It seems like the criteria for eating healthy has gotten a lot stricter in the past ten years. Before, if you ate a variety of things that included fruits and vegetables, you were good. Now, you need to worry about whole grains, sodium, trans fats, organic produce, “whole foods,” and more. I feel like there’s no way I could actually eat enough of the foods I’m supposed to eat and not too much of the foods I’m not supposed to eat and have any of it actually resemble real meals, let alone tasty ones.
At the same time, I’ve been too lax about our eating habits lately. I like vegetables, but I have had a hard time figuring out which ones Duplo will be able to eat without teeth and which ones the rest of the family actually likes. Also, we mostly eat junk food (hot dogs, chicken nuggets, ramen, etc.) for lunch and almost always cold cereal—which Lego almost never eats much of—for breakfast. And then Lego snacks on fruit snacks, goldfish crackers, and animal crackers throughout the day. It’s gotten bad. There have been many nights where I’ll think back over the day and what Lego actually ate (as opposed to what I offered) and feel ashamed.
So I’m taking control and taking responsibility. I can’t afford organic, and I’m not totally sold on the idea that it’s that much better anyway. We do buy whole wheat bread and cereals, so that much is fine.
On Monday, I researched sample healthy menus for toddlers. I figured if I bought foods Duplo could and would eat, the rest of us would probably be able to eat them too. I then made up menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two weeks. I made sure every meal included fruits and/or vegetables. After making up the menus, I went on a huge shopping trip and bought everything I would need to make the meals for two weeks.
The biggest change has been with our breakfasts. Instead of cereal day after day, I have made pumpkin muffins, pancakes, and oatmeal. Yeah, it’s a little more work. There are more dishes to wash afterwards. However, I’ve enjoyed eating breakfast so much this week that it’s totally worth it. My favorite, I think, was the day when I made oatmeal with blueberries, peaches, and a little cream. Yesterday, we made “flag pancakes” with strawberry jam, blueberries, and whipped cream. Lego thought that was a lot of fun. I used some whole-wheat flour in the pancakes. They turned out well, so I’ll definitely do it again.
Anyway, I’m feeling optimistic about the whole thing. It feels good to be intentional about things and not just let the day go wherever it wants to and then not like where you end up. If that makes sense.
And now for a random anecdote. My sister, Kenneren, told me that she had a friend once who made “chocolate chip cookies.” Instead of sugar, the cookies contained honey. Instead of oil, they had applesauce. Instead of white flour, wheat flour and oatmeal. And instead of chocolate chips, they had blueberries.
I’m sorry. Maybe they were good, but they were not cookies, let alone chocolate chip cookies. I think that’s the point where healthy eating goes too far.
It can be overwhelming to try and eat healthier, especially when you have kids involved. I’ve found that avocados are GREAT for babies with no teeth, because you don’t have to do any prep–they’re already soft enough to be baby food. I’d highly recommend the book “Baby Blender Food: Over 125 Recipes for Healthy Homemade Meals,” by Nicole Young. Not only does it have good ideas for making meals/baby food for babies of different ages, but it also gives tips on how to adapt those same meals for toddlers or the rest of the family, and ways to “hide” more vegetables in your meals.
Some easy ways to add whole grains to your diet are to take foods you normally make and make them with half white and half wheat flour. While your family may resist eating 100% whole wheat, they probably won’t mind or even notice the half and half. You can also cut the sugar in half in most recipes (or substitute honey) without a huge difference. Oh, and try mixing brown rice in with your white rice, to still get the stickier, lighter taste of white rice with the nutrients of brown.
OK, I’ll climb down off my soapbox now. We’re definitely not health freaks in our family, but I’ve been doing some experimenting lately with making some small changes like using more whole wheat and being more aware of what we’re eating, and I’ve also gotten addicted to gardening and trying to grow some of our own fruits and vegetables. Good luck with all of your changes! Oh, and thanks for the offer of the muffin tins. I actually was able to borrow some from a neighbor so I should be good.
Good for you! Finding healthy, toddler-friendly foods sounds like a real challenge, but it sounds like you’ve come up with some fun meals. Also, I’m totally with you on those cookies.