Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm Hungry...words you hate to hear.

Teeth are brushed, water is at the side of the bed, books are read and then the two year old says "I'm hungry". Here is the predicament, she did not eat much of a dinner (which she does when she does not like it). Encouragement was made to try and eat more. She stubbornly resisted and now time has passed and it is time for bed. "Kitchen is closed" is what I want to say and then I worry that she will wake up in the middle of the night with hunger pains. 
Making everyone sit down to eat together as a family at dinner time has always been important to me. Timing meals and making it to where everyone knows that we eat between 5:30-6 every night has been a part of the process that I think is important to get kids to eat healthy. But now what do I do when she won't eat when, and what, I want her to eat?

So along with my mission to decrease the amount of junk food in my children's diet, here are some things that I tried to do to increase what she ate at dinnertime:

  • I limited the amount of snacks before dinner and limited the "grazing" hours between 4-6. Filling this time with only fruits and vegetables. Distracting her with outdoor playtime also seemed to help.
  • Increased the protein filled snacks in hopes to satisfy her longer. Choosing snacks like milk, cheese, low sugar yogurts, lean cuts of deli meat, bean dips, seeds and nuts.
  • Incorporating foods with more fiber such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Popcorn, fresh cut up fruit and vegetables along with high fiber breads can be a good place to start. To help them eat more of their vegetables I just purchased a new veggie dip that Sabra makes. The same company that makes a delicious hummus also makes a cucumber dill veggie dip. My friend told me about it and I can't wait for them to try it. It seems a little healthier than Ranch dressing because it is made with Greek yogurt.  
  • I also chose to have both kids become more involved with the meal planning. I know what you may be thinking, they are only 5 and 2, but I am finding that the more that they can help me choose what we eat the more apt they are to eat it. I have designed dinner recipe cards in which they can help me choose from. We place the dinner cards on the refrigerator in magnets so that everyone knows what is for dinner. For more info on these recipe boxes visit: www.abcdeatright.com/parents . The site is still under construction but if you want to order a recipe box email me at Brandi@abcdeatright.com . 

Sometimes I think it is ridiculous that I worry that my daughter is hungry at night when thousands of children in the US go to bed without eating anything at all. I realize that it may be a phase and that she does eat well when she wants too. But I still want to focus my attention on getting her to eat with some normalcy in her schedule. It is a challenge to balance everything with children. As a mom and a Registered Dietitian I face a constant personal battle with healthy nutrition. My ultimate goal is to instill good eating habits within both of our kids while they are still young. Arming them with nutrition education will benefit them throughout their lives and will end up being one of the best gifts I could give them.

How do you get through your feeding struggles?


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