Tough Love When It Comes to Kids’ Meals

fennelSince my blog is about entrepreneurial moms, I’m writing about the food that I cook for my boys. Making meals is a big part of what I do each day. From breakfast at 7:00am to dinner at 6:00pm, meal planning, shopping, cooking, and serving are all very important aspects of my daily life.

Tonight, my former neighbor Holly Ladd, posted an article on Facebook that was about a recent study out of Scotland that showed that kids who ate what their parents ate were healthier than those who were served “kid-friendly” alternatives.


I’m not sure that a study was needed to figure this out, but it highlights a very important issue that is causing many kids to eat unhealthy diets. This is a topic that too few people really want to address. Why? …Probably because so many of us think of cooking for a family as a hassle. Laziness has become accepted, and so have overweight kids. I’m sure I’m going to get some backlash for saying this, but I truly believe that the obesity epidemic is closely tied to the availability of restaurants and take-out food.  Home cooked food, even if it’s not low fat or organic, is typically less caloric and less laden with salt, fat, and preservatives than prepared food that’s available in restaurants and grocery stores.

As a parent who loves to cook, I’m always interested in the topic of food and kids, and I’ve long been a proponent of serving kids more than fried chicken fingers, pepperoni pizza, fruit roll-ups, and juice boxes.

I, along with everyone my age or older, grew up eating what was served to them. There were no other options. Mom made Swiss steak, we ate it. It was stew on Thursday, we ate it. Chung King chow mein out of the can, we ate it.

Perhaps you could feel a bit sorry for my boys because I’ve taken a somewhat tough love approach when it comes to making meals.  But, the boys, now 6 and 9, have become adventurous eaters that identify and enjoy a wide variety of food. I weathered through the difficult years of finickiness and have come out the other side with two boys who are pretty darn sophisticated when it comes to what they eat.

Introducing foods to kids is no easy undertaking. It’s a royal pain in the ass. Sure, it’s easier to throw Tyson chicken fingers and some French fries on a plate and call it a day. But, isn’t this poor parenting?

Rex even has food limitations with a life-threatening food allergy. But, he has found a wide array of options that he can eat that surpass the kid-approved standards. He’s always game to try a new type of fish, and he’s been itching to sample chitterlings ever since seeing a show about “soul food” on the Food Channel. Ok, pig intestines might not be the healthiest food, but I’ll give him an A+ for culinary adventure.

Judd loves peppers, Mexican food, roast chicken, and the taste of fresh herbs. And, they both delight in artichokes, avocados, crab, and countless other foods that have nothing to do with the standard, bland foods that kids supposedly prefer.

I say cook your kids real meals!  It just may be the most important things you can do for them. Long after they outgrow Little League, ballet class, and play dates, they’ll be left with their palate. Nurture it while they’re young and establish good, adventurous eating habits as early as possible to enjoy a lifetime of wonderful meals with them!

Song of the Day: 

Artichoke, Cibo Matto


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2 responses to “Tough Love When It Comes to Kids’ Meals

  1. I’m failing at this! My 9yo is a very picky eater. I’ve threatened for years to stop maing her food separately but it’s been empty threats. Something’s got to give because my 2yo does everything her big sister does. Yikes. Great post!

    • It really helped when I got the boys interested in cooking over the summer. They actually enjoy picking out recipes. I’m sure she’ll get there soon.

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