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Advice Column: Feeding Kids Right

By Noor Hani Salem, TMO


Questions: While I try eating healthy I find it very difficult doing the same for my kids. Not only are they picky, I don’t know what options are good for snacks and school lunch.  



It’s not easy feeding kids right, not with the 21st century expansion of fast food, “kids” snacks, and the vending machines at school. Kids see advertisement for Happy Meals, and of course smiling children aside that on the billboard. They see giant supermarkets full of aisles and aisles of things they perceive as food. They see snacks and junk being sold at school, and they are fascinated to buy some too.

How can we deal with picky kids? Well, start with knowledge. If the only vegetables your kids know are Veggiechips and the only fruit are fruit roll ups, well we have a serious issue. Begin at the root, as you teach your child right from wrong; allow them to distinguish what’s healthy and what’s not good for them. 

Take your child shopping, and have them pick out the fruits and vegetables they like. If they are young, let them do the part of writing the shopping list, and make it as much as an enjoyable experience as possible.  I took my younger sister strawberry picking and the fact that she picked pounds and pounds of strawberries meant she wanted to make something with them too. As soon as we got home guess who asked for strawberries?

Letting your child prepare meals and snacks or at least watch you do so can help too. Let them know what whole foods are making their snack, and allow them to join you.

Have your child make strawberry banana smoothies, toss in some peanut butter for a protein and monounsaturated fat boost.

Bake some homemade loaf bread and make homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  Make pancakes and instead of pouring syrup all over them, make a face using fresh fruit. This definitely worked with my youngest sister (see picture) – the Queen of picky eaters.

When it comes to school lunches, it’s not as easy. It seems like chips, processed cookies and crackers, and Poptarts are the easiest snacks –since they don’t perish and smash and get warm by the time lunch comes around. But no, there are ways to incorporate healthy eating in school lunches. If your child is packing lunch, have them make a schedule with you for what they like to eat. Toss in a banana, apple, or tangerine- these fruits don’t perish as others. Washed grapes work well in a tuber ware too. Slice up cucumbers, broccoli, and other raw veggies as a snack. Make sure to have proteins, like nut butters, and whole grains to keep them full.  100% Whole Wheat pasta topped with homemade marinara sauce and some protein (chicken or meat-organic when possible!) is a perfect option.  Packing lunch is much better than having your child see hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken nuggets in the school lunch line. Side that with fried potatoes, pudding for dessert, and sugary chocolate milk- you have yourself a child who will sugar crash.  Only pack your children healthy options for snack time, because if you pack a banana and Pringles, well you know which one is coming back home. 

Most importantly, you can’t be convincing your child to eat healthy while they see junk food in the closet. At times you may have to sneak the veggies and beans into their snacks, as I did with my blackbean brownies. If the adults around me had no clue there were beans in the batter, why would a child know?

So, taking your child shopping, allowing them to prepare meals, and only providing them with good options is a great start to healthy eating. Good luck.

For more kids-friendly brownies and snacks check out my blog at:  blackbeanbrownies.wordpress.com


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