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Are We Just Preaching to the Healthy Eating Choir?

cole bday.jpg
I admit it - sometimes, I just get tired of talking about the importance of healthy eating. I spend alot of time every day working with early child care centers, and their teachers and staff, trying to convince them that kids can eat - and enjoy - vegetables.  Sometimes it feels like the work is making a difference -- recently, for example, when I went to pick up my son at the preschool where I piloted the First Bites program, I was just delighted to see them making their own fruit skewers. A few days later, they made sweet potato coconut balls, from scratch, for afternoon snack. And then yesterday, they were eating canned fruit. No, it's certainly not the worst thing in the world, but we've talked about the benefits of fresh fruit and how frozen fruit is a great alternative over fruit in syrup. If I'm being honest, the canned fruit might just have caught me in a moment of frustration. 
This week, Spoonfed: Raising Kids to Think about the Food they Eat  wrote a great post on parents, and how oftentimes parents are the biggest barrier to changing how children eat. I agree that parents can be real road blocks and teachers, too, make it hard to make change and create an environment where children want to eat fruits and vegetables. I've definitely had teachers tell me that the children prefer cupcakes to carrot smoothies, when it's clear that it's the teachers who prefer making and eating the cupcakes. 
We all talk about the importance of giving children a strong and healthy foundation...and that children are eating way more sugar than they should be...and that we should avoid food dyes... and that it'd be better for everyone to eat less processed food and more real food. But some days, it just feels like we are talking to ourselves. Sometimes it feels like those messages just aren't changing how many parents and teachers are thinking and acting. And that is frustrating.
And then this week, a reader told me how, at her son's preschool, the new norm had become bringing in pizza AND cupcakes for each child's birthday. She decided to buck the trend and made these gorgeous fruit skewers, with watermelon stars, strawberries and grapes. She didn't tell anyone or make a big deal out of it, she just did it. And the kids loved it. Sometimes, I think, we should talk less and do more. 
  • What a fantastic idea. We sit and eat together. But only let kids serve themselves for certain meals. They are the best meals. Lots of interaction and fun.
    by Elaine
    Wed, 23 Jul 2014 00:40:33 GMT
  • Why didn't I think of that! We often do this with rice paper rolls, tacos or sushi. The trouble is everyone being together to eat at the same time x Great work...I will endeavour to try this approach. My 7 yr old has major food phobias and I have seriously considered taking him to a therapist. He is ananphylaxtic to all nuts so getting him to try new foods has been a major battle and as my oldest child I want him to broaden his diet for his sake and as a good roll model for his younger brother.
    by Jo
    Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:44:13 GMT
  • I love what your organization is doing. I have a young child in preschool and am concerned about the type of snacks the kids are served and the never ending birthday treats each week.
    by Alice
    Tue, 11 Nov 2014 02:07:36 GMT
  • Great post Caron! And terrific piece on the Huffington Post. I'm tweeting, signing, and sharing. Thanks also for including my sample script in your post.
    by Sally Kuzemchak
    Thu, 17 Jul 2014 19:16:54 GMT
  • #Halloween is almost here & you want your #kids to indulge into #healthy lifestyle.Visit #DrinkBlocks- Its a drink, zero calories, zero sugar, no artificial colors and rich in Vitamin C. http://www.kidsnaturalflavoredwater.com/
    by Megha
    Thu, 30 Oct 2014 19:09:54 GMT
  • I would love to read the weekly feedback.
    by Nattana Johnson
    Tue, 14 Oct 2014 19:26:09 GMT
  • I also make a lot of lentil soup for my vegan 13 year-old son. Last night I took plain cooked lentils and made a stew, starting with a big cast iron pot. I added cubed butternut squash, cumin, turmeric, and some veggie broth, cooked a little, then added the cooked green lentils with fresh ginger and a jar of marinara sauce. It was an excellent stew served over brown rice. Stews are very easy and make for a good meal on a very cold night.
    by June
    Tue, 27 Jan 2015 17:16:14 GMT
  • We make a big pot of lentil soup 1 a week freeze half. I send it to school with my kids for lunch and they love it. I try and season it various ways to make it more interesting and appealing. Sometimes it's Italian seasoning with tomatoes and grated parmesan cheese and other times it's spicy and flavored like their favorite tacos with some cumin and chili pepper.
    by Jacqueline
    Wed, 25 Mar 2015 18:42:33 GMT

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