When my kids were little, we had the best family physician, Dr. Tim Devlin. I remember being nervous as a new mom and how he was always so reassuring and made me feel more confident in my abilities as a parent.
After I weaned my kids from breastmilk, I let them have bottles, which they loved. I remember being concerned that they wouldn’t want to part with them. Dr. Devlin said, “Don’t worry. They’ll be ready for sippy cups before you know it.” He was right!
As my children got older, I became worried about their eating habits. Dr. Devlin told me not to worry so much. “As long as they have at least one healthy meal a day, they’ll be fine,” he said. And today my sons are healthy as they can be.
I do think feeding our kids healthy food is one of the most important things we do as parents. The problem is there’s so much tasty junk food out there. When we give our kids salty, oily, crispy food at a young age, like pizza, French fries, and burgers, or sweet things, like cake, cookies, and candy, their taste buds will become accustomed to eating junk. Once you go down that path as a parent, it’s hard to reverse the damage.
My advice is to start kids on vegetables and fruit at an early age. My kids always had peas from the time they could pick them up from their high chair tray. Peas are sweet and soft and healthy! Corn is another option—and soon there will be lots of corn in the grocery stores. Fruit is a no-brainer: blueberries, bananas, kiwis, mangos—all soft and easy for toddlers to eat.
When it comes to protein, chicken and scrambled eggs are good choices for kids. Nut butters also offer protein and are great on a rice cracker. OK, some peanut butter might end up in your toddler’s hair, but that’s easily resolved with a wet cloth.
I’m also a big fan of sitting down to the table for meals as a family. I know it’s hard with everyone’s busy schedules, but having that together time is such an important part of being a family—a time to slow down and be present in the moment, to enjoy tasting the yummy hot food, and to talk about how everyone’s day was.
And if you’re thinking it’s too hard to make real food for dinner, it’s not. Get out the sheet pan when you get home from work and throw a few chicken tenders seasoned with an herb or spice mix on the sheet. On another pan spread some fresh green beans and drizzle olive oil on them. Throw the pans in the oven for 25 or 30 minutes and voila. Serve with couscous that take just five minutes from box to plate.
For dessert, how about fresh pineapple? All you need is a sharp knife, a cutting board, and a ripe pineapple, and in five minutes, you’ll have glistening, golden, juicy, sweet chunks of pineapple for your family to enjoy.
As spring blossoms around us this month, make sure you give thanks for the abundant good food we have available and the special people in our lives—like the doctors and health care providers who help keep our families healthy.