5 Philosophies for Raising Healthy Eaters


I ran into my friend at the gym the other day. We chatted and caught up on all the big and small events of the last year or so since we’d last spoken. She told me some of her frustrations when it came to including her family in her healthy eating pursuits. On her way to realizing her personal goals she was left making one healthy meal for herself and another separate one that her kids would actually eat. I’m sure there are a lot of people who have experienced or are experiencing this same predicament.
That got me thinking…
So I hope this doesn't sound self-congratulatory or like I've got it all figured out (because I most definitely do not), but I will say that when it comes to my kids and food, we've got a pretty good handle on it. I am so grateful that I was prepared with an arsenal of healthy gluten free, or at the very least, meals that I could easily convert to gluten free before we had to adjust our family's diet when my youngest daugher was diagnosed with autoimmune enteropathy.  Not only was I prepared with recipes and know-how; so was my family. My kids were raised with these healthy eating philosophies before we ever had to cut out the gluten.

In an emotional eating, preservative-filled, processed world of food, having a handle on things is saying something. When anything containing gluten/wheat had to be banned from your house and your kids don’t mutiny, it’s probably safe to say that we’re doing something right.
That’s not to say that we never have a dinnertime battle over eating veggies, but the instances are far and few between. As a parent who sometimes feels bombarded with all the do's and don’ts of raising kids, it’s a relief to know that when adopting these philosophies its totally okay to adapt them to fit your family’s unique needs. With that said, for there to be real, healthy habits created, no matter how you choose to approach it you must embrace it together as a family!

Here are 5 Philosophies for Raising Healthy Eaters

#1 Show Some Food Gratitude

Be grateful for the food you have while simultaneously being aware of how lucky you are to live in a place where food is abundant. Saying a blessing on the food, thanking the cook for preparing it, and being polite about how it looks or tastes. This philosophy has become much more of an ideology since going gluten free. Because eating gluten free can be so much more expensive. We've really had to use our resources and food wisely. This has taught my kids and myself to be grateful for the food we have and to not waste it. Being grateful is tied to all the other philosophies because food is something that shapes how well we feel, look, and act. It is powerful and having gratitude and respect for the food that creates and supports a healthy individual is so important.

#2 Food Prep Participation

I don’t usually ask my kids what they’d like for dinner. That’s the quickest way to start a dinnertime battle. Unless, someone suggests a favorite healthy meal, then of course I’ll make it! I do, however, let them help me prepare what I've chosen. I've found that letting my kids make some choices and then including them in preparing a big family meal they’re much more likely to eat it -- even if it’s something they might not have otherwise liked. Tate, my 9-year-old can chop vegetables, make himself scrabbled eggs in the morning and usually asks who else would like some. Even Miah my 3-year-old can crack an egg and help me dump pre-measured ingredients into the bowl. I let Allie, my 6-year-old picky eater choose the veggie side. I give her two choices where either will be a good choice and then have her help me put it together. “Would you like a salad or peas tonight?” They also participate in the clean up! As my kids get older and more able to, I plan on asking them to be in charge of making an entire meal for the family. This is just a good skill to know and will teach them some food gratitude. 


#3 “You don’t have to love it, you just have to try it!”

I never ask my kids to “clean” their plate. I do tell them when eating something they aren't particularly thrilled about, “You don’t have to love it you just have to try it!” And by try it I mean eat at least one bite for however old they are (i.e. my six year old needs to try 6 bites of her salmon before she can decide whether or not she loves it). We don’t waste food, either. If someone decides they aren't hungry enough to try something it can be put in the fridge and tried later when they are hungry. ” I don’t run a restaurant”. Meaning, I make one meal that everyone eats and unless we have a dessert after dinner, that’s all there is to eat. The kitchen is closed once the dinner dishes are done.

#4 Positive and Educational Eating Experience

This began with my oldest son, who is a self-proclaimed scientist. He has always been full of questions about how the world works and why. So one day when I told him to eat his broccoli he asked, “why?” and that’s when I started teaching my kids not only to try new, healthy foods, but why they should. Letting my finicky eater Allie know that eating salmon and greens will make her even more beautiful and smart than she already is. Congratulating them on trying their bites even if they say they still don’t love it. Tell them, “that’s okay”, because the next time they try it their taste buds might be grown up enough to like it. We made up a game where if they tried to pick apart their food, I’d tell them to close their eyes while I took a big scoop and put it in their mouth, then they had to guess all the ingredients. They’d be so surprised when they looked at their plate to see all the things they’d picked out had been eaten…and it wasn't poisonous!

#5 Be an Example of a Healthy Eater

Actions speak louder than words. This was especially true when Miah was diagnosed with Celiac disease. We had to make the change to eating totally gluten free and also chose to cut out almost all processed and non-organic food from our diet, but we had to do it as family. That began with Alex and I leading by example. The final philosophy is being an example of a healthy eater by having a healthy relationship with food your self. I've seen my kids mimic some of my flawed behavior or attitudes and have had to reevaluate myself. No one is perfect and no one expects you or I to be. Just doing our best and setting a good example is all anyone can ask. Also, I've found that kids can be amazingly supportive. If they feel like an important part of a family effort to eat healthy they can be a huge encouragement and help reinforce all these philosophies.





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Melissa Moore has spent years researching and implementing nutritionally-based approaches to health and wellness. Her lifelong love of food and health evolved from a hobby to a passion when her daughter was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease.

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