In today’s episode we speak with Andrea Heyman, registered dietitian and creator of Feeding my Fam Podcast about topics and tricks to get your kiddos to eat better than they are right now. We review what healthy eating looks like, how to break the habit of making multiple dinners each night by creating food rules, and some tricks to get the kiddos of all ages involved in meal planning and prepping. Listen in for some simple tricks to lessen the fuss and stress of meals time!
Andrea Heyman has over 25 years of experience as a registered dietitian. Andrea specializes in weight management and currently works in Baltimore, MD. In addition, she runs Adventures In Feeding My Fam, a podcast and online programs which focus on providing SIMPLE non-diet meal planning tips and tricks; managing the nutrition needs of various family members; promoting wellness to achieve health transformation. Andrea is the mom of three kids, 19, 16 and 13 and she’s proud that they all appreciate healthy food and are adventurous eaters. She is 100% confident others can reach their health and wellness goals!
FB Group: http://bit.ly/adventuresinfeedingmyfamsupportgroup
TS:Hi guys, welcome back to the show. So today we’re going to have Andrea on and Andrea is going to talk all about how you can get your kid to eat healthier. So welcome, Andrea, welcome to the show. Thanks
AH: Thank you for having me. I’m really happy to be here.
TS:Yeah, we’re so happy to have you. Okay. So this is going to kind of be a broad topics and why don’t you kind of get me started. So when we’re talking about how to get my kids eat healthier, what are you thinking? Are you thinking, okay, my kid’s not going to eat chicken nuggets and pizza every day, or like, how deep are we getting into this?
AH:So I can tell you, I can kind of go back to my, one of my pinnacle experiences where I was like, Oh my gosh, I am not doing the things that I am telling others. Because for your listeners who may not know, I am also a dietician like you. And so my oldest child, when he was about two, he was pretty tiny. And just a side note, if you knew me and knew my husband, you would look at us and say, yep, your kids are never going to be huge diet kids. But, but, you know, I was a first time parent and people would look at him and say, Oh, he’s so small. And you know, sometimes as parents we get like pulled into that competition mode. So I felt like I had to do whatever I could to get him to eat because, well, then he wouldn’t be so tiny.
AH:And so I got into this habit of feeding him things like, Oh, you know, those Gushers fruit snacks that are really just candy and like pigs in a blanket, like hot dogs and a blanket. And every day after he got up from an app, I would spoon feed him oatmeal. And so this was really ridiculous. I am, I was like, I do not want to have him eating like this and have these eating habits. And I was finding that because I was feeding him those foods. I was also eating those foods. So I didn’t want that for myself either. So that was my moment when I was like, Andrea, you are just not practicing what you preach here. So we really had to change up what we were eating. And that was a bit of a process because obviously he was used to eating his preferred foods and not so much the foods that parents that we want our kids to eat. So there was a bit of a transition there and I would pretty much try to at every meal, include a couple of food options, at least one of those being something that I knew he would eat and then include and incorporate some healthier foods that I wanted him to eat as well.
TS:Gotcha. So what did you feel like work the most in order to get him to eat the healthier foods? Was it, you know, by putting other foods on there that he didn’t normally eat, was he apt to eat those or did you, you know, like how did that kind of go?
AH:I think one of the biggest keys is you being you as a parent being in charge of the food choices. So not short order cooking. So many of us get into that fall into that trap and into that cycle. So I would say avoid that. Everybody’s eating all the foods that are being served. Nobody’s getting special treatment, nobody in the family is getting different food and also really encouraging a pretty chill, relaxed family table. So as little pressure as possible is helpful, although I’m okay with you having some food rules. So I think it’s great to have a culture of you can’t insult the food or you can’t put down the food. You can’t say things like, Ooh, what’s that, you know, it’s just, it becomes sort of a respect thing. So, you know, having that nice family culture and around the family table is really good. I mentioned not pressuring and keeping the conversation comfortable and light.
TS: Yeah, just kind of having like a, like a calm space where it’s about the family and it’s more like about the food, but then when you’re talking about that, like that you’re are, you’re all eating the same food, right. So do you have a variety within that? In that, within that food? So like if you know, one of your kids doesn’t like it, but you have kind of something that each one of them would kind of eat. Is that kinda what you do? At least your kid has something that they can absolutely.
AH:Well, if the meal is rice and salmon and broccoli, I know each one of them will accept at least one of those foods. And I think that’s important for younger kids, especially when they’re needing to try foods over and over until they can determine what their preferences are.
TS:And then do you have them, like when they’re eating and that you’re trying to get them to see? I think probably most people, especially if the kids are well, probably all age groups, I feel like it’s always like, how do I get my kids eat more vegetables? So my guess is that you would say like, you would have the exposure to the kid. Right. So kind of talk out, can you talk a little bit about like having the exposure to the kid and being okay with the kid, not eating something but exposing the child. So, and then also if role modeling healthy eating and eating vegetables kind of plays into that.
AH:Definitely. so I find all the pretty regularly I find parents will say, Oh, I can’t get my kids to eat vegetables and such and such, but then I come to find out that they don’t eat vegetables themselves and may not necessarily offer them that frequently. You can’t necessarily, except the fact if, if your child says to you now I don’t like green beans. And they’ve only tried them once. Oftentimes we think, Hey, they tried them once. They don’t like them, but it can take up to 20 times of actually trying a food before we know that we re re actually like it. And that doesn’t mean 20 times of serving it to your kid. It’s 20 times of them actually consuming it and swallowing it.
TS: And how do you do that? Like, do you say what’s the best approach for that? Do you say? Like okay. So like you mentioned the example of like salmon and rice and some vegetable, then do you say, okay, you have to eat this and this and this, and then you offer like a dessert afterwards. Like what’s the best way to get your child’s EA what, you know, that they, you know, you want them to try, but then also like, so it’s not just they’re being exposed that they’re actually tasting it. Right?
AH: Right. Right. I think the best way is to have established an established rule of, okay, you have to taste one bite of everything on your plate. Or some families might do three bites of everything on their family. I’m sorry, on their plate, whatever, whatever that rule is for your household, as long as you’re consistent. And that rule has to carry over to all members of the household, not just one or the other. But that, that consistency is fine. You just want to be careful about the pressuring and that’s becomes a really tricky point.
TS:Yeah. I was going to say, so like when you’re serving something at eight applies to you too. So like, if you’re like the parents, right. So like, if you’re saying like, Oh, you have to have all these foods and everyone’s kind of platelets the same. And then everybody has to try the food, whether they like the food or not. Right. Absolutely. And then there’s no other offers to have any other food source. That’s it? That’s if you, and then what happens if your kid only eats a little bit and doesn’t eat enough? What, what do you do then? Cause I think that’s a big thing. Like, Oh my, my child eat this much, but now like an hour later he’s hungry or she’s hungry. What do you do in situations like that?
AH: Okay. So for the most part, kids won’t go hungry. There are some situations where some will go hungry. So I don’t want to say a blanket statement overall. Yeah. I think it’s personally in my house I’ve always had, when they, when my kids were younger, we always had an evening snack. So as long as you have an established snack time you can say, all right, well, w you will, it’s not snack time now, but at seven 30 it’s snack time and you can have something to eat then, but we don’t want them to get into the habit of that. The kid refuses the meal. But then turns around a half an hour and wants, I don’t know, their favorite Graham crackers or something like that to fill up on instead of what we had hoped they would eat at the meal. Cause they’re pretty savvy. They’ll figure out ways to get around anything that they don’t want to do.
TS: And how do you explain, is it possible to explain healthy eating to a young child? And how do you explain healthy eating to a child in general?
AH: I don’t think it’s ever too early to do that. Although your explanations will be kind of tailored to their age, but I think it’s really helpful to include positive language about the food. Like say things like, Oh it’s a balanced, it’s a balanced meal to have a vegetable and a grain and a protein. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be awkward or forced. I would wait to kinda tell you had those natural opportunities to say something like that. But actually they pick up on it pretty well. You’d be surprised you don’t, it’s not like you have to say something all the time, but those little cues they do pick up on. Definitely.
TS:So what happens if you have like, if, what, how do you initiate healthy, healthy eating in it and a child if like, say they’re like 10 and you have all these, you may be have like, you know, all these years before where maybe you haven’t as a household, have the rules, like how do you then start to implement that as they’re getting older.
AH: Definitely is the harder as they get older, the younger the better, for sure. I think if some, if you have a child who’s 10 they’re at the age where you can have more of a conversation like that and just say, Hey, we are trying to have healthier habits. I need to have healthier habits. And I want you to have healthy habits too, for when you’re older and a teenager. And you’re making more of your food choices independently. And even when you become an adult maybe you have some sort of medical reason, that’s kind of motivating this and you can say, Hey, we need to get healthier because of whatever that medical or health condition is. But I think at 10, probably even nine, maybe even younger, depending on your child, you can bring them into that conversation. And just really encourage their support with that and say, establish the new rules and the new expectations at mealtime. But definitely it’s easier when they are younger.
TS: Yeah. And I mean, if that must be a hard mind-shift for, because the parent then has to play a big role in that and in changing that focus, and I know it’s probably for the parent could seem like it’s a lot of work upfront, but definitely cause that’s a big adjustment I would say. Right. So then have it like, so how they get the insight. So then what my guess is that the parent being consistent is going to play a really big role in having the child eat healthy. Would you say that’s right, absolutely.
AH: Right. And I think you make a really good point that initially it’s going to be more work upfront, but if you know that going in, then it helps to get you over that initial hump
TS:Of effort. Yeah. So it’s like any, I guess it could be like anything meal prepping in the sense that like you’re putting the hard work and at the beginning, but then you’ll start to see the fruits of your labor and probably each meal. It might get a little bit easier as the rules become more consistent. And as for established within the family, it sounds like you’re saying
AH: You are right. Absolutely.
TSL: Now I got to think of another question. You’re just going so quick. Oh, sorry. Wait. No, it’s good. You’re doing wonderful. Is there anything I’m missing?
AH: So maybe you want to talk about getting kids involved in the case.
TS: Yeah, actually I was thinking that like meal prepping. You want me to do like a pop on like how to kick? Can you hear that? Your planes? Okay. So then another question, you know, we were talking about with, how do you get your, your child’s being engaged in the kitchen.
AH: I love that question. This is one of the things that I’m super excited about. I love getting kids involved in the kitchen. So first of all, you have to know your child, some are more impulsive than others. So you may want to be depending on their age, a little bit more wary of what responsibilities and tasks you’re giving them in the kitchen. But certainly at any age, even at a young age, kids can help you measure things using measuring cups or measuring spoons and stirring or things like that. It’s often fun to have a child even like pull up a chair, a younger child, pull up a chair next to you. Even if they’re not necessarily doing a lot of the hands-on cooking they can be there and just kind of feel like they’re there with you. Or I think it’s fun to have them sit on them
TS:Do you think that makes a difference in terms of like them invested in the meal to helping? Yeah,
AH: I definitely do. As kids get older, you can ask them what they want to have for dinner that week. And depending on what their response is, you can kind of cue them say, okay, so for example, if you ask your five-year-old child, what do you want to have for dinner this week? And they say Mac and cheese. Okay, great. Mac and cheese is a great choice, but let’s add a vegetable and a protein option here with this. So that it’s a more balanced meal. So that’s actually a perfect opportunity to teach what a healthy meal is without being so formal about it, I guess. And then they just, like you said, feel more invested in having some say in what the meal choices are going to be. I think it’s pretty common at my house. I’ll ask my teenager what he wants for dinner this week. And usually it’s a, but I’m persistent. I’m like, I know you, I know you do know. So give me an answer and, and that’s always plus it’s nice to get his, their input as well so that I don’t have to make all the choices.
TS:Yeah. I mean, so that’s, what’s pretty fun. It’s like, if you get the, so first I want to ask you, okay. One thing I’m going to ask you is, is there different things to get the kid, like other different tasks that you do in the kitchen for different age groups? Like, so can you give me a suggestion? So when a kid is like a little kid, what kinds of things I know you said like stirring and adding, measuring cups, but then as they get older, are they like, how do you maintain that excitement?
AH: Right. I think kids at a pretty young age too, can do appealing using a peeler. The peels might go all over the place, but if we can accept a little bit of mess then that’s a good task for them as well. I think, like I said, knife skills, I was probably pretty early giving my kids a knives to use. But you gotta, you gotta know your own kid and your own comfort level with that, but they can chop and that’s like a good task. And then I would say the first time that they do something with heat, with the stove or the oven definitely supervise that until they feel confident and kind of walk them through what to be careful of. And, and those, those things, cause obviously that’s dangerous. And I think microwave, you can use it a pretty early age too.
TS: That’s really awesome. And then when you were talking about the kids, like giving their input about what they want to eat, so that’s pretty cool too. Right? Cause then I guess like if they pick the one thing that then they like, then you can kind of build around it at least, you know, they’re going to eat the one thing that they like, and then you don’t have to worry so much about them not eating anything else. Cause it doesn’t sound like that’s as much of an issue as I think a lot of parents probably think it is like, Oh my kids didn’t eat something for dinner. Oh my gosh, I have to go and make them something else. But really if you’re including them in it, then that should come to take a little bit of that away. Right.
AH: Absolutely. For sure. And those are perfect examples that if your child is asking to have a certain dish in the upcoming week, I would get them involved preparing that item as well. Cause they are already into that and they are vested and that’s a really good opportunity for involvement in the kitchen there.
TS: Okay. Well Andrea, thank you so much for coming on today. You were just, Oh my gosh. You’re just so well. I got to do this again. Just one more. Okay. Andrea, thank you so much for coming on today. You’ve just been such a wealth of knowledge and I know my audience will just appreciate everything that you shared. So I really can’t. Thank you enough.
AH: Well, I was so happy to be here and I know we share a lot of the same perspectives on trying to get your family to eat.
TS: Yeah. So thanks!