Get kids cooking: If your children are involved in preparing meals, they'll be more interested in eating what they've created. Take them to your local farmers market or store, and let them choose fresh ingrediants for fruit salad, soups, trail mixes and muffins.
Make a schedule: Children need to eat every three to four hours. In a day they will be eating three meals, two snacks, and lots of fluids. If you plan for these, your child's diet will be much more balanced and they will be less cranky. When I pick up my kids from school, I always bring a healthy snack to combat meltdowns and easily wisk by the icy truck loaded with sugar and artificial flavors.
Plan Meals in advance: A good meal doesn't have to be fancy, but it should be balanced: A protein, a fat, and a good carb. Some good choices are, whole-grain pasta or brown rice, green and a colored veggies, and a protein source like grass fed meat or hormone free chicken or beans. I often make a simple entree ahead of time and then freeze it, so at dinnertime- I just heat it up.
Don't become a short-order cook: In my practice i meet too many moms who buys into the idea of kids food. Children love to pretend they are grown up and they love to imitate their parents, so why make them inferior meals. In my house i make one meal for everyone. I have never purchased from a kids menu or bought them foods marketed to kids.They dont have to eat everything but they need to try everything and since they shop with me everyone gets a chance to voice their opinion . But since most of our shopping is at the farmers market are meals are focused around fruits, vegtable,s and hormone free chicken, beef, beans and grains.
Introduce new foods slowly: Try to make meal time fun. If your kids don't love veggies cut them in difffernet shapes and dip them in hummus, salsa, tziki.
Mornings: Up your fiber in the morning by adding flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and fresh fruit to whole-grain pancakes ,waffles, oatmeal, and yogurt.
Have fun: The more creative the meal is, the greater the variety of foods my kids eat. We make smiley-face pancakes and give foods silly names. (Broccoli florets are "baby trees" anything mini is always a hit too. I often use cookie cutters to turn toast into hearts and stars, which the children love.
Be the change you want: If you're constantly on a diet or have erratic eating habits, your children will grow up thinking that this sort of behavior is normal.
As Michael Pollan says, "...if you crave junk, make it yourself. Remember, you, not your kids are in charge of the foods that enter the house.
Dawn Lerman, MA, CHHC, LCAT