General Tips for Healthy Tot-meals
When it comes to eating healthy, I think we've all heard the old adage; "eat colorful foods". Finding those colors every day can be tough, we all know that green veggies are good for you- but, where do we find orange, yellow, red and even purple?
In order to help myself stock our house with healthy, colorful foods, I've made a list for that I look at before I hit the grocery store. Because I will admit that I struggle with this, too!
I'm going to share it with you, below. Feel free to print it out and stick it on the fridge... then you can think of me every day (yay)!
*Please note that I've split these up into two lists, specifically for kids that need extra calories in their diets.
GREEN RED YELLOW
Kale Tomatoes Bell Peppers
Spinach Bell Peppers Peach
Brussels sprouts Beets Carrots (come in a variety of colors)
Broccoli Raspberries Beets (come yellow too!)
Asparagus Strawberries Cauliflower (see note above)
String beans Cherries Banana
Snow, snap peas Grapes Winter squash
Bell pepper Watermelon
ORANGE PURPLE BLUE/BLACK
Carrots Carrots (yep) Blueberries
Bell peppers Cauliflower (double yep) Blackberries
Winter squash Cabbage Black olives
Now, it's important to remember that our CF-toddlers are obviously not on a lean foods diet. They need calories and fat! Unfortunately, the rainbow of foods listed above are lower in calories (I'm not talking about fat, here). That doesn't mean that you shouldn't give it to them! Just be sure to also pick some foods from the colorful list below:
GREEN RED YELLOW BROWN
Edamame Kidney Beans Corn Brown or Wild Rice
Peas Quinoa Mango Quinoa
Pear (surprising) Pineapple Whole-grain pasta
Avocado Nut butters
ORANGE PURPLE BLUE/BLACK Nuts
Cantaloupe Figs Black Beans Seeds
Sweet Potato Raisins
Cheese (cheddar, muenster, colby, etc.)
This doesn't mean that white foods can't be healthy! Here's a list of some healthy, yet pigment-challenged foods (calories and fat vary on this list):
Eggplant (I know it's purple on the outside... but remember what your Grandma told you; it's what's inside that counts)
Apple (see note above)
White cheeses (feta, mozzarella, parmesan, etc)
Now that you've got your colorful foods all listed out for you- how do you implement this into your child's diet?
The short answer is: any way you can!
Honestly, though, if figuring this out for ourselves is tough, then doing it for our toddlers is even harder! Toddlers are always testing us when it comes to eating. They tend to want the processed, white and sweet things.. meals are challenging, snacks can be nearly impossible.
Just think about it- snack time is short and fast, and usually interrupting some game or activity that your kiddo would rather be doing. It's so easy to grab the nearest quick, crackery or boxed item handy and toss it on the tray. I've done it many times! But, when I get stuck in a colorless snack (or meal) rut, I remind myself of three things:
1- Food groups (I try to incorporate 4 in each meal/snack)
2- Fat / Calories
For example: Avalyn wanted yogurt and hummus (or hummie as she calls it). While both of those items are good, fatty foods, they don't have much color to them. It's also only hitting 2 food groups. So, I remedied her "off-white" plate by throwing chunks of RED strawberries into her yogurt, letting her scoop the hummus with GREEN snap peas and putting a few BLACK olives on her tray.
Later that day, dinner was a "burrito" bowl with BROWN rice, BLACK beans, GREEN avocado, ORANGE cheese, YELLOW corn and RED tomatoes.
So some Mothers might be thinking... right, Lady, you make it sound SO easy. Well, I will acknowledge (again) that I struggle with this a lot. I'm not perfect, and not every meal is easy, healthy and stress-free. It's even harder for us CF Mamas because not only do we have to give our kids healthy foods, but we also have to give them fatty and calorie heavy foods.
I think the bottom line, and the reason I'm writing this post, is to keep mealtime as simple and stress-free as possible. Stock your house with good foods, save recipes that work and get creative.
And don't beat yourself up over the occasional afternoon snack of goldfish and store-bought fruit and veggie pouches. You'll make up for it tomorrow.
You're doing a good job, Mama!