This is what I hear from parents on a regular basis:
- Everybody wants to eat something different. I’m not a hotel!
- I’m freaked out! My kids won’t eat any vegetables!
- I hate to cook. How do I feed my kids
- My spouse and I want some peace at meal times. We want to include the kids, but everything is so stressful and mealtime is chaotic.
Here are six distinctions to help you get on track, feel sane, and take a huge sigh of relief. You will love my meal tips and be amazed how easy this can me.
- If you absolutely hate to cook, have faith. Let me explain the difference between cooking and providing nourishment. The former may be loathsome to you. Don’t worry, let it be. I am not on a campaign to convince you that you must learn to love to cook. It’s not for everybody. But eating is. What I am about to tell you works beautifully for all of my students and my clients: Consider that the food for your kids and family is for nourishment. That’s all you have to do. And this can be done successfully without ever becoming a master chef. I’ll show you how in the last part of this blog. If you focus on doing something that is nurturing and nourishing for your kids, all of a sudden, nobody cares if you cook or not.
- Inspire your family to relax and connect around meal time. If there is stress or chaos in the air, you be the leader mom or leader dad to set the tone. It makes all the difference in the world if you come into the kitchen having taken some deep breaths, or walked around the block for ten minutes listening to music, or done some yoga stretches. If your kids are acting out, the smartest thing you can do is stay calm. The kitchen can be declared a No Stress Zone. If your kids (or spouse) start winding up, you can ask them nicely to take it in another room. It is easier and more pleasant to make and serve food when people aren?t scattering their negative energy all around you.
- Regarding what kids will and won’t eat, no more begging, cajoling, manipulating, controlling. I know this seems like the hardest thing to do, and sometimes I wish I did it better with my kids when they were little. But it is so worth attempting. Let’s say that Junior doesn’t want to eat broccoli. Remember that when you serve it, the less attached you are that Junior will eat it, the more likely that he or she will. It’s counter-intuitive, I know. Small children can be very rebellious. If they know that mom or dad is desperate for them to eat their veggies, they now have leverage. If you want your kids to eat veggies, eat your veggies and let them come to it themselves.
- Have clear boundaries. You do have the prerogative as the parent to set limits, such as no dessert without eating the healthy food. All of that can be done in a spirit of love. It is your job as a parent to help your kids develop good habits. You have the right to tell your son or daughter that cereal for dinner is not allowable. Or that it is not an option to have macaroni and cheese every night. Be helpful, come from love. Heck, you pay for the food! I used to tell my kids that I love them too much to buy the junk food they requested. I always tried to loosen control when they were out of the house, and use our home as a place to expose them to good practices.
- Raise your own standards. Please don’t expect your kids to have good habits if yours are seriously compromised. If you long for your family to become healthy eaters, it starts with you. If you want your kids to eat balanced meals, model this for them. One mom told me that she feels terribly guilty that she did not show her kids how to appreciate home cooking. It’s never too early to start this, and it’s always too late to wait. If you want your kids to drop some pounds, be a good role model. It is unreasonable and unfair to expect them to have good habits if you are not showing them what they are.
- Keep things super simple. This is the part where you take a deep, unhurried breath and let your shoulders drop down about four inches. I hope you are astonished by this list of meals that are nutritious, delicious, and complete and can be prepared by any loving parent who hates to cook, but who loves to nourish his or her kids. What parent doesn’t want to feed their kids good food that helps them be healthy? Get rid of the junk, create a more loving environment, and consider these super simple balanced, meals:
- Cottage cheese, chia seeds, blueberries, almonds
- Honey crisp apple with all natural peanut or almond butter
- Hard-boiled egg, grapefruit slices, mixed almonds and walnuts
- Healthy meal-replacement shakes
- Celery, peanut butter, Greek yogurt, berries
- Quinoa, can of salmon drained, chopped veggies, grated Parmesan
- Steamed broccoli, cubes of grilled tofu, scallions, Feta cheese
- Chicken pan saut?ed, coconut oil, lemon juice, garlic, onions, bell peppers
- Baked spinach, sliced tomatoes, halibut
- Spaghetti squash, marinara, mushrooms, olives, goat cheese
- Multi-grain pasta, pesto, cubed chicken, onions, steamed zucchini
- Persian cucumbers, mixed humus, olives
- Steamed yams, canned salmon with mayo, green salad
- Fuji apple with slices of goat milk cheddar cheese
- Poached egg with slices of pineapple and some?Greek yogurt
- Veggie omelet with sprouts, guacamole, salsa and tapenade
Surely, there are simple meals you can make from this list. I make it sound easy because it can be. By raising up the environment around mealtime, spreading more love and less stress, the simple becomes the sublime. The family that eats healthy together stays happy together.
With love and encouragement,
Board Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
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