I grew up in a household in which weight, diets, food, and nutrition were a constant conversation that never seemed to end. I vowed to have a different attitude about food when raising my own kids. So I’ve developed a few rules of my own to help my kids eat better — without forcing them to eat their vegetables.
1. They don't have to eat their vegetables.
I don’t want to eat vegetables at every meal, so why should my kids have to?
2. Both kids have to try everything once.
My kids never have to finish what’s on their plate, but they do have to try everything on their plate.
3. They don't have to clean their plates.
If my kids are hungry, I suppose they’ll eat. If they don’t eat, they can eat at the next meal. I’m not making another.
4. Electronics aren't allowed at the table.
I know my kids don’t eat well when they’re distracted so we have a “no screens at the table” rule. Plus, sometimes mealtime is the only time I get to connect with the kiddos. They can play “Plants vs. Zombies” another time.
5. Mealtime takes place at the kitchen table.
I’m not running after my kids with a fork full of pasta, nor am I playing games to get them to eat. They can sit down and have a civilized meal. Plus, it’s a total drag to pick up food off the floor because the kids decided to run around the house with hot dogs in hand.
6. I don't fill the house with junk food.
Since I still have young kids, I have a few more years of controlling what they eat. And while I don’t want to restrict their fun, I don’t have to fill our house with junk that I’m going to be mad at them for eating. When it comes to treats, a little goes a long way.
7. Everyone eats the same thing, at the same time.
In our house, there’s no such thing as “kid” food. If I’m cooking and we’re all having dinner together, then we all eat the same thing.
8. They have to eat all their dinner if they want dessert.
I don’t mind if my kids want a treat after dinner, but I do mind if they say they aren’t hungry for dinner and then beg for a cookie. The rule is dinner first, then treats.
9. We break the rules once in a while.
Remember that time the hubs was out of town and you had Pringles for dinner? Well, every now and then I let the kids break all the rules and have a silly dinner (or candy breakfast). They just need to know it’s an exception not a rule — and it’s not happening all the time.
10. I make what my kids like to eat.
My kids love to eat raw carrots and cucumbers with their dinner. So I usually serve one of those veggies with dinner. I’m just happy they’re eating veggies; I don't really care if it's the same two veggies all the time. They’ll learn to love Brussels sprouts later. I did!