We started out right: organic vegetables and fruit I had pureed myself, whole grain teething biscuits, freeze-dried mango for snacks. But as our girl began to grow and explore, she sampled a whole world of toddler delicacies (puffs, anyone?) and developed a more refined – OK, picky – palate. She got cookies at daycare, ice cream at parties… is any of this sounding familiar? And I don’t know about you, but somewhere along the way, convenience started to win. As a busy mom, I didn’t have time to whip up my own heirloom strawberry fruit leathers every weekend, let alone shave my legs every other day – fish crackers and fruit gummies were quick and easy, so that’s what I started buying more and more of. And as I bought more of them, that’s what she began to crave and expect, and into the vicious cycle we went. And then it was Christmas, and then Valentine’s Day, and then Easter… the candy! Does it ever stop?
Needing some ideas and information, I started poking around online, searching for tips on how to help your child make healthy food choices. That’s when I discovered First 5 San Diego, and not a moment too soon; it was exactly the resource I was looking for. Check out these simple steps you can take that can make a huge difference in your child’s lifestyle (I started using the “Use smaller plates & bowls” one immediately and loved it):
- Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and veggies add color, flavor and texture plus vitamins, minerals and fiber to your plate. Make two cups of fruit and two and a half cups of vegetables your daily goal. The more color, the better.
- Make at least half your grains whole.
Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Check the ingredients list on food packages to find whole-grain foods.
- Watch Portion Sizes
Use smaller plates, bowls and glasses to help you keep portions under control. Use half your plate for fruits and vegetables and the other half for grains and lean meat, poultry, seafood or beans. To complete the meal, add a glass of fat-free or low-fat milk or a serving of fat-free yogurt for dessert. To help you keep your meal balanced with the right portion sizes, visit www.choosemyplate.gov
- Drink more water
Drink more water over sweetened beverages like fruit juice or soda. Water helps to regulate body temperature, transport nutrients and oxygen to cells, carry away waste products and more.
Thanks to First 5 San Diego, I realized juice needed to take a hike, so I stopped buying it and bought our girl a reusable water bottle instead. I braced for a backlash, but she’s never even mentioned it and happily refills her water bottle (almost) every morning! I now keep tons of apples on hand and cucumbers too, since she loves them – every meal now includes either a fruit or a veggie, if not more. Those seedless mandarin oranges? She LOVES those, and so do I! And I found a sourdough bread that has whole grains in it, so that’s her sandwich bread these days. We eat more (no butter) popcorn and less crackers, and sorbet instead of ice cream. So far, so good. She still gets a sweet treat now and again – I don’t believe in completely denying her ALL sugar – but it’s in moderation.
She’s six now, so she’s more aware of what’s out there and what her choices are. I’m just doing my best to live a healthy lifestyle with her every day, so that will just be her “normal.” I’m so grateful to have found First 5 San Diego, too. It’s about so much more than just healthy living. Check it out when you get a chance! And while you’re at it, click over to Eat Right too. Bon Appetit!