Feeding children is not as hard as it seems

Shaunte Thomas – Contributing Writer

Feeding children is not for the feeble-minded, and is actually a tough task. As a single mother with a full time job, not to mention a full time student as well, the mission only becomes harder.

Eating healthy seems like an impossible thing to do with the many time restraints the average person is faced with. Sometimes it just seems easier to pull up to the drive-thru and get a Wendy’s 4 for $4, or even something as simple as pulling a hot pocket out of the freezer.

Try understanding the difficulty I face feeding my two boys some of the healthier options in life. At the ages of six and four,  I have to incorporate healthier foods into their diet on a daily basis. What I have noticed is that children are sponges; so not only do they take in whatever they hear, but they also repeat actions that they see.  That was the first way I began their journey of healthy eating in a predominantly Caribbean household.

I initially started with healthier Caribbean dishes that are lower in fat and higher in nutrients. My children never fail to negate the fact that they are of Jamaican-descent so telling them I’m cooking a Jamaican dish was easy, but getting them away from the oxtail, pork and rice with extra gravy was a fight in itself. In order to coerce them to eat the food, I have to give off the impression that I myself enjoy the food as well, which so far has worked in my favor.

I would see to it that when I did indulge in healthier food options, such as vegan dishes, I would make sure to eat it in front of them—it won’t be long until they start begging.

However, I never tell my children no when they ask for particular dishes because it opens their minds to different kinds of food that I can incorporate in their diets. I don’t really pressure my kids into eating healthier as I try to use different tactics that fit their personality. The usage of bribery here and there never fails, all while allowing them to receive candy or even dessert as a reward for eating most of their meal.

To me, the use of sweets to encourage a child to eat healthy food, like vegetables, is another common yet great approach. Eating meals as a family is supposed to be fun so forcing them to do so will only make life a little harder. However, using substitutes in place of other options, and even allowing them to help prepare the meal, allots them the independence in wanting to try healthier foods on their own.

The easiest example to date would be the new popular drink Kombucha. My youngest son loves soda, however consuming it daily is not an option. Telling a little white lie here and there does the job. With this product having a carbonated taste like soda, I always pour it in a cup and tell him it’s a new soda and he almost never argues.

Healthy eating does not always have to be boring, and with children it should not be. Not being afraid to try new approaches can help you to get to the end result that you want and need.

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash.

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