10.13.2009

Food For Thought

I'm going to be focusing on food this week on this here blog.

food glorious food...

Mostly because I've been thinking a lot about food lately. How to make it. How to get your kids to eat it. How to buy it.

etc...etc...etc...

So for tonight's food edition I wanted to talk about (drum roll please):

5 things that I think help kids become better eaters

Now don't worry. I am not about to get on my high horse here. Please. I've been known to say to my child "you need to eat a few more bites of that hot dog before you can have some more chips!" These are things that I learned on accident. I wasn't doing these things to raise better eaters. They were just consequences of earlier actions.

I also have a feeling that I might look back on this post years from now and laugh laugh laugh. Maybe I'll be blessed with a truly picky eater, or something of that nature. But as it stands now, my kids will eat pretty much anything-- vegetables, fruit, seafood, spicy guacamole, and maybe even roadkill if I offered it to them (I haven't, if you're wondering). And I think these five things might have something to do with it:
  1. When your kids are babies and toddlers eat with them. As in, have them sit on your lap or in very close proximity to you, and just give them bites off your plate. Children naturally want to mimic you. They will trust the flavor of the food more if it is something that you are eating with them. I started doing this with Vaughn when he was a baby. He just always seemed to want what I had, and it was easier then preparing two separate things. He was always on my lap. Most of the time now I just sit on the floor and let the kids share off of my plate while they toddle around and play.
  2. Plant a garden. Even if it's only a small container garden. Let them help you plant the seed and water it and watch it grow. Let them help pick. This year we planted a garden for the first time. I had an old wagon that we filled with soil and I let that be Vaughn's spot. I let him pick what he wanted to plant in it (radishes and peas), and he watered it every day. Vaughn loved everything that came up in our garden. He was out there with me everyday and he loved to find the ripe peas, pull up carrots, Kale, and radishes. He really enjoyed the taste of everything, because he was part of the process. It was an exciting thing for both of us. I think kids will naturally enjoy their vegetables and fruit more if it's home grown. It introduces them to the flavors grown in their own backyard, and teaches them a lifelong skill in the process.
  3. Cook with them. My kids are constantly in the kitchen helping me. I'll put Mason in the sling so he can watch, and Vaughn pulls up a chair to the counter top. I let him help add things to recipes, stir, touch the grains, taste things that I'm putting in etc...Again, I think that they enjoy the food more if they are part of the process. They feel real accomplishment and pride in helping, which makes them more likely to want to eat what they have helped prepare.
  4. Eat together as a family. It may be chaotic at times with little kids, and not worth the effort, but I think the togetherness is such a big part of raising good eaters. Because it's not just about the food. It's about the conversation, and sharing, and loving and having those things associated with the food. I also think that kids should eat whatever the family is eating. I don't give either of my kids anything special just because they are little. We eat together.
  5. I guess if you want to raise good eaters, you have to be a good eater yourself. I have lots to improve on in this area (lots), but I have my strengths too. I'm good at making things from scratch (which usually tastes a zillion times better and is cheaper too), and I like most foods (part of my problem). But most of the strengths that I have in this area are because my parents raised me this way. We ate together. We had a giant garden. We helped my Mom cook. I have so many good memories of food from home and am grateful that my Mom took the time to cook for us and let us share in that experience. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving.
There you have it. Jane's guide to ruling the universe. Sort of (oy. 10pm is late for me. I'm getting a little punchy here). Happy eating kiddos.