Food Nazi? (and a winner)

First up, let me just say that you guys love all things compression wear! I had over 230 entries for the CEP compression socks. The lucky winner was number 105, the gorgeous running mama Kim at Finallyfit2011. Congrats Kim! For the rest of you, stay tuned for another great compression-related giveaway in the next couple of days.

And now onto food! I’m often labeled a bit of a zealot when it comes to what I feed my kids. Other parents, for instance, have teased me by threatening to feed my kids hot dogs or take them to McDonald’s. But while I am fairly rigid about the foods my kids eat, I also recognize there has to be some balance in there. In other words, if someone did feed my kids a Happy Meal, I’m not going to freak out.

My biggest goal with feeding my kids is to teach them to enjoy healthy foods. That means giving them real foods at every meal. They eat what the adults eat. I don’t try to sneak vegetables in by disguising them in other foods (ala Jessica Seinfeld) because I want them to learn to like good food. I pack their school lunches 99.9% of the time and those lunches always contain vegetables and fruit. I make sure they get the necessary mix of nutrients breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Now, do they like everything I give them all the time? No, of course not. Do they still love junk and sugar? Of course. And I do let them have treats here and there–the Easter bunny did come to our house and he didn’t pack their baskets with broccoli. But the bottom line is that they’re turning into pretty good eaters. My son, in fact, rarely turns his nose up at any food.

I know I’m not perfect with my approach to my kids food, but from where I stand, it’s my job to give them healthy choices and teach them to appreciate how good real food can be. It’s a fine line–I don’t want to be a food nazi, but I don’t want them inhaling crap all day either. Only time will tell if I’m doing it right.

What are your strategies for raising healthy eaters?

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  1. Jogging with Fiction says

    My mom was the same way as you. My aunts and uncles joke that the only snacks we were allowed as children were carrots. My siblings and I are all really good eaters, especially my brother, though we did go through some rebellious years or maybe it was just because we were poor and in college, so ramen and mac and cheese were all we could afford. Either way, I like your style :)

  2. Leah @ Chasing Atalanta says

    I don't have any kids, but Leo and I have already agreed that if we do have them, NO FAST FOOD, as much as we can control it anyway. :-)

    I bought that Jessica Simpson book, not because I wanted to fool anyone into eating vegetables, but just because I thought some of the recipes sounded good. I've never made a thing from it.

  3. Sarah says

    I don't know where I heard or read this, but I go by the idea that it's the parent's responsibility to provide nutritious food for their children and it's the child's responsibility to eat according to their tastes. That's what I try to do. My son is only 2.5 years old, but he has eaten what we eat since he started table food. Some days he eats everything and other days he picks at what he likes.

  4. Michelle says

    I have to agree with you I'm not a big fan of trying to disguise vegetables. My kids pretty much eat what we eat and since my youngest has proven to be much picker I always try to make sure there's something on the plate I know he'll eat. I don't deny them the occasional McDonald's either. It's really all about striking a balance.

  5. Molly says

    I'm the same way, I let my son buy lunch once a week on pizza day, and their meals always include fruits and veggies. They don't always eat them, but I put them there anyway. I do allow treats, we hit McDonalds on our road trip, and they can have sweets. I try not to make a big deal out of it, because I want them to learn balance.

  6. Katie says

    I'm so glad to see posts like this. I wish I had been raised as a healthier eater – it's been tough to turn that around.

  7. Rene' says

    I definitely try not to be a food nazi. i think that I am like that because i worked on the eating disorders floor at Children's and I saw what crazy, food nazi mom's can do to kids. they are allowed mcdonalds every once in a while, but I pack their lunches and there are fruits and veggies in every lunch. It is hard though. Out of 4 kids I have 2 awesome eaters. these 2 will eat anything. 1 so so eater, you can talk her into it, but she may not be happy and finally one picky, horrible to feed eater. let's just say he eats a lot of cereal and there is no disguising veggies for him, he figures it out. a bit stressful, but we will work through it. happy wednesday.


    I'm pretty much the same as you. They get what they get and they don't throw a fit. I pack their lunches everyday. We eat relatively healthy, very little processed foods, no red meat, pork or poultry in our home (they can order what they like when out). And they are learning balance. Sweet and junk happen, just not to excess. I think you are doing the right things.

  9. Kovas says

    We just make sure the kids try new things regularly and treat some healthy stuff as treats so that they ask for that when it's time.

  10. Running Mama says

    I love Jessica's book, but I too agree we should show them the veggies. When I bought that book my 1st and 3rd grader panicked, stole it and read it in their room so they would know what I was sneaking into their meals. :)

    Speaking of teaching our kids how to be healthy…Little Mama is sitting on the couch w/ stomach pains from all the Easter candy she apparently ate in the wee hours of the morning. :/ Poor girl. That darn Easter Bunny needs to set a better example!

  11. Johann says

    I'm 100% with you on this one. My son always eat the same as the adults (me) eat. Unfortunately this adult can sometimes go way off the path of good eating and then the son follows the example I set. In the end I hope it brings a good balance of eating habits for both of us.

  12. JenniferLeah says

    Congrats Kim!! She is certainly on a roll with the winnings lately :) and yes, she GorGeouS huh?? (she is my cuz but not biased at all!! LOL)

    My daughter is being raised eating lots of clean foods and it not picky. She actually prefers bluberries and stawberries to candy although she loves potato chips too. I think as long as we set an example of good eating, they will follow–

  13. Jennifer says

    Bravo! I do not have my own kids but see so many of my college students, now young adults dealing with a life time of bad habits and complete ignorance about good food culture. We have to start them young!

  14. ashleys says

    I totally agree about the idea of them eating what the grown-ups eat. I am just hoping that my son hasn't & won't figure out how to dump the food he doesn't want to eat at school like I have seen the other kids do! They still think that homemade smoothies are treats!!
    I have a bit of a sweet tooth though – which I see rubbing off on them.

  15. Pretend this is real says

    Sounds like a great system. Too few people teach their kids the importance of healthy eating.

  16. Shellyrm ~ just a country runner says

    I wish I was more strict on this one. I crave waaay too often. Luckily, my daughter does like lots of veggies and fruit (thanks to me eating mainly those all the time) and the little guy will try anything and loves what mommy is eating! I try to not make food a reward or punishment so that the focus is not about the food but about sharing time together at meals and in the kitchen. I don't think there is a "right" way. It's just about finding the balance that works to provide the family with the guidance to make life long healthy chooses.

    Congrats to your winner!
    (They's make a nice late Easter gift!…oh here's my address so she can send them to me. heehee)

  17. Jill says

    You're an awesome mom!!!
    I'll talk to you this summer about some of the things with my twins I have had to do.

  18. giraffy says

    I totally, totally agree with you on the non-hiding of veg. I cannot stand that method.

    I do my best to make food interesting and fun – that means they do a lot of shopping with me, we hit the farmers market often (well, when I'm not in training and the market falls on my long run days), and they get to try a variety of things, there are foods we don't normally see, and they get to help pick what we eat.

  19. racing dawn says

    You are right on the money. I think it's so great to hear my kids ask for a salad. And oh yeah they want treats, but they understand the value of healthy food. Life lessons at their best!!!

  20. Finallyfit2011 says

    YAY! Thanks so much! All this cool gear is very new to me so I'm so excited to try these!!! And thx for the compliment (blushing) – misszippy & cuz Jennifer! xoxo
    I have been guilty of the "feeding the kids a different meal" ALL TO OFTEN! But now am trying to incorporate my healthy eating habit into their meals. It's exciting to see them ask what I'm eating, try it…and actually LIKE IT!!!

  21. J says

    You sound like my mom – I used to call her the mean ruler! She never let me have junk food, but she did teach me how to eat right and to enjoy fruits, vegetable and a balanced meal every day!

  22. Leah B. says

    I don't have kids but I'm sure I'd be just like you when it comes to junk and fast food! It looks like you are doing a great job with your little healthy eaters :)

  23. ModernMom says

    We try and do everything in moderation. I always remember the girl who lived across the hall from me in University. She had never been allowed junk, pop, chips, nada. She put on 15 pound in 3 months.
    Fingers crossed that exposure to all kinds of food will create healthy eaters.

  24. Marlene says

    Well I don't have kids myself but I definitely agree with this approach. I think it's so valuable that you are teaching your kids the value of a balanced, healthy diet and hopefully they are learning to love it in the process!

  25. ShutUpandRun says

    Rules in our house: no special meals, we all eat the same thing. This exposes kids to a wider variety of stuff. Everything in moderation – including dessert and popcorn. Wide, wide variety of foods that everyone has to try but not love. Also wide variety of ethnic foods – Greek, Asian, Lebanese, etc. I try to cook everything from scratch to omit salt, perservations, plus just tastes better.

  26. XLMIC says

    You are so good! Wow! I wish I were a little more of a food nazi (though my kids think I'm plenty nazi-ish) but I do strive to offer only nutritious things at mealtimes. There are hotdogs but nitrate/nitrite-free. Not enough veggies though :( But we don't do fastfood…my kids had McD's for the first time ever two weeks ago when we were in France. It was such an unusual event it made it into a blog post with pictures :P. I have always been known in my circle as the sleep nazi.

  27. Julia says

    I think this is awesome! I have never really been a picky eater so I do not think my mom had to work too hard to get me to like things…but she was great at always making a balanced meal and requiring us to eat a little bit of everything. I never really remember feeling forced…it was always just expected. Plus our fam was always big on dessert so that made up for it :)

  28. Samantha says

    I'm not a mom…but definitely everything in moderation is the way to go.

    If I ever have children I pledge to feed my kids healthy foods with a small splurge on sweets once in while.

  29. Rose @ Eat, Drink, and Be Meiri says

    That's pretty much how my mom fed us. And all of my siblings and I will pretty much eat anything. We each have a few things we honestly don't like the taste of, but everything else is fair game.

  30. Terzah says

    I like your strategy too. It's hard not to micromanage for me, as I'm terrified of the childhood obesity thing and want my kids (esp. my daughter) not to ever have to worry about weight or have body image issues like I do. We are w/ grandparents right now and I'm trying to be chill about all the candy etc. We don't live near them, so when we get home, it should be fine to go back to our routine (which resembles yours). But I'm still shuddering at all the chocolate around here right now…..

  31. reedrunner says

    I was brought up eating healthy food. Plenty of fruit and veg. Food hasn't ever been an issue. I'll try anything. Same goes for my husband.
    Dearly we would love things to be the same for our son, but unfortunately this has not been so. Even as a baby, he just didn't get it. He would take a little milk, get bored then stop feeding. He would then get hungry again (and cranky) but it wouldn't occur to him that he was hungry. And no matter how hard we tried, we couldn't force the milk down him.
    Things have continued pretty much in the same way as he has grown. He is now 4. We haven't ever given up or given in to him. Healthy food is always available to him.
    It's a constant battle. It's all very well saying that you should make them eat what's on their plate and "If they're hungry, they will eat it" etc. Trust me – they won't. Anyone who says that hasn't had to deal with a strong willed child. A child who collapses from exhaustion. A child who is too tired to learn. A child who has to sleep so much because he completely runs out of energy.All of this due to lack of food. A child who becomes so stressed about sitting at a table no food can pass his lips.
    It goes on and on. It has pushed me and my husband to absolute breaking point at times and puts a huge strain on our marriage. But we do not give up.
    Things have slowly got slightly better. We can get certain fruits into him and he loves pouches of pureed vegetables (baby food!) But feeding my son has been one of the biggest and most stressful challenges of my life.

  32. Teamarcia says

    Growing up we didn't have processed crap and that's how I keep it. I cook a ton and pack their lunches daily. I do get pressure because they want a bag of chips or a Capri Sun like they see other kids bringing.
    With my kids, one is pickier than the other and I chalk it up to genetics…she takes after her father. ; )
    I think you're doing great!

  33. Coy Martinez says

    You and Jamie Oliver need to go on tour! The world needs better eating kids to teach their kids and so on. I live in a state and city where obesity is king. Yuck. I'm frowned upon as a runner. No kidding. I mean, what do I think I'm doing? :)

    I put it on their plate. They eat because they're hungry. All you said what correct!

  34. Char says

    It's definitely worth the effort to get your kids eating well. I used to insist that they try everything on their plate even if it was just one piece of broccoli and now all of them are quite adventurous eaters.

  35. Lisa {} says

    Amen, sister! I agree completely with everything you said. I, too, often feel like the "weird mom" because I'm pretty particular about what I let my kids eat. Honestly, I'm shocked at what it seems like most people feed their families, and I'm downright frustrated with the food offered in the schools (hence, I pack my kids' lunches). It seems like there's beginning to be a bigger shift in the way we think about food–at least, I hope so. I think SO MANY of today's ailments have A LOT to do with what we're putting into our bodies, and what we're not putting into our bodies. I hope people keep talking about this so that it doesn't keep getting swept under the rug. Thanks for bringing it up!!

  36. Amanda - RunToTheFinish says

    i think what you are doing is great. i wish my mom had introduced more whole foods to me as a kid and kids tend to learn to love all those things they learn at home

  37. runningonwords says

    I am absolutely terrified of this! I'm not a healthy eater because I hate healthy food and I don't want my kids to inherit this. I just can't figure out how to make myself like stuff that is good for me.

  38. Pam says

    On a somewhat related subject, did you see this article? Specifically the "orthorexia" part. It INFURIATED me that they are trying to label healthy eating as a disorder.

  39. Raquelita says

    I'm not a mom, but I just wanted to say brava! I think you have a smart take on this. I grew up eating mostly fruits and vegetables for snacks and whole foods. We had the occasional fast food treat or ice cream cone, but I'm so grateful that I grew up with a sense of healthful eating. (Now if I could just get portion control down.)

  40. Wifey says

    I love this. No broccoli in their Easter baskets? LOL! You're such an inspiration. I'm striving to do better in this area and you just proved its doable! Thank you!

    Winks & Smiles,

  41. thea says

    I'm right there with you. I have 2.5 year old twins, and it shocks me the stuff some kis are fed. We started feeding them our food shortly after their first birthday and haven't looked back. I will occasionally deconstruct a dish for them so they can see all the ingridients. I've also found that they'll try any vegetable we grow or cook together. Something about cutting vegetables entices them to sample while they cut. Can't get my daughter to touch a veggie on her plate, but if it's on her cutting board, she can't get enough!

  42. Average A says

    I don't have kids, but I sure would have appreciated this growing up. We didn't have a lot of money when we were growing up, so we fell victim to the whole "buy what's cheapest" thing, which often included granola bars that had more sugar than candy bars, and lots of packaged things. I'm a finicky eater now (though I do still love dessert!), but I can't stand the processed junk. Wish I had discovered that earlier in life.

  43. Jason says

    My strategy is simple. I tell my step-son that if you eat McDonald's or Carls Jr that your butt will get big and you won't have any muscles. That he needs to eat all his vegetables if he wants to look like Popeye.

    If that doesn't work I strap him down and force feed pureed fruit and vegetable through a funnel…..LOL!!!!!

    I honestly just talk to him about it and while he doesn't understand it all he does tell me how much better he feels when he eats the 'good' stuff.

  44. Caratunk Girl says

    I don't have kids, but my friend who has 3 kids was telling me a great story about how her 7 year old son wanted to get school lunch to try "that stuff" the kids eat (Maine school lunches are very processed and unhealthy BTW, like McDonalds unhealthy). At first she said no, but then she decided on 2 days a week letting him pick (by looking at the menu) what days he wanted school lunch..

    After 1 month – he asked her if she would make him lunch all the time, he didn't want school lunch anymore because it didn't taste as good as her lunch. I thought it was pretty cool how that worked out – I have no idea how she did it though…neither does she really. ha ha

  45. Fran says

    I don't have children myself but if I would I would do the same as you are doing. I was raised the way you are raising your kids and I'm glad about that.

  46. Jess @ Blonde Ponytail says

    I really like your approach with food–let them develop healthy eating habits and KNOW what foods they like!

    They are beautiful kiddos!!

  47. Mary Beth says

    I'm new here but you've met my husband. :)
    We model healthy habits and quite simply the food we have in the house is what they have to choose from.
    The other thing to consider is grow a vegetable garden. Getting kids outside and having them play an active role in the garden helps.
    Great blog!

  48. Kim says

    I don't have kids, but I might someday and the subject of food is always one of the scarier things that crosses my mind when thinking about raising children. Sounds like you have it down!! Awesome!