Chicago moms have lots of questions when it comes to making sure their kids get all the nutrition they need. Not only do they worry about what their kids are eating, they are interested in making dinner less stressful.
For answers, we turned to the nutrition experts at Yumble. Yumble is a weekly healthy kids meals subscription service that delivers meals right to the doors of busy parents, removing the stress of cooking (and cleaning) lunches and dinners for busy families.
My kids make meals a disaster, how do I make it more fun?
The first step to making mealtime with your kids fun is to not stress! As parents, our stress and desire for mealtime to be a certain way negatively impacts the mood around the table. If you’re calm and having fun the kids will, too. Bring a book or something fun from your day to chat about with your kids. Making mealtime about things other than what is and isn’t being eaten can be a big step towards avoiding disaster!
How can I get nutritious foods into macaroni and cheese and hotdogs so my kid will eat them?
If you feel your children are not eating enough veggies or certain nutrients, pureeing them into soups and sauces is a great way of getting them what they are missing. For example, you can add anything from cauliflower to white beans to butternut squash into your cheese sauce for macaroni and cheese without impacting the flavor. It is important, though, for kids to realize that they DO like veggies and fruits, so be sure to also serve veggies in their natural forms and give them time to enjoy them that way as well. It may take a few tries, so don’t give up!
How can I limit sugar with my kids?
The best and most practical way to limit sugar for kids is to have lower-sugar snacks ready as alternatives to high-sugar snacks (snacks are where kids get their added sugars, and sugars that they really don’t need). If mealtime is balanced and healthy, then including snacks that are packed with protein will reduce their sugar intake. I always have a plate of veggies with either guacamole or hummus for my kids when they get home from school. And of course, water, water, water – just eliminate juices and sodas! Of course there will be days that have more sugar than others (like birthdays and celebrations) but spreading those days out will help limit sugar intake.
My kids (11 and 14) are so picky! Most of the advice I can find is for younger kids and I need advice, too!
The older kids get the harder in some ways it is to break bad eating habits. Talk to them like adults and explain why it is important that they expand their palettes and try new foods. Being rational and making sense of healthy eating habits, rather than just forcing or giving in, is really important as children get older.
My biggest problem is sending the same lunch every day to school, any suggestions to shake it up?
Start each week by asking what they would like this week for lunch and dinner. This way they feel some ownership and control, and know what to expect. Some fun lunches to try are build-your-own sandwiches, deconstructed tacos (great to use leftovers for this!), and pasta salads with different beans, cheeses and dried fruits.
What are the best methods to convince my picky eater to eat healthy foods?
Talking to kids about picky eating looks different at every age. One thing to remember at any age though, is that children like to feel in control so engaging in a battle about the food is not going to end well! Try saying things like, “this may not be your favorite meal, but do you think you could take one bite?” and “Since this doesn’t seem to be your favorite, what would you like me to make tomorrow for dinner that you would enjoy more?” Making it rational and calm, but holding your ground, is an important balance.
How do I know if my children are getting all the nutrition they need?
Instead of getting bogged down by specific nutrients, focus on the food groups: fruits, vegetables, meat and meat alternatives, grains and dairy. Following the MyPlate pattern, about half the plate should be fruits and vegetables, a quarter should be whole grains, and a quarter should be protein (either meat or meat alternatives), with milk or a fortified milk-alternative drink on the side. By eating a variety of each food group over the course of week, your child will get the nutrition he or she needs. Don’t worry if your child refuses to eat vegetables one day, if he or she gets all of the food groups over the course of a week. And of course, if you’re ever concerned that your child isn’t getting the nutrition they need, ask your doctor. They can check your child’s growth charts, blood levels, and refer you to a dietitian if needed.
How can I get my kids more involved in healthy eating?
So many fun ways!! Try involving your kids in menu planning and grocery shopping. Take your children to the produce aisles of a supermarket or farmers market and let them pick a few fruits and vegetables. Then, browse for recipes together that you can make as a family. And if you don’t have time to do that, you can simply talk with them about the veggies they chose – explaining why they are healthy and important parts of our diet.
I need quick meals because we don’t have time for a sit-down meal every night. Any suggestions?
Yumble! It’s meant for exactly those kind of nights – when you want something healthy, nutritious, and ready-to-eat but don’t have the time. All of the dinners are ready in under 90 seconds and can be taken along if it’s an on-the-go kind of night.