getting "treats" while we're out running errands, and my mother-in-law gives him all kinds of stuff.
    Cold turkey it is, then!

  4. Guilty of doing the snack thing. We eat 90% clean, but it's the snacks that kill me. I have lots of little ones and they want to eat ALL the time. I would love some more snack ideas. Popcorn gives some of us stomach aches (air popped and organic). Raw cheese is crazy expensive out here, like $10/pound. And what do you feed your little little (12-18 month old )ones? We do raw milk kefir smoothies every day. It's our favorite snack that everyone can eat. So more snack ideas spoils be greatly appreciated :)

  5. Great post! I need baby steps to start this process. I was doing really well changing things around and then in August my oldest (10) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It really sent me off the right path because you have to count carbs with her diet. So the things I was making from scratch I started buying so I could read the label. She is a terrible eater and now I feel guilty because she has to get 5 shots a day. :( I already do grass fed beef, pasture eggs. Hopefully raw milk soon. What next step should I take?

  6. Love, love, love it! Wish more people felt so passionately about feeding our kids well- WE are responsible for what they eat when they are in our house! When our kids don't like something, we don't make a big deal about it, we just cover the dish and put it back in the fridge and excuse them from the table. THen at the next meal time, out comes the dish with that very same meal on it and they can give it ago again... and again.... and again if need be! They are smart cookies (ha!) and it doesn't take long for them to figure out there is nothing else for them until they eat what has been provided. It's just one more area where we can help them in the long run by training them when they are young. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Katie!

  7. Great post! My husband and I started the journey into real food a year ago this month, no regrets! It is hard to stay on track sometimes but so worth the effort. Also, with me and my husband it was Frank Sinatra =) (although I love me some Bing, White Christmas is my favorite movie)

  8. thanks for this post! i get really nervous because my boys are 18 months and i'm a first time mom. is it too early to take their plate away when they refuse? how are they going to survive through the night if they won't eat the dinner i put in front of them?? i'm usually just scrambling around to find something, ANYTHING that they will eat! i've never really given them anything unhealthy, but i do feel like they control me when it comes to meal times.

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  11. Hi Katie, I really want to share this post to facebook. However, it has the comment from Hailey showing in the link. You did not answer Hailey publicly (as well as some of the other people who commented), so I'd really like to see some answers posted (even if you say you will reply to them via private message). That way, you will look like the responsible blogger that I know you to be. Because I want people to know about your great healthy food posts. Feel free to delete this comment after you have read it.

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