Have you ever wondered what nutritionists put on their children’s plates at home? They may talk about counting calories, or the perfect plate, but do they follow the same advice when the clients are gone? You might be surprised that, we too, are figuring it out for our families, one bite at a time.
You may be surprised to learn that nutritionists are often flexible with their kids’ diets:
- Splurges are allowed. Nutritionists understand that everyone wants a treat, and kids are especially difficult to ignore when they want a sweet.
- They let their kids have the occasional splurge at home. They don’t forbid sweets or junk food forever. They simply restrict how much and how often their children eat these foods.
- Nutritionists know that putting certain items on a forbidden list will make them more enticing. Kids are smart and will find a way to indulge their sweet tooth at school or other places if they can’t get the food at home.
- Sweet treats in moderation. Nutritionists admit that they allow some sweet foods in their home, but they handle it differently than most parents. Kids can have a sweet treat, but the majority has to be other healthy food. Sticking with the 80/20 rule is a good thing to remember. 80% of the time, do your best to be dialed in, 20% of the time, enjoy gatherings and events. (Of course, if there is a known food allergy or aversion, this will be different.)
- Healthier salad dressings and dips. Nutritionists usually allow their kids to use healthy salad dressings or dips. They simply switch to nutrient dense offerings (like hummus) that are healthier. They don’t try to force their kids to eat salads or raw veggies without any dips or dressings. Making dips the ‘treat’ is a great way to get more nutrients in kids bodies!
- Oatmeal and fruit. Most nutritionists have a story that got them into their profession. So following their healthy advice is ‘a-ok’ because more often that not, they have tried it themselves!
- Your nutritionist has probably mentioned the benefits of eating oatmeal with fruit. This is a common breakfast in their own households, and the kids eat it. In our home, we have found the Trader Joe’s, gluten free version to be our favorite.
- Peanut butter sandwiches. It’s hard to imagine a household with children that doesn’t serve this meal, and nutritionist aren’t able to escape it either.
- Unless their kids have nut allergies, most nutritionists allow this food. However, they use sprouted bread and a nut butter alternative (almond butter or sunflower seed butter are our favorites) without preservatives or added sugar. They also try to avoid using sugary jelly and put fresh, raw honey or other fruit instead.
- Healthy smoothies. Nutritionists often bemoan the sugar-filled smoothies that people buy in stores. However, they let their kids drink healthy smoothies at home that they make themselves.
- A healthy smoothie usually combines fruits and vegetables with a little protein. There’s no added sugar or preservatives. Kids love the sweet taste, so they tend to be frequent requests.
- Smoothies allow nutritionists to sneak in things like kale or carrots that their kids may not want to eat in the raw form. As everything is blended together, children often don’t notice the extra fruits and vegetables that are in the drink.
- Cheese sticks. Nutritionists allow their kids to eat cheese if they don’t have a dairy allergy.
- Nutritionists admit that cheese sticks are preferred by their children because they’re more fun to eat.
- They try to pick ones that are organic and don’t have preservatives. Cheese has protein and calcium, so it’s not a bad option for the picky eater.
Nutritionists know that kids need variety and treats. Just like you, they ensure their children are exposed to many different foods, and make the time to offer dishes that are tasty, delicious, and healthy…all at the same time!
These tips and tricks are for kids of all ages. As a mom of three at all different ages and stages (high school through elementary) being dialed into my children’s needs takes effort, but one that I am willing to put forth, as I know that good nutrition is paramount to their learning success!