Wednesday afternoon I participated in a very informative conference call with Michelle Dudash, a certified Cordon Bleu chef and author of the highly praised book, Clean Eating for Busy Families.
Michelle had SO many great tips for those of us looking to encourage healthy habits for kids and get more nutritious food into the tummies of our little ones. She also shared some news about the Walmart Foundation that REALLY impressed me. This nonprofit arm of Walmart has dedicated $2 BILLION in cash and in-kind donations through 2015 to help fight hunger in America. That is simply outstanding!
One of the ways that money is being spent is through a $6.7 million series of grants to 5 national nonprofits that are providing 250,000 Americans with access to school breakfasts and nutrition education programs.
During our conversation, Michelle shared some of her top tips for encouraging healthy eating habits in your family. Here are the ones that really stood out to me as things I need to implement:
Get Kids in the Kitchen!
Darah likes to help me prepare food, but as we all know, when little ones want to “help” it really just means more work for the head chef! However, studies have shown that children are more likely to eat food that they help prepare. I need to keep in mind that spending an extra 5-10 minutes on dinner because I had a little helper will pay dividends in the form of a peaceful meal with no whining and complaints such as, “This is yucky!”
You Can Prepare Breakfast Ahead of Time!
My family loves to have a hot breakfast. I try to accommodate that wish as much as possible, but there are certainly days when I just don’t have time. And truth be told, I usually reach for a box of cereal or a bag of bagels that is made with enriched flour. Michelle shared that she actually makes a batch of boiled eggs once a week and keeps them in her fridge. They are one of the very best sources of protein, and as compared to other protein sources, are also one of the least expensive. What a great idea! Reaching for an egg is even faster than reaching for a bagel!
Tips for Getting Through a “Food Funk”
I think we’ve all witnessed our kids clinging to a particular food for a few days or weeks or maybe even months. My oldest gets on a cracker kick that just can’t be stopped. Same goes for peanut butter. Michelle reminded us all that the child will move past those finicky habits eventually, but while we are waiting them out, we just need to make sure we are giving them the most nutritious options possible. For example, if you are making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for one of your kids, be sure you have switched to whole wheat bread, a peanut butter with no sugar added, and a natural jelly. If your kid balks at that option, maybe they are ready to come out of that particular food funk! 🙂
Organic or No High Fructose Corn Syrup…Which to Choose?
I asked Michelle which one was the lesser of two evils…non-organic produce or high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). I asked this question because we have to watch our pennies in the store, and that means that I can’t fill my cart with every single thing I’d like to get for my family. I simply have to choose. Michelle gave some really helpful advice here. She said that nutritionally, there isn’t too much difference between organic and non-organic food, so while she recommends purchasing it whenever you can, she says to skip it if your budget just won’t allow for it.
As far as avoiding HFCS, Michelle is definitely in favor of doing so, but she said, “If a product is $1 more because it is made with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, it doesn’t make a difference. Sugar is sugar!” I don’t think Michelle is saying not to worry about HFCS, because it really is a nasty ingredient, but rather, to be more concerned about sugar consumption altogether, whatever its form. Don’t be so quick to assume that you’ve purchased a “healthy” product just because the sugar in it isn’t HFCS. That’s a light bulb moment for me!
What questions would you love to ask someone like Michelle? And do you have any tips for encouraging healthy habits for kids? Please share! I think we could also use some helpful hints!
This is a sponsored conversation with The Motherhood. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are strictly my own.