Dear Texas Food Revolution,
My kid only wants macaroni and cheese for dinner. I think she’d also be pleased with a straight diet of ice cream. Neither of these are acceptable. We are trying to be a healthy food household but I really don’t want to be a food task master for my daughter! I enjoy healthy fresh food but I don’t to force it upon her and make her not enjoy it and associate good food with authoritative commands.
Please help, thanks,
The underground Mac & Cheese railroad will occur if you force your nutritional will without ingestible reason, and more importantly, fun. I have three tips for you.
The first recommendation, and it sounds like you are already doing this, is to lead by example when it comes to exercise and passion(not annoying dogma) about food. Leading by example also includes keeping the right foods in the house. If you have only one box of mac and cheese for the week, or only one box of cookies for the month, then that is that. When you go grocery shopping, this is a good chance to engage your child in choosing food. They will ask for everything, and some of it may actually be healthy, so when they get back home, there will be certain items that they have chosen and will feel ownership over their “treat.”
The second recommendation, and probably the most rewarding and effective one, in my experience, is to involve them as much as possible. A child who gardens is a child who eats veggies. But it doesn’t have to go so far as gardening, allow your child to make the salad, for example. Call your child your soux chef and talk about what you’re making so they don’t feel so force-fed. They will begin to take pride in the diverse food and unique presentations that don’t exist in something like mac & cheese.
The third recommendation is to step up your dessert game! There’s nothing wrong with decadent baked goods or frozen treats, but let their be an art to it rather than stuffing your face with high fructose corn syrup soda and pastries in front of the tube. There is always the “finish your plate to get dessert,” motivation, and when it comes to dessert there are many healthy options.
Ice, Coconut milk, honey, peanut butter and cacao smoothies, mmmm. Frozen banana puree with something fancy on it, mmmm. Gluten free baked goods, mmmm. Or even the occasional pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough is preferable over a packaged item, in the baking process there is an understanding of the value and effort that goes into the treat. Let the indulgences be mindful.
Engage your child in the food process and step up your own game. Guilt and demands surely never did it for me, anyways, LOVE brought me to local, fresh food, not fear and authority.