Getting kids to eat takes creativity, patience and, sometimes, a bit of luck. 52 Moms Talk Food is my exploration of how inspiring moms make it happen.
Based in Northern CA, Bita is a freelance TV producer and mother of two (6 and 4). She has always been one busy lady. To top off her full plate, Bita and her husband recently started a home renovation project, which is bound to make family eating even a little more exciting. Bita and I chatted about the challenges—and small wins—of getting a healthy meal on the table… and in the lunchbox.
Q: You have a lot going on. How do you handle getting food on the table?
Bita: I write up a calendar for breakfast and lunch so the kids know what’s being served… and, they don’t argue about it because it’s in writing! We rotate through about four or five choices each week, like Mondays are oatmeal for breakfast and cream cheese sandwiches for lunch. I struggle with variety, but—for me—structure works and helps us get out the door in the mornings.
Q: What is your meal philosophy?
Bita: Family meals and planning. It’s important that we eat meals together as a family, so we prioritize eating breakfast and dinner together. And, planning meals in advance is crucial to minimizing stress.
Q: What are your favorite tips for getting your kids to eat?
Bita: Threats. [laughs] Just kidding.
Here are some of Bita’s favorite tips for getting her kids to eat well.
- A hearty breakfast helps the kids forgo the mid-morning snack, making them hungrier for lunch.
- Dinner always includes a protein + starch + veggie.
- Water, water, water. “The kids rarely drink anything else, so they think milk is a treat.”
- Dinnertime is early, so the kids snack on fruit before bedtime.
MY TAKE-AWAY: Bita seemed really concerned that her family meals lack variety, and she even commented that she felt guilty about not having time to read cookbooks to find new “kid-friendly” foods. But to me, she seems to have figured out how to make mealtimes work for her. To increase variety, I suggested (1) creating a monthly dinner calendar that she plans one night of the month and (2) getting her kids more involved in the food rotation process, like letting them pick out one food for breakfast a week or one lunch item each day. And, I really like that Bita tries to minimize snacking so the kids are hungry for their next meal. And because Bita’s husband is a dentist, they serve non-sugary, non-sticky snacks, like carrots, string cheese or nuts, when the kids do snack. Her kids are pretty good eaters and tend to eat what’s served to them. That’s a huge success in my book.