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Feeding kids who are hooked on junk.

So my boyfriend recently went vegan, which is great, but the problem is that he has three kids...and two of which cry when you try to feed them anything remotely healthy. (They spend a lot of time with their grandma who let's them eat chips, pizza, chicken nuggets and ice cream whenever they want it, and now they think they have a right to eat whatever they feel like eating whenever they want to eat it.)

And now we've stopped buying them things like milk and chicken nuggets and all the things they're accustomed to...and I've been searching on the internet for vegan meals to make for kids, but it's all healthy stuff they wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. And I've also been trying to find articles for transition foods...you know, stuff that will ween their taste buds off the junk and on to stuff that wont give them diabetes, but I'm coming up empty.

So I was hoping that someone here might have experience with this kind of thing, or some ideas. It doesn't even have to be completely vegan as long as it's vegetarian and relatively healthy.

So far all I've been able to come up with is spaghetti, morning star chicken nuggets, and pb&j...and of course they love fruit, but I'm trying to do something about their ridiculous sugar habit before it becomes a serious health problem.

Seriously, the youngest one will scream if you even make her look at a vegetable. I don't know what to do.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
handstil
May. 7th, 2011 03:07 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I went through a similar thing with my husband's mom when my oldest was a baby. She fed him ice cream for breakfast, etc. I recommend telling her as nicely as possible that while you appreciate her desire to spoil the kids, you are trying to teach them healthy eating habits that they will carry their entire lives. Hopefully she will be guilted into cooperation. ;)

My kids are vegan and we don't eat any soy processed crap at all unless we're at a party or it's a very special occasion. It was a struggle to make the transition for my 9 year old but my 3 year old has never known anything else and he eats a really well-rounded whole food diet. Tons of beans and veggies!

Some foods that helped my 9 year old; avocado instead of cheese (especially with salt and lemon juice on it) on sandwiches and burritos, beans in tortillas instead of cheese (beanadilla!), Toasted chikpea patties, hummus pita pockets with cucumber, dipping broccoli in tahini dressing, kale sauteed with olive oil and garlic on anything... I try to make meals that we can all eat so I don't end up making two dinner, but that obviously happens when I make a curry or something else spicy. Tempeh "bacon" is also a favorite for TLT sandwiches! Veganaise, lettuce, tomato, and tempeh!

I'm sure you already know this, but I feel like I have to mention it when people are newly vegan and feeding kids; they MUST have a b12 supplement. Rainbow Light kids makes some tasty vegan multis!

A final note; children will not starve themselves, they will eventually eat a vegetable so long as they aren't taught that if they yell enough someone will hand them a cookie instead. ;)
freetobeme
May. 7th, 2011 04:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I never eat anything made from processed soy. I pretty much avoid processed everything, but especially the fake meats and whatnot. (I don't need that stuff...I never liked meat in the first place!)

That's one thing that makes it more complicated: the kids don't have too much choice when they're with us because we don't keep much junk around, but they eat whatever they want when they're with mom or (especially) grandma.

I think the kids are getting pretty confused because they WANT the junk food because they're addicted to it and it's what they're used to, but they understand dad's logic on not wanting to eat meat and dairy...so now mom is mad that the kids don't want to drink milk anymore because it's making her job harder...and we're (okay, I'm) mad because nobody else is making them eat healthy which makes our job harder...it's like the kids have three sets of parents who are all feeding them different stuff.

And yeah, my number one battle is: don't cave! Don't give them the icecream because they cried for 45 minutes when you tried to feed them corn. They're not going to starve.

My whole tactic is to try to feed them something healthy and if they don't want it and they ask for something unhealthy, I just want to calmly wait until they're hungry enough to eat what we offered them (or even just ask for something else that's healthy. I'm totally willing to be flexible if it means they'll eat something good)...but my boyfriend doesn't have much patience. He just yells at them to eat the corn and then lets them halve the ice cream a half an hour later. So I'm kind of fighting against him too because I see how his behavior is feeding into their whining.

I don't know. It's like...it's so much easier to cut things out of their diet than it is to add things. They're soooo picky.

But I'm definitely going to pass your suggestions on to my boyfriend and see if he thinks we can get the kids to try some of that stuff. Because OMG, I LOVE avocado, but I don't know how the kids feel about it.
cloudillusion
May. 7th, 2011 03:15 pm (UTC)
Since you're already planning on pasta dishes, sneak some vegetables into the sauce. It sounds like they'd balk at pieces of veggies in sauce, so use a food processor to puree a bunch of them smooth first (zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, onions, etc.), then stir into the sauce as you're heating it. They'll never know (and it'll make a basic jarred sauce taste better, too).

Things like quesadillas/enchiladas/anything wrapped in tortillas are pretty simple to "hide" veggies in, too.

Do they like burgers? You might try out some recipes for veggie burgers. They're not going to taste like McDonald's, but you can still make them taste pretty darn good, and you can top them with the standard kid condiments, whatever they want. If you want to try some store-bought ones first, my kids' (and my) favorites are Morningstar's black bean burgers.

Also - sounds like you're going to have to start them out small on the veggie department. We have a rule at our house - the kids can say "no thank you" about things at the dinner table, but if they're going to do that, they have to take at least one bite (size determined by the parent; tiny nibbles don't count!) of whatever they're refusing. We call it the No Thank You Bite. Sometimes that's the only bite of the disliked food they take; other times they've surprised us by continuing to eat it. I was a picky eater as a kid, and only realized much later that "I don't like that" really meant, for me, "I've never even tried that."

Good luck!
freetobeme
May. 7th, 2011 04:28 pm (UTC)
Yeah, the older kids are pretty good about having a spoonful of whatever they don't want (one complains a lot but will eventually eat it), but the youngest (she's five) just starts bawling and screaming and it's literally an hour long battle to get her to put three peas in her mouth. and yeah, that's totally happened...she'll cry for an hour and then she'll eat three spoonfuls (she thinks she hates peas a lot more than she really does)...and I can never decide if I'm excited or I want to strangle her.

Like it's amazing...you say peas or carrots and she's just hysterical immediately.

She's clearly not old enough to grasp the fact that eating a spoonful of a veggie you don't like is WAY less stressful than arguing about it and trying to not eat it.

I think part of the problem is that she's a huge crier and she's become very much accustomed to never having to do anything she doesn't want to do because nobody wants to deal with her when she's upset.

And you know, I feel like it's a battle we have to fight because she eats the worst out of all of them.
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