As a mother, I strive to create healthy meals for my family.  I am committed to giving them a wide variety of foods that are low in fat, big on flavor.  Some days these meals get a double thumbs up (this is one of many rating systems my children use).  Other days, after answering “What’s for dinner?” I get a “Eww, gross Mom.”  This is parenthood at it’s finest-and one of the parts that no one prepares you for.

Here is what I know-Obesity Rates in America are at an all time high.

More than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese according to the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA.) Children are not immune to these sad statistics.  Pediatricians and pediatric nutritionists advise parents about the proper foods to offer.  They talk about serving sizes, nutritional content, and feeding culture.  As much as they can advise, these professionals cannot make children eat these healthy foods.
Feeding children healthy foods is hard work.  It requires planning, organization, and creativity, which are things that modern parents don’t have enough time for.  It’s important to make it work because of the medical considerations that accompany obesity.  The Centers for Disease Control offers the following information:
“Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.  The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.”
This information is staggering to me (and I work in healthcare).

Kids are picky eaters.  All kids, not just mine.

We are in control of how we handle their picky habits!  Let me say that again-Parents are in control of how picky eaters are handled.  Mom, Dad, extended family members, and other care providers are setting the tone for how our children eat.  We teach them what tastes good.  We set limits around how much processed food is in their diet.  We choose whether or not to buy dinosaur chicken nuggets and Lucky Charms.

Cooking with my children is one way that I try to combat my picky eaters.

Choosing to cook with them is a privilege.  We talk about the ingredients, and why they are important.  We work together to create a tasty work of art.  Sometimes our recipes are worthy of a Michellin star and disappear in a few minutes.  Other days we talk about why it did not work-too much garlic, not enough sear, or it needed more salt to make it an award worthy meal.  This is something that I love, and I honestly believe that it helps my children to be more aware of the food that fuels their bodies.
I realize that many people do not love to cook, but don’t be discouraged.  Your kids need you!  Start with simple things-take a box of pancake mix and add extra ingredients to make it more healthy.  In my house, we add oatmeal to make it whole grain, fruits for added color, taste, and nutritional value.  I make a batch and freeze some silver dollar size pancakes to use when the kids need a quick snack.  You can alter muffin recipes in a similar fashion and the kids will think you are brilliant!
Stay tuned for future posts with additional insights and suggestions about healthy eating.
You can avoid the pitfalls of picky eaters!