45 answers

How Well Do Your Kids Eat (Really)?

I try so hard to feed my kids healthy foods but I usually feel like I just fail!! They do have a couple fruits or vegetables every day but then I am exhausted by dinner time and end up caving to the convenience of that mac n cheese box or chicken dinos. And no, I don't mean the organic mac n cheese to which I add chunks of broccoli, I am talking pasta, orange and salty in a bowl. There is so much pressure to eat wheat free, or dairy free or vegan and I feel like all of the conflicting viewpoints make my head whirl. They don't drink soda and I avoid high fructose/trans fats for the most part, but I can't help but wonder if I am the last parent who lets their kids eat fruit snacks now and then or scarf down a bag of tortilla chips. They eat frozen waffles for breakfast which are pretty much nutritionally nothing and even though I pack 1-2 fruits/veg in their school lunch they also have chips or pretzels to go with it. We go to frozen yogurt way too often and those damn girl scouts held me down and made me buy cookies... so now we are eating those too. Now and then we hit up the drive through for an extra large bag of guilt. I would love to have my kids' diet consist of 70% organic veggies and fruit and the rest lean organic meats and when I hear of moms who can do this for their kids I feel like I am just failing them as a parent. I just can't afford to buy all those fruits and veggies organically or have some Paul Bunyan hunt my meat from a grass fed pasture. I guess I am just looking for someone to say, "I am not perfect with my kids diet either" lol. Am I the only one?

1 mom found this helpful

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Featured Answers

All things in moderation. NO ONE is perfect with their kids!!

Unless there are health reasons to do so, I've read that going gluten-free is actually *less* healthy because they have to process the food to make it gluten free, vs eating whole grains.

Just do the best you can - that's all any of us can do.

4 moms found this helpful

something needs to be done about those girl scouts! the got me too:( and i didnt feel like cooking this week since my hubs is out of town, so its pretty much been takeout ALL WEEK! except last night i made salmon, as requested by my son. Normally, yea we do eat pretty healthy, but hey we are all human cant be perfect all the time. you sound like an awesome parent! keep up the good work!

4 moms found this helpful

We have a balance. My kids get fast food once a week, and sometimes I make chicken nuggets and Kraft Dinner, but most of the time I try to make a good meal for supper. They get treats, but they are limited. I do not buy organic because it is simply not affordable. I don't think you need to be perfect.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers

First, I want to assure you that you shouldn't feel pressured to eat "wheat free, dairy free, or vegan." People only need to avoid wheat if they are allergic, sensitive, or have Celiac disease (my youngest has CD), and people only need to avoid dairy if they are allergic, sensitive, or have lactose intolerance (my youngest, again.) Eating vegan...the absence of ANY animal products...well, that's really a lifestyle choice, and in my opinion, not a very healthy one. So please don't feel guilty...you have common sense, and you aren't jumping on the bandwagon. Good for you!

Good nutrition is important, but it's more about balance than extremes, and you definitely don't have to follow fads or feed your child a wholly organic diet to feel good about yourself. I'll give you examples of my children's diets, and some suggestions for replacements that are easy to do. I'll refer to them as 7 and 2, because those are their ages and their diets are completely different.

7, for breakfast, alternates between the following: cereal, oatmeal, pancake, waffle, french toast, sausage and eggs. Included is fruit and watered down (50/50) 100% juice.

2, for breakfast, almost always has a GF waffle topped with peanut butter, fruit, and water. She will occasionally eat cereal.

7, for lunch, likes chicken, sandwiches, pot pies, bagels and cream cheese. I always serve a few sides...veggies, fruit, cheese, crackers, etc...and she drinks skim milk. Instead of buying chicken nuggets you can make your own, which really doesn't take that long, and bake them in the oven. Sandwiches can be made on whole wheat bread and include lean meats like turkey, chicken, etc...and nothing wrong with a little roast beef.

2, for lunch, will have yogurt, tuna, GF Annie's mac and cheese, a peanut butter sandwich on GF bread, GF whole pollock fish sticks, tamales, etc...also has fruit and veggies with these. The mac and cheese is no more than once a week, and it's not that bad, honestly...better than Kraft. I try to limit the tuna because of the mercury, but she does really like it. I have quit buying chips, because they are one of those things that no one can seem to eat in moderation.

For dinner, we always have a well balanced meal...meat, veggies, grain, etc. Everything from tacos to meatloaf, pork loins to roast, grilled cheese and tomato soup to spaghetti, homemade enchiladas to shrimp salsa, stir fry to homemade pizza, etc...you get the idea. Regular, home cooked meals...and when America ate this way, instead of at restaurants and McDonald's on a regular basis, we didn't have the problem with obesity.

Snacks are yogurt, fruits, cheese sticks, cereal, rice cakes, air popped popcorn, etc.

But ALL that being said, NO one is perfect and you don't have to be! Did I buy my kids a box of Mike and Ike's today at the grocery store? YUP! Do we have frozen yogurt in the freezer? YUP!! Did I buy a bag of mini marshmallows because my toddler asked? YUP!! Did I buy two candy bars and hide them above the sink for myself later? SURE DID! (Oh, I went grocery shopping today.) :) There is nothing wrong with this stuff...in moderation. Do I keep it on hand...as in, if I run out, do I make it a point to buy more? No. I buy a set amount of "treats" once a month, and when they are gone, they are gone.

Please don't feel guilty. If you slowly make small changes, within a few months you will see a big difference. You're doing fine!

**I do want to add that you can absolutely take strides not to have an entire day full of fast food, processed garbage, SUGAR added to milk, and juice. I realize we all have our off days...I mean, I'll grab the cereal too if we have somewhere to go and I'm in a hurry...but people can make a huge difference by using common sense...i.e. not adding sweetener to milk, or cramming snack after snack in between meals. I get the impression that this isn't your issue!!! :) I honestly get the impression that you understand and implement a well balanced diet for your children.

And I DO want to go scarf down a bag of tortilla chips. I do that, occasionally. ;)

6 moms found this helpful

We don't eat organic. My son hates almost all vegetables but will take one bite at dinner because that is our house rule. I won't force him to eat them all as long as he takes ONE good bite.

We eat a lot of fruits, and I always have fresh produce and cook pretty much every night during the week.

Today, for instance:
Breakfast was eggs and toast.
Lunch was half a PB & J and some greek yogurt with sliced peaches.
Tonight was a lazy dinner on my part and I cut up a chicken breast and dusted it in some flour before cooking it in a pan as "nuggets" which my son ate with ketchup, I made some quick mac and cheese (velveeta melted over veggie noodles), and boiled some green beans in the water while the pasta was cooking because I was too lazy to steam them. I was able to go simple for my son since I had leftovers for my husband and I.

I do sometimes have frozen chicken nuggets in the house (Trader Joe's or the dinosaur ones) as a convenience, and I always have a couple boxes of Kraft mac and cheese on hand (though my kid won't usually eat it, my husband does). I don't keep a lot of bad stuff in the house (no juice, very little processed stuff other than the Kraft Mac & Cheese, and lately, velveeta because my son will eat mac and cheese if I make it with velveeta), I always buy whole wheat bread and have lots of fresh fruits and veggies. If I buy the "easy" stuff I will do it every single night out of laziness, so I guess I sort of force myself to cook by not buying it.

However - I have ONE kid and I stay home so cooking a "real" meal every night isn't too difficult (I spend about an hour each day cooking because I enjoy having dinner on the table when my husband gets home and eating as a family). My kid helps me cook a lot and I think that's important, so when I make bread or something he helps me knead it or roll it out. BUT - My kid eats too many "treats" like marshmallows, those dried fruit leather things AND we do go out to eat about twice a week at places like Corner Bakery or a burger joint which basically means oil city.

I know lots of people who feed their kids like hamsters. One of them in particular drives me insane because he acts like he is starving and is always stealing my son's lunch at the park or playplace (and I mean, like, grabbing handfuls and shoving it into his mouth like a wild child). As long as your kids aren't overweight or underweight or looking malnourished, you're doing it right. You try when you can, but life isn't always a portrait out of the 1950's "Being a good housewife" magazine and sometimes you just need to shove some McDonald's down your kid's gut so you can get to where you need to be and stop the whining. Plus, I find that the more a mom talks about organic this or that or making their own goldfish crackers (I tried this once, I don't recommend it), the less likely it is that it's truly a lifestyle and not just a current craze. If you stress about every meal every day, you're going to get burned out. It sounds like you're making healthy choices when you can, and that's all any of us can do!

5 moms found this helpful

Eh...kids need a little junk. They'd go crazy for it when they can get get it themselves, otherwise. I'd say we eat healthy 90% of the time. I get all our fruits, veggies, and meats through an organic co-op, or from a natural store. (I have family there, so I get a good discount!) BUT, I have one child, I stay at home, and my husband is home a lot. I have no good reason not to do so. I have time to do this, and I've begun to realize how much of a luxury that really is. Not everyone has the luxury of time, in fact...most don't. If it makes you feel any better, if I had more kids...I'd be so stressed, that I would just throw boxes of stuff at them, and be curled in the fetal position all day!!! I can't even comprehend how people with more then one child get anything done, let alone feed their family. Sounds like you're doing fine, mom. Don't be so hard on yourself!! Life is busy, we all just do what we can. You sound normal and totally OK.

5 moms found this helpful

I figure my kids are pretty blessed to have 3 square meals a day and two snacks. So as long as they are getting something in their little bodies to keep the moving, I'm good. Let go of all of the rest of it - don't compare yourself and your family to others.

5 moms found this helpful

There is no proof that eating organic is in anyway better than eating regular old food. To me diet is all about balance. I try to serve a vegetable or salad with every dinner.. but some nights.. (like last night) the kids have an activity and we dont get home until 630 so we have a quick frozen pizza for dinner. My kids are basicly healthy.. they are tall and skinny. They get an average amount of kid viruses that go around the school.

On a good day they get 3 fruits and 2 veggies in a day. But most days it is 2 fruits adn 1 veggie.. some days are worse..

Dont worry.. your kids are fine.. you didnt eat organic as a child and you survived..

4 moms found this helpful

something needs to be done about those girl scouts! the got me too:( and i didnt feel like cooking this week since my hubs is out of town, so its pretty much been takeout ALL WEEK! except last night i made salmon, as requested by my son. Normally, yea we do eat pretty healthy, but hey we are all human cant be perfect all the time. you sound like an awesome parent! keep up the good work!

4 moms found this helpful

All things in moderation. NO ONE is perfect with their kids!!

Unless there are health reasons to do so, I've read that going gluten-free is actually *less* healthy because they have to process the food to make it gluten free, vs eating whole grains.

Just do the best you can - that's all any of us can do.

4 moms found this helpful

Heck I actually let my kids have soda sometimes and I still think they eat pretty healthy. Let's see, today me and my three kids shared a big breakfast at McDonalds bc we needed to get out of the house and have a little play date. We got home and they were hungry and tired so they asked for a small bowl of lucky charms as a snack, they were gobbling it down so well I refilled the bowls, gave everyone half a banana and called it lunch! I need to grocery shop and managed to run out of fruit so, snack today was just milk with stevia drops and some pretzel goldfish i think and dinner was Mac n cheese and a side of broccoli, the steam in the bag kind :). On the way to my oldest martial arts class everyone had a cookie and after it was those packages of crackers where u spread that salty cheese all over them with a stick and apple juice. So...um...I think I can safely say you are not alone!! We definitely have days that are waaaaay healthier than that, but hey a junkie say now and then isn't the end of the world IMO :).

4 moms found this helpful

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