As the mom of a toddler, I wonder all the time if my son is eating the best diet possible. Is it varied enough? Has he had enough fruits and veggies today? Does he eat too many hot dogs? Should I be concerned about his absolute refusal to even taste broccoli? When he was a baby it was a no-brainer: he was breastfed so I knew he was getting the perfect nutrition served up 24/7. Now things are a bit trickier.
I decided to look up what a kid of my son's age and weight should be eating. Thankfully the US government has created a food pyramid guide for pre-school age kids. You simply enter your kid's age, sex and activity level and you'll get a personalized look at what they should be eating. For our 2-year-old who gets more than 60 minutes of physical activity a day, he needs 3 ounces of grains, 1 cup of vegetables, 1 cup of fruit, 2 cups of milk and 2 ounces of protein and beans.
Are you surprised at easily attainable that seems? I was. I figured he'd need much more protein than that (how many times have I begged him to have one more bite of his burger?) and a lot more vegetables. In fact, I think he gets much more fruit and veg than this every day.
What if your kid is a picky eater? First of all, it's perfectly normal for toddlers to be picky eaters. A food they love on Monday will be refused on Tuesday (or vice versa...my kid wouldn't even look at eggs until yesterday when he hate most of mine off my plate. Today he asked for eggs again. Go figure!) I think the best thing you can do is to continue to offer them a wide variety of foods instead of just sticking to things that are "kid friendly" like macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets. Your kid might surprise you with just how sophisticated his palate is. I can remember being shocked when I made a baked brie and my son couldn't get enough of it and he was only 1.
When you need some inspiration, you can check out the many food blogs dedicated to toddlers. One I especially love is Weelicious. I love that she offers her kids a diet of whole foods and includes many recipes that are vegeterian and vegan. And none of this hiding vegetables in the brownies crap on this site. Her recipes highlight the good stuff and she doesn't assume that kids won't like vegetables if you serve them in healthy, tasty ways.
How do you keep your kids eating healthy? What are their favorite meals and snacks? I'm always looking for new ideas to keep our meals interesting AND healthy.