How to Teach Your Kids to Eat Healthy
As parents, our job is to equip our kids with the tools and knowledge to be strong, independent adults. Sometimes this means acknowledging that we’re probably screwing them up. It also means modeling healthy eating, talking about real food, and teaching them how to cook.
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After nearly a decade of Mommin’, these are the top 3 truths I’ve learned about raising kids:
1. If I’m what sends them to therapy, I did a good job
If in 20 years, they’re sitting across from their therapist (I imagine her looking like Tina Fey, but maybe he’ll be more Ben Stein) describing an unhealthy pattern I started in their life, I’m okay with that. If I’m the worst thing to happen to my kids, they had a pretty good childhood.
As conscientious parents, we’re just doing as good a job as we can, working from our own brokenness. I know I’m screwing them up a little.
2. Control is an Illusion
I train my kids to be kind and respectful. But if they get a wild hair and throw a fit at the grocery store, don’t look at me like it’s my fault. I didn’t pinch them or ask them to have an irrational hatred of the grocery buggy seat. This is just as shocking and unpleasant to me as it is to you.
Just like we can’t control anyone else, we can’t control our kids. We can train them, we can guide them, we can answer questions. But they have their own likes, dislikes, love languages, and the sooner we can release ourselves and them from unhealthy expectations, the better.My goal as a parent is to work myself out of a job. I'm not raising an obedient child. I'm raising a strong, independent adult. Click To Tweet
3. We’re Raising Strong Adults, not Obedient Children
My goal as a parent is to work myself out of a job. I’m not raising an obedient child. I’m raising a strong, kind, independent adult. Obedience is certainly a part of that, but I don’t want my kids to do the right thing because that’s the way they were raised. I want them to do the right thing because that’s what they BELIEVE and choose.
This applies to every area of their lives: faith, friendships, sexuality, politics, healthy living, and even what they eat.
Equip Your Kids to Eat Healthy
You can’t force a kid to love avocados (see #2). And eventually, they’ll have to make their own decisions about what they eat and how they spend their money.
We live in a world where most kids don’t know where their food comes from. They don’t know that yogurt is made from milk or what fruits and vegetables grow best in their area of the country.
I learned to love healthy eating because I fell in love with good food that came from the earth and not from a science lab. I appreciated the work that went into 1 gallon of fresh milk – mostly because I was the one marching to the barn at 6 am.
And I learned to cook. Nothing else made me love healthy eating more. Making good food choices is far less intimidating when you know what to do with a pile of veggies, fresh mozzarella, some olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Articles about whole grain, sprouted flour, and sourdough are easier to swallow when you know how to bake a good loaf of bread. Learning what to do with raw ingredients empowered me to eat well when our budget looked like it could barely afford ramen noodles.
However, our kids are going to grow up. They will make a lot of decisions, and one of the most common – 3-ish times a day – will be how they fuel their bodies.
I don’t expect my kids to be health nuts (again, see #2). In fact, as young adults, I fully expect them to live on crackers and spray cheese for a while. I understand. But as their parent, my job is to equip them with the tools to become strong, independent adults (see #3).
That means that after they get sick of spray cheese or realize they fell victim to the freshman 15, they will have the knowledge, skills, and taste, for making good food.
Failing at Teaching My Kids to Cook
When my firstborn was 1 year-old, I was a great mom and teacher. He stood on a chair next to me, stirring pancake batter and chewing on celery.
However, fast forward several children and stressful years later, and the kitchen had become my sanctuary. I just needed to crank Aretha and have alone time with the chicken and broccoli.
I tried to include my kids, but they could tell it stressed me out – the mess, the movement, the questions, the noise.
*By fall 2017, my 8 year-old – that precious sous chef back in the day – only had a vague interest in cooking.
*The middle son had no interest. Because of course, I forgot to include him during his toddler days that I only vaguely remember.
*The 3-year-old dumped 10 pounds of flour on the table while helping me make bread. That’s all I’ll say.
I thought I was teaching my kids to cook. But I was only making a mess. Or cleaning it up. The kitchen became a stressful place for my kids.
I was failing.
Kids Cook Real Food
My kids were old enough to start preparing some of their own food. They wanted to be more independent. I knew that learning to cook a little would help them appreciate real food and be more adventurous eaters.
So we tried the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse, an online cooking class for kids. Honestly, I didn’t have very high hopes. Perhaps I was still scarred from the flour incident.
You guys. It was miraculous. After the second class, my 8-year-old asked if he could bake cookies, AND HE DID. BY HIMSELF.
Now, all 3 of them LOVE cooking and constantly talk about the importance of real food. They help with meals on a daily basis. I haven’t had to make a salad in weeks, because they volunteer to do it. When we had company over last week, they asked if they could make dinner. I put chicken and sweet potatoes in the oven and surrendered the rest of the meal to them.
Nearly every time we bake something (which is often, because #cheapskate), they volunteer to help, AND IT IS ACTUALLY HELPFUL. They measure and stir, and I only vaguely oversee or help take hot things out of the oven.
If you want your kids to be more adventurous eaters, and if you want to empower them to love real food, Now is your chance.
***Through Wednesday THIS WEEK, Kids Cook Real Food is offering a FREE class***
I’m excited that Katie is offering a whole set of “Healthy Snacks Kids can Make” videos for any new members THIS WEEK – that means you’re just in time to get into the course for summer (when you’ll actually possibly have time to do the videos) AND get a $20 class for free!
Hop on that deal before Wednesday and maybe your kids will be making YOU snacks instead of the other way around….
Everyone needs snack ideas! Get free videos for your kids to learn the recipes today!
Go here to get a FREE download of healthy snacks that your kids can start making today.
The 4th truth I’ve learned about kids is that I have to be willing to try new resources if my way isn’t working. Kids Cook Real Food is one of the best.