While I try to refrain from the unseemly practice of quoting myself, I noted during the June 24 Traveling Mom Twitter party that the “hardest part about getting kids to eat healthy on the road is setting a good example with my own eating.”
It follows, then, that the most effective way to model healthier vacation eating would be to eat better at home, cooking healthier meals more and ordering in less. But the reality is that when my wife and I get home from work we have little energy to cook and even less desire to get creative with our menus.
And while my wife is far more diligent than I in dishing out carrot sticks and salads and vegetable sides with dinner, our kids can’t always be coaxed to eat their vegetables, which makes them a statistic: 90% of kids don’t eat the recommended amount of vegetables each day, according to a joint press release issued by Birds Eye, Nickelodeon, and the Partnership for a Healthier America.
And that brings us to July 31, when for a few hours I bumped up my Coolest Dad Ever cred by bringing my kids to a Rewrite the Dinnertime Rules event hosted by the aforementioned parties and Nickelodeon Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy. Needless to say it was Ms. McCurdy and not the opportunity to rewrite the dinnertime rules that got my children (and no doubt the other children and parents in attendance) to come along, but I give credit to Birds Eye and team for opening our eyes a little about changing our approach to vegetables. Among the things we learned:
Peas don’t suck. Parents of a certain age may recall a product called “I Hate Peas,” pea-riddled French fries that promised a “new way to get vegetable goodness” and if I remember correctly I still hated peas after that and I’m not that wild about them now. However, two recipes served up by Birds Eye during the event were a revelation, especially since we were blindfolded when we tried them: The pea guacamole and sweet pea & parmesan crostini didn’t taste like peas. They simply tasted good.
Kids get brave around a juicer. At the event a chef was blending up smoothies according to the whims of the children picking out the ingredients. And as kids often do when they get near a food processing appliance, they can’t leave well enough alone, so during our demo the smoothie had what I considered an unholy mix of vegetables, fruit, and yogurt. But sure enough the kids gamely drank it down, which inspires me to fire up our new juicer beyond the three times I’ve already used it.
Use pizza as a vehicle for vegetables every chance you get. That Jennette asked my son’s advice on what healthy ingredients to put on her mini-pizza no doubt heightened his enthusiasm for loading his own pizza with vegetables, but the make-and-bake pizza station at the event was a good reminder that kids might be more likely to eat healthier food if they make it and bake it themselves.
Healthy eating begets healthy eating. While this roomful of people had no choice but to eat healthy (there was no fried chicken and waffles station in evidence) there’s no question that we were all inspired to eat healthier because we were all doing it. And that, I suppose, brings it back around to the idea that if as a family we modeled better vegetable eating for each other, we might inch a bit closer to eating our recommended amount of vegetables every day.
The experienced parents at Traveling Mom have written a fair amount about healthy eating. Among the articles you should check out:
- Vegetarian in Houston: No Longer Unwelcome
- Favorite Super Bowl Snacks
- Hyatt’s “For Kids, By Kids” Menu
- Yoplait Greek 100 Yogurt for Summer Road Trips
Top image courtesy of Dario Cantatore for Birds Eye