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When people find out that I can’t smell they typically assume that it’s easy for me to diet or that I would eat totally healthy since I can’t really taste it. Actually, the opposite is true. My “taste” is based a LOT off of the way things feel. And healthy foods don’t always have the best texture (bananas…yuck!). I have always been a pretty picky eater. Well, not just pretty. I’ve always been a legit picky eater.
I knew that I wanted to break the picky eating cycle with my own children. Zach is a much better eater than I am, but still not that well rounded. While I grew up eating a lot of processed foods (granola bars, mac and cheese, etc) he grew up eating a lot of country-cooked stuff. It may appear healthy but with all the butter and salt that they add to everything it quickly becomes unhealthy. Zach never has liked fruits, at all. And I’m the same way. But I also am not a big vegetable fan.
It’s REALLY HARD to change your eating habits. It’s hard to be motivated to do it, ya know? When we got pregnant with Kye I knew I wanted things to be different for him. I wanted to do my personal best to help him have healthier eating habits and enjoy healthy foods in the way that Zach and I never have. However, I also had NO CLUE how to go about doing it.
I chose to breastfeed Kye from birth. It was not an easy thing for me to do but I knew it was what was BEST for him so I did it. And it got much better. I nursed him exclusively until I started solids and I didn’t introduce formula until he was close to ten months old. I weaned him from the breast at 10 months old and had enough frozen breast milk to do a combo of breast milk and formula every day until he was about a year old when we switched him to whole milk.
Introducing solids was EXTREMELY stressful for me. I felt a LOT of pressure. Not really from anyone in particular, more from the media. Which is random…but it seemed like every day I was getting stuff in the mail about introducing solids from the time he hit 3 months old. I felt like he needed it when really, he didn’t. I ended up introducing solids (rice cereal was the first food) when he was 4 1/2 months old. Here’s my post about it.
After a visit to the walk-in clinic and a talk with he-who-cannot-be-named I decided to stop feeding Kye solids and waited until he was about 5 1/2 months old to re-introduce the rice cereal. I followed everything that Babywise said regarding solids. I trust Babywise and felt comfortable with it and, as a first time parent, was just so nervous about messing up somehow!!! Here’s the post about the re-introduction of solids.
When deciding how to feed Kye baby food, I went with store bought. I trusted it more than making the food myself. I felt like it was the best option and I slowly introduced Kye to each thing. Taking many days to spread them out to check him for any reactions. I also introduced all the vegetables first before any of the fruits because I read babies won’t like vegetables if you do fruit first. Here’s the post covering all the introductions of vegetables into Kye’s diet.
Kye LOVED baby food. He ate and ate and ate. It wasn’t ever an issue to get him to eat. He enjoyed it. I felt like it was the healthiest option for him (I know, I was totally fooled by all the ads huh?) but I never did enjoy the whole process of it. I didn’t like having to sit with him and feed him. I didn’t like how stressful it was to go out to eat or to someone elses house. I didn’t like worrying and stressing over if he was eating enough or too much or what he needed as far as nutrition was concerned. I just always felt stressed about it.
I also noticed a milk supply issue with myself. He ate SO MUCH baby food that I felt like my supply was decreasing. I started to regulate his solid intake more and cut back on how much I allowed him to eat. I felt guilt depriving him of the food he enjoyed, but knew that breast milk was still supposed to be his main source of nutrition for the first year. Here’s the post I wrote on my decreased milk supply (which IS normal to happen when you introduce solids since technically it’s the beginning of the weaning process).
At around 7 months old I started to give Kye finger foods. I considered the Gerber baby snacks to be the best thing for him to try since they were made especially for babies. I didn’t like the idea of giving him any “real” food for fear he would choke or that it wouldn’t work with the nutrition he needed. Spoiler alert: I’ve TOTALLY changed my opinion on this now 😉
Around 8 months old, while we were in Mexico, I gave him his first fresh fruit. We used one of those baby food holder things to give it to him. It had a mesh little bag for the food to go in so he could “eat” it but not get any chunks of it or choke. He LOVED melon, didn’t like banana. I started using this more often but was still nervous about any legit pieces of food. Here’s a post on the finger foods and his first “real” food experiences.
When Kye was about 8 months old I read an article in a parenting magazine that completely altered my viewpoint about solid foods. I wanted my child to enjoy healthy eating and I realized I hadn’t been doing the best steps to help him meet that goal. I started changing how I did things and began introducing him to pieces of “real” food. I still fed him baby food and treated the “real” food as just something fun and a bonus. If you’re reading this post, DO NOT cut up the food as small as I did. It’s actually better (which I now know) to cut things in long stick like pieces for the baby to grab and hold and eat on their own. Small pieces = easy to choke on! Here’s the post about the life changing article I read.
I did not enjoy the “real” food process. I preferred baby food because I felt like I could better measure how much he was eating and better control the nutrition he was getting. I felt overwhelmed with the “real” food. I wasn’t sure where to start or what to give him or how to give it to him. It was all so stressful. Can you tell the entire feeding process of solids was NOT a joy for me??? I talked more about my feelings on it in this monthly post. You have to scroll down to see the part I’m referring to 🙂
At 8 months old his favorite was watermelon…at 3 years old he STILL loves it like crazy 😉
When Kye was almost 10 months old I saw on the babywise blog that someone mentioned the book Baby Led Weaning. I ordered it and I read practically the entire thing in one sitting. That nutrition article I mentioned earlier opened my eyes, but this book totally changed my entire outlook. I immediately stopped feeding Kye baby food and switched to all “legit” food all the time. I often tell people that I was an “easy to convert Christian” because as soon as I actually READ the Bible it all totally clicked with me and I KNEW it was the way I was meant to live my life. Same with Babywise. It just made sense to me and felt comfortable for me as a guide to use in parenting. The same has been true with Baby Led Weaning. Following it made me at peace with giving Kye solids and helped me understand more about healthy eating as a whole. It inspired me to do better and has helped me to feed Kye healthier. I knew I’d be only using it when it came time for Baby #2 to eat solids. 🙂 Here’s the post I wrote when I first read Baby Led Weaning.
When Kye turned one I knew that it was time to readjust his schedule and, since he was drinking whole milk, also change the way he ate solids yet again. After 1 years old, what a child eats IS what is providing them their nourishment. No more breast milk meant that the importance of healthy eating became an even greater priority. I was stressed about this transition and eventually developed my own version of a “toddler food pyramid.” I wrote this blog entry all about what a child at 1 years old needs to eat, what I fed Kye at that age, and a lot of the reasons why I do and don’t feed him certain things (like juice).
Kye was almost 18 months old before I started giving him larger slices of food. IF I had done a better job of fully reading Baby Led Weaning then I would have known to cut things in the “finger” shape from the beginning and it would have prevented the one scary choking incident we had. Here’s the post I wrote about giving him larger food pieces.
It’s funny to me and look back and see how LONG it took us to let Kye be adventurous with food!!! 18 months old?!?! Wow! We treat Brittlynn very differently, as you’ll be seeing in my next couple of posts. Kye was a pretty good eater as a toddler! I continued to focus on the “toddler food pyramid” I had semi-created myself and did a LOT of sneaking vegetables into everything he ate whenever possible.
Enjoying corn on the cob
At 18 months old Kye did great with using sign language (for “more” and “all done”) and also had mastered “praying” as well as had started doing a pretty good job using utensils. At this age I had to get really sneaky with the vegetables as he started being more picky. 🙁 Here’s the blog post I wrote covering his 18 month old summary.
Starting to use utensils, and enjoying making a mess!
Most toddlers typically love carbs and Kye was no different, he enjoyed bread (and still does) as well as all different types of crackers and pastas.
No longer using the high chair around 20 months old.
We move into our new house close to Kye’s 2nd birthday. At this point in his life he was still on the same track of eating that he had been at 1 years old. I always focused on getting him to eat vegetables since he wasn’t a big fan of them. Fruit was still something he LOVED and he would eat any type of fruit I put in front of him. He also loved peanut butter and it was probably his favorite food, along with bread!
I felt very disappointed that Kye didn’t enjoy vegetables. But I read a great article From the August 2010 issue of Parents magazine that made me feel much more at ease about it. This article discussed That MOST kids who hate vegetables will love fruit. It said that fruit is a great alternative for vegetables and that as long as your child is eating a wide variety of fruits with many different color combinations (which Kye does!) then they are getting pretty much the same nutrients they would be getting from vegetables. Some examples: Strawberries have as much B vitamin folate as broccoli and both are also packed with heart-smart plant compounds called lignans. Kiwi offers many of the same benefits as romaine lettuce such as vitamin K, potassium, and heart-healthy soluble fiber. Kiwi also has more immune-boosting vitamin C than most any fruit or vegetable! Watermelon offers similar amounts of vitamins A and C as tomatoes and packs twice as much of the plant compound lycopene which is known for fighting cancer and prevent asthma attacks. Plums and eggplant are both packed with anthocyanins which may help prevent canecer and improve cholesterol levels. They also both contain chlorogenic and caffeic acids (which may help improve the immune system and keep bones strong). Kye loves ALL of these fruits as well as many, many more (literally, I have yet to find one he doesn’t enjoy). Reading this article gave me peace in knowing that he’s still getting the benefits of vegetables through eating fruits.
I got more creative, using lots of “sneaky chef” meals to sneak in vegetables whenever I could. These popsicles have vegetables in them!
I also snuck them into smoothies which he adored!
Kye is now a “preschooler” and once I got pregnant with Brittlynn I do feel like my hardcore ways with his eating have slacked some. I also feel he’s given a LOT more “junk” than I would like from outside sources. It seems like there’s always a special occasion now. A birthday party. Some function at school. Some reason why he has a treat or some candy. I don’t like it but I don’t want to deprive him of those types of things either. I do my best to find a balance the best way that I can!
For breakfast Kye has pretty much the same thing every morning. He eats two prunes, 1/2 banana, some whole grain cheerios, white skim milk, and a multivitamin. I still work hard to give him vegetables but he’s become even more picky. We have to tell him to eat them and tell them “how many bites” to eat. I don’t bribe him with treats, but will tell him he can’t have “such and such” (usually a dinner roll at dinner time or more milk or fruit or something he wants to eat) until he eats so many bites of everything on his plate. Zach and I both don’t believe in forcing a child to clean their plate. I think that belief is why our culture struggles with obesity today!!! Instead, we want Kye to at least TRY everything he is given. He may gag doing it, but he does do it!!!
I have never believed in giving Kye juice. He LOVES fruit so he doesn’t need it in a drink form and I also don’t like how many of the juices out there have so much added sugar. I try to be label conscious. I am no scientist. I don’t know much about nutrition, but I try. I read labels. I try my best to choose wisely when making a purchase. One of his favorite snacks is fruit snacks and I try to make sure to buy the brands that have actual fruit as the first listed ingredient. In an effort to get Kye to eat more vegetables I have started offering juice. He drinks maybe 8 oz a day and I give him a blend of Naked Juice Green Machine (LOADED with fruits and tons of veges) with V8 Fushion (also has vegetables in it…much healthier than the V8 Splash as well, at least from what I can gather doing my own research on it!). He’s yet to have sweet tea, chocolate milk, or even a sip of soda. He doesn’t even know what the term soda (or coke) means. I don’t think he knows chocolate milk exists. He also doesn’t eat condiments. Ketchup is FULL of salt and I figure why add that kind of stuff if he doesn’t even know it’s available to him?
I don’t feel like I’m depriving him of anything. He enjoys treats now and then. I rarely bake but when I do he’ll eat a couple of cookies for dessert. He drinks juice boxes at birthday parties. He has a sucker after swim lessons. We eat out on occasion. Zach and I are both big believers in eating at home and I cook a home cooked meal probably 4-6 nights a week. But when we get fast food Kye does get fries. And I’m okay with that. Again, it’s about a balance to me and I feel like as long as he’s given healthy choices majority of the time then we’re doing pretty good!!!
Kye is still on a very set schedule and eats three meals a day. I don’t believe in allowing him to graze all day long so if he says he’s hungry then he has to wait until the next meal. He can have water at any time of the day though as I WISH I was better about drinking it myself! He will get a snack after his nap in the afternoons if he sleeps well and is quiet in his bed when he wakes up. I have a snack box in the pantry that he’s allowed to choose from. Again, it’s a mix of the “least bad for you” individually wrapped snacks I could find 😉
A BIG blessing to me has been Plum Organics. I was reading up online about ways to get Kye to eat vegetables and saw that someone mentioned their toddler drinking them. They are actually pureed baby food! It’s 100% organic and 100% straight baby food. I bought them and Kye LOVES them. He drinks 3/4-1 of them a day! I feel much better knowing that he’s getting a portion, or more, of vegetables just by drinking these. They have become so popular that there are MANY off brands on the market. I just make sure to read the labels and only buy the ones with vegetables in them…he still eats a WIDE variety of fruit so I don’t have to worry about being sneaky with that 😉 I even call them “veggie drinks” and he drinks them right up!
Yogurt raisins are his favorite! No, he didn’t eat all of these 😉
Snack box for after nap
Special treat! Zaxby’s for dinner!
Some little ways I try to have him eat healthier: I mix his fresh fruit with cottage cheese, I only use whole wheat bread and always give him sandwiches with the crust, I use preserves over jelly as it has less sugar, I use fresh fruit and will freeze some to make it last longer, I rarely use anything canned and try to limit all processed foods as much as possible, We have completely switched over to organic milk and it’s all we drink, We drink skim milk including Kye, I never give Kye anything with aspartame in it, I use Naked Juice and V8 Fushion, He loves Plum Organics, I used Flinstone multivitamins for him, We don’t give him a dinner roll at the start of a meal instead he has to eat a certain amount of his dinner before getting one, He only drinks white milk water and my special mix of juice, and I just continue to offer things to him and at least have them try them even if he doesn’t like it!
And, YES, we do share a love of ice cream on occasion 😉
Even with what I do to get Kye to eat healthy, he doesn’t enjoy it. If you asked him his favorite food he’d say “Chik-Fil-A and donuts and ice cream and cookies.” Awesome. Part of me feels like I have failed and he’s only three! I thought he’d still be in a little bubble at this point only eating the stuff I fed him. But that’s not the way it is and I’ve accepted that. I continually remind myself of my parenting priorities and try not to stress over it too much. I do my best and I hope that, with time, he’ll enjoy healthy eating more. I know that we’re at a critical age where he would eat better if he saw ZACH and I eating healthier! He asks to share our breakfasts and of course our cereal or breakfast bars or something are yummier than his prunes and banana. I’m hoping that I can start eating healthier as I know if I do it then the whole family will follow my lead!
What ways do YOU get your toddler/preschooler to eat healthy????? I would LOVE some suggestions in this area!!!! Also I’d love to know if there are any tips to help our family as a whole have a better, healthier lifestyle…don’t go crazy though…I need some easy stuff that will still taste pretty good haha 😉