Healthy Bellies, Happy Moms

Feeding young children can be a chore. You don’t quite know what to feed them, it seems like they never want to eat what you know is best for them, and you just don’t have time to think about it. I know how you feel.

My game plan from the beginning was when my daughter was old enough to eat solid foods that I would do only vegetables and eventually go to a few fruits. No juice for a while and no snacks out of the package. That lasted, in the words of my mother, about as long as Pat stayed in the army (I have never figured out what that was referring to but it pretty much means not very long).

I had good intentions but I don’t think most mothers, working outside the home or inside, have time to limit things that strictly. So I allowed myself to relax a little. But I still restrict what goes into my daughter’s mouth and do my best to give her a variety of different foods so as she gets older she’ll be more apt to try different things (here’s to hoping!).

The majority of her cookies and crackers are organic. Not all but the majority. I catch them when they’re on sale to help out with the cost. If I can catch a good price on organic veggies and fruit I’ll grab that for her too. I’m not a fanatic about organics but I figure every little bit helps. I make sure to look at the amount of sodium that is in the each serving. This is a big contributor that a lot of parents forget about. I also stay away from artificial colors and flavors in products that she eats.

To help with cost and to control what she’s eating, I make a lot of the meals that she eats. I stopped giving her baby food in the jar when she turned 1 because I didn’t want to spend the money when I could make it myself. Currently I only use jarred food if we’re on vacation or we are out of the house all day since you have to refrigerate homemade food.I had been making some of her food from the time she was 8 months – I bought a Magic Bullet blender and threw frozen or fresh veggies and fruit in there. With the veggies I’d put in different meats and the fruit I’d mix with cereal or yogurt. Once she got more teeth and could eat different things I started using the Magic Bullet less, although I still use it if something is too course for her. And I use lots of herbs and spices to flavor the food so I don’t have to put in salt. There are a lot of great books and websites out there that you can use for ideas on how to create your own baby food. One easy to use website is Weelicious . They have recipes, suggestions on kid friend restaurants, a message board and an online recipe box to store your favorites in.

One of the teachers at my daughter’s daycare asked one day what the “green thing” she had for lunch was. I told her it was mashed peas. The teacher was surprised, commented none of the other kids ever had vegetables and said “wow you’re a Supermom”. I laughed and said “I’m so NOT a Supermom. I took frozen peas, defrosted them, put them in the Magic Bullet with water, and ground them up. It took me a whole 15 minutes total.” But other than the nice (but not true) compliment, what surprised and shocked me was that none of the other 4 children in her class ever brought fresh vegetables, and I found out later, fresh fruit.

It really doesn’t take a long time to create healthy food choices for our children. If we have time to pick up products with high fructose corn syrup in it to feed to toddlers then we definitely have time to mush up some frozen peas for 2 minutes or cook some baby carrots on the stove top for them to snack on. Currently 30% of children in this country are overweight and it’s estimated that 1 in 3 children born in 2000 will develop diabetes before they are 18. My daughter I know will eventually want junk food and a little on special occasions is fine. But I want to start her off on the right track so if she has some junk she knows it’s a treat and not to expect it.


I swear my daughter has a third leg that’s hollow, or she has a second stomach. Why? She eats way more than I do and yet is as slim as a filly. Sure, a lot of that is her toddler metabolism and genes, but that leaves me as mom and Head Chef to constantly review her menu to make sure she’s getting a balanced diet.

That includes introducing and reintroducing and reintroducing foods all the time. I didn’t really believe the parenting magazines and books when they said this would happen, but it does. It’s an exercise in patience and innovation for me. This week it’s green beans. I’ve tried them cold (preferred), warm (no-go) and with some melted cheese on them (picks off and eats the cheese, but hey, she has to taste some green bean while doing it!).

I don’t consider myself a “super mom” for adding broccoli or spinach to her mac and cheese, which she’s never had without some green vegetable in it. Nor do I consider myself great for giving her so much fruit every day that I personally, can no longer stand to look at another grape/strawberry/apple/peach/banana/ you-name-it! She loves it and it’s good for her, enough said.

But I do cheat now and then. I cheat with a twinge of guilty conscience, but it’s those days that we are in “survival” mode. Yes dear reader, McDonald’s has come in handy for us on quite a few occasions. Now, I’m not going to rear my child on chicken nuggets, but thank goodness she loves them! Realistically, the protein is good for her; the convenience good for me. And considering all the other fruits, vegetables, grain, dairy and eggs she eats on a daily basis, McDonald’s nuggets won’t hurt her, as long as she doesn’t eat them every day.

So parents out there, don’t beat yourselves up for occasionally cheating now and then and giving your kids “junk” food. But do make them wholesome meals. Vary their diets, allow them to explore new tastes and textures. Skip the empty carbs for snacks, like potatoe chips and cookies, and give them fruit or cheese. Try to eat dinner at the table every night.

Just don’t try to make dinner for the family and blog at the same time~~otherwise take-out will be the order of the night.


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