The words “Can I Have a Snack” are coming out of your children’s mouths at an average of 50 times a day. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a tad but it probably feels like that- or more. It’s exhausting and sometimes we wonder if they really are even hungry, or just bored and want to bother us?
This time we are going to hit a pain point that many moms come to me with. Being super busy but wanting to provide the best snack options for their kids. Looking at the prep time for healthy snacks and being overwhelmed by it. Full time in an office or full time in your home, even part time can create the “when do I even have time for this?” feeling.
First, let me just tell you that the healthiest snacks require little to no prep. The simpler the item, the better. Your kids don’t care if you made it in the oven, rolled out 60 balls, sliced 25 bars, or hung from the ceiling while baking the world’s healthiest cookie. If you don’t ENJOY making homemade snacks and you don’t want to MAKE the time to create them, then DON’T do it. There isn’t a food cop watching you or even a Health Coach like me judging you. Listen, I don’t bake often. Pinterest and homemade snacks give me the sweats. So I just stay off Pinterest and I don’t look at 5 page blogs about homemade truffles with chia seeds. Even if the recipe takes “only” 30 minutes (because it never does), I just don’t want to do it. So I don’t. What do I do? Well, I like grabbing and going. I like things in the fridge that are ready and portable. How do I choose the best options- that will actually keep Brooklyn full and not asking me for a snack 20 minutes later? I focus on these key nutrients:
- Healthy Fats
- Complex Carbs & Fiber (veggies, fruits, & whole grains)
- Clean Protein
What are some examples?
- Cheese sticks
- Veggie crudités and dip (hummus, yogurt with dill, hummus and TJ’s pesto, already-made guac)
- Freeze Dried Fruit
- Whole Grain Crackers & Cheese
- Nut Butter & Smashed Fruit Sandwiches on Whole Grain
What’s awesome is that all of these are portable. Stick ‘em in a baggie or container, put them in a thermal, bring ‘em in the car. When you focus on the key nutrients I list above, you can relax and know that these will keep their tummies full, moods in check, blood sugar at an even level, and their energy high. There’s no contest going on here other than the one in our own head’s. So why not just cut the stress and keep it simple?
What snack ideas do you have that keep the peace and don’t stress you out? Share below!
I recently surveyed some moms asking them “How do you do it?” with an active schedule with their children. How do you provide nutrient-dense meals that are fast? What time do you eat? When do you prep? How do you do it when your spouse or partner has the opposite schedule- so you’re on your own? What happens when you get home from work at 5:15pm with your kids and there is a piano recital at 6:15pm? How do you make a meal in under 30 minutes that actually has flavor? What happens when one child has food allergies and the others don’t? Many moms wanted more quick snack grab ideas.
What else? Moms wanted to know more about stress and anxiety in their kids. Moods their children can have, along with the mom’s mood, came up. Meltdowns in not just the toddlers but also their older children. How to balance everything without feeling overwhelmed. Self-care time. How much does a mom play with her kids, and how much do you let them figure out how to play on their own? Where is the time to do everything a mom wants to?
There are no magic answers that will work for every family but there are ways we can all share our tips so we can try something and see what works. Or what doesn’t! It’s OK if it works for your friend Sally but doesn’t work for your family. Don’t stress about it- the right path will come to you.
Today we’ll tackle a simple topic of eating healthy when your kids are busy and you’re even busier. Busy is the word that comes out of moms’ mouths the most lately where I want to take the stress out of the word. Or at least lessen it a little. Below are 5 tips I have on how to eat the best way for your family with a crazy schedule.
- Make 3 ingredient meals. Many times the simpler the meal, the healthier the meal. It doesn’t have to be gourmet to be delicious and in my opinion, it can have more flavor. I love stuffing sweet potatoes with fiber-rich ingredients like beans and peas, top off with a dollop of plain yogurt. If you’re not doing dairy, a drizzle of avocado or olive oil for a healthy fat to keep your family full for a long time. Time saver? Bake the potatoes the night prior so all you have to do is microwave them. Top with canned beans and thaw out some peas.
- Going with the above, focus on meals with high fiber, healthy fat, and clean protein and avoid the overly processed foods that will leave you and your kiddos starving. The processed foods out contain 2 things that spike your blood sugar and create the huge crash, which leads to ravenous hunger. Sugar and overly refined ingredients. So with meals, focus on these items and your child may not be hungry for a snack. If they are, focus on these items when it comes to snacking as well. And you don’t have to have typical “snack” items for a snack… why not grab some leftovers from the fridge and give a small portion of that? Why do we feel we need granola bars, crackers, and packaged items? Adding in foods that will fill & fuel your child will lessen the snack stress we all have.
- Prep on the weekends. Don’t have the time? You need to make the time and schedule it. There aren’t any excuses here and when it comes to creating healthy options for your family- this time is essential. What’s not essential? Social media time? Mindless time fillers? Sitting at a baseball game doing nothing (you can meal plan on the sidelines!)? The excuse of “I don’t have time” needs to change to “I need to find the time.” If you don’t have the desire to find the time, then I suggest you really thinking about your goals and values when it comes to your family’s health and wellness. Find a why. A reason. A necessity. Then you’ll make the time.
- Buy produce that is already chopped or frozen. Hello! Huge time saver and you and your kiddos are more likely to eat them with them already being prepped.
- When it comes to dinners for the week- Choose 3 ingredients and cook them 2 different ways. Spinach for example. One night you can have an awesome spinach pesto pasta night (in under 30 minutes with a recipe I use… I’ll be uploading recipes soon!). Space it out and another night add spinach to an egg frittata that you make (another super easy, under 30 minute recipe, that I’ll be adding!)
With all the awesome feedback I’ve been receiving from moms on what they need help with, I’ll continue addressing all these in the posts to come. For now, take in these simple tips and reach out to me if you need more help and support. I’m here for you!
We can get into food ruts and comfort zones when we finally find something our child will eat. “Just give her a cheese stick, she’ll at least eat that…” has rolled off my tongue a few more times than I would like to admit. Even if the food is healthy, eating the same thing over and over again will actually stall the adventurous eater in your child. There will also come the time when they will eventually refuse that food, because they are simply tired of it, and you will find yourself asking, “Now what?”
So… Now what?
Some questions you can ask yourself:
- Have you been feeding that item multiple times that week?
- Have you been serving it the same way every time? (because that’s how she has liked it)
- What has been the variety in foods you’ve been serving that week?
There are days when your child could just not be in the mood for that food. Or they may have been overserved where they are bored with it, or the way it’s being prepared. Below are some super simple & doable tips that can help you solve the problem of “Mom! I don’t like spinach anymore!” The word to keep in mind is variety.
- Using a few ingredients that week but in various ways
Cinnamon is a wonderful and beneficial spice that you can use in so many ways. Your child can be your coffee buddy with a mug of warmed almond milk, a touch of honey and cinnamon. You can also put cinnamon in their smoothie. I have also put cinnamon in Brooklyn’s carrot ginger soup, which makes it extra toasty.
- Perhaps your child is bored with avocado?
I’ve mashed it like guacamole and sprinkled sea salt on top. Smeared it on whole grain toast. Cut it into boats and wrapped smoked salmon around it (bonus protein!). Put it in a blender with some fruit and plain yogurt and make popsicles. Create a nutritious chocolate pudding with avocado (recipe on my website!).
- When meal planning or creating your grocery list- focus on adding new items each week
Rotate some new things into your list and have your children help you with this. You can always spend an hour writing down different fruits, veggies, protein, and healthy fats on small pieces of paper where you can draw your choices out each week.
I bet you have some great ideas on how to get more variety in your kitchen. After all, variety is the spice of life! You’re doing a great job and I hope these tips help amp up your game. You can get even more tips by downloading my FREE E-Book, “Discovering The Adventurous Eater in Your Child” on this website.
Brooklyn is a child that really gravitates toward reward and seeing the progress of what she does. When we are figuring out what motivates our children, paying attention to what they respond to is essential to this. Your child is unique, and only you know what they respond to. It’s similar to the book “The 5 Love Languages” that you’ve read to figure out yourself and your partner.
There came a time with Brooklyn where I was at a loss of how to just get her to TASTE a new food. When I was writing “I Tried It”, something came to mind when I was figuring out ways that Brooklyn could motivate her friends to not be so apprehensive about trying a new food. I decided to try it on Brooklyn to see if it could actually work- at least 50% of the time.
I created our “I Tried It!” card, which is a very simple way to entice and celebrate being adventurous with eating. Plus it’s super simple which was my goal. The card has 12 spots on the back where each time your child tries a new food, they get a sticker to place in the square. What’s even better, and will gain more results, is the no pressure vibe in this game. Even if your child doesn’t like the food, they still get a sticker. Because your child will not like everything, just like you don’t. What’s important is them putting it in their mouth, tasting it, feeling the texture, and being introduced to it. That small celebration builds to larger celebrations. When the card is filled, they get to choose something special to do with their family. Brooklyn is already planning her summer out and all the fun things we are going to do together as a family.
The “I Tried It!” card will be available to your family during my April presale. The card is thick and glossy where you can reuse the card over and over again. Simple smiley face stickers, or stickers your child chooses, are easy to get at your local dollar store. I hope you will invite this book into your lives, and this fun way of getting your child to be excited about trying new foods. Thank you for reading!
P.S. Here are images of the front and back of the “I Tried It!” card. The card is right on the refrigerator so Brooklyn can see it every time she’s at the family table. “Mama! I want a sticker so I’m going to try this salad dressing!” That’s all I ask for kid, that’s all I need.
It starts with a spoon pushed off the high chair. Perhaps some food is thrown on the floor. Or even better, thrown AT you. Some may experience food actually being spit out and spraying all over your shirt. At first it may seem cute and even laughable, but your reaction to their behavior is going to have the biggest influence on them continuing the behavior. Or not. No judgment here, Brooklyn has had her share of us laughing or getting upset with her. Oh yes, even a negative reaction allows the behavior to continue… or get worse.
So what to do when your toddler- or even your 4 year old- thinks meal time is a game or has trouble expressing their frustrations? The solution is very simple: a very BORING reaction. OK, so what exactly is an example of that? Here are 2 from 2 different age groups and situations:
- Fiona is 2 and in her high chair. She is discovering her motor skills and strength are improving. She wants to practice and show off those skills! She also wants to have some fun. You know this game. Fiona looks at you in an oh-so-cute way and slowly starts pushing her spoon off her tray. “Uh uh Fiona… no, no, no…” is your initial response, with a smile, as she keeps pushing that spoon. You think she is so adorable and your face and tone show it. She keeps pushing it, pushing it, and OOOPS! “Uh Oh Fiona!” and everyone giggles and Fiona thinks “How fun! Not only am I cute but I’m making people laugh!” The focus is off the meal and she continues the behavior to get the reaction she gets from the table. Instead, let’s try the boring reaction approach. Instead of cutesy comments, a smile, and a “ready to play” approach, when Fiona starts pushing that spoon and looks at all of you with that smile- don’t react at all. Keep eating as a family, doing what you’re doing, and don’t even look at what she’s doing. If that spoon goes off that tray and onto the floor, pick it up in a calm way, put it on her tray, look in her eyes and tell her, “Fiona, the spoon is for eating and stays on the tray.” If she does it again, same thing but add “Fiona, the next time you push the spoon off your tray, the spoon goes away.” Keep on doing your thing. That third time, say “Fiona, the spoon stays on the tray and this time it goes away.” She can figure out a way to eat her meal without the spoon. This boring reaction approach isn’t that easy though. It takes consistency and patience. The results won’t happen overnight.
- Let’s say you have the 4-year-old that is very expressive, independent, and knows what he wants. And tells you! It’s OK for him to express his feelings and his choices, but that doesn’t mean you need to react in a way that will allow him to manipulate meal time. So when Ben tells you “I don’t like this! I don’t want a salad!”, you take the boring reaction approach that I do with Brooklyn. “Ben, it’s your choice to not eat your salad. This is our dinner and you have a choice to eat it or not.” Leave it at that. Don’t make a big deal. Don’t beg. Don’t plead. Don’t negotiate. And definitely don’t get up to make something else for Ben.
The boring reaction approach when it comes to behavior at the table can actually create an adventurous eater with consistency, patience, and time. The trick with this technique is they look at your boring reaction as a consequence. They want a rise out of you. They want to see you flustered and catering to them. What’s healthy for them, and YOU, is to still acknowledge and teach but in a way that will gain positive results.
Wishing you a positive family table with less mess and stress!