How to Strive for Balance with My Kids’ Meals


A kid eating a balanced meal for lunch.As a mom, I strive to do everything I can to provide the healthiest meals so my kids can get all their nutrients. That is until they don’t eat what I give them.

My children are now going through a stage where they only want to eat waffles, French fries, chicken fingers, pizza, pasta, and bread. You know, the traditional American convenience foods. And snacks! Anything that comes in a package – they will eat it—potato chips, goldfish, cookies, doughnuts, veggie straws, and the like.

No matter how I try, my children prefer these foods. Reading all of the articles about starting your child early with healthier foods and limiting the frequency of convenience foods, you would most certainly think that the children would shun these foods, right?

Well, let me tell you. My experience has been different. When my children were younger, I was all about giving them fruit, veggies, water, and various balanced meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They ate whatever I gave them, mainly (I mean, the veggies; they ate them a bit more than they do now).

The foods I can get them to eat now are limited and a bit basic at best. I can get them to eat apples, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, Greek yogurt, broccoli (sometimes), chicken, hot dogs, eggs (not the three-year-old), juice cut with water, and cheese. This is coming from an unofficial foodie who LOVES to go out and partake in different cuisines from up-and-coming restaurants all over Westchester and in Connecticut, but I digress.

For now, I will need to stick to basic foods to ensure that my children are getting as many nutrients as possible.

In addition, since they are now eating outside of the home (i.e., school, camp, relatives’ homes, and restaurants), I have to put in as much effort as possible to ensure a balanced meal. Unfortunately, I am not always around to police what the kids eat. However, it is my goal to teach my kids to be able to put a meal together with what is available.

I always provide protein, a fruit or veggie (most often a fruit), and some carbohydrates. As I instill this practice every time I give them a meal, it teaches them to see what a balanced plate looks like. I know you are probably reading this and think I am crazy or obsessed. At some point, I am.

I am obsessed with this because I am obese. I have been overweight or obese for the majority of my life. I am fighting it with every grain of my being so that I can get back to a healthy weight. In doing this, I have seen what the choices I made every day up until this moment have done to my body. I do not want my kids to experience this life.

I am relatively healthy. I have normal blood pressure, average blood sugar, and average cholesterol – a textbook copy of health, except for my weight, over 300 pounds. I do not want to experience the body breakdown that can happen at this elevated weight. I actively move my body and work daily to make better food choices so the scale can get back to an average height (I am 5’6”).

Watching my children’s plates is going to help instill better food choices so that they will not have to fight the obesity epidemic that is plaguing our society. I am not super strict with what they eat; I allow snacks in the house, and they eat French fries, fried chicken, and the like. I don’t berate my children for eating snacks. They need to learn to be in society with all these food choices. They need to be kids. I get it.

I am making it my business to instill these values and visuals so that they can bring them along on their trip around the Earth. My one tip for getting kids to eat some additional healthy food is to eat it yourself while you are around your kids.

When I am prepping veggies to cook or to snack on (bell peppers, celery, cucumber, carrots), they always want to have some of what I am having. They may not eat it if I put it on their plate, but they are more willing to have some if I am eating some while sitting around them.

It seems like food always tastes better from Mom’s plate! No matter what, I will strive for balance and be a role model for my children. 

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Joni Manradge is a wife and a mommy to two littles and lives in lower Westchester County. She loves challenging her body and building the best life possible by focusing on her health and fitness. She loves to lift heavy weights, and loves SoulCycle. She is focused on her weight loss journey. She is also an amateur foodie (read LOVES to go to new and existing food establishments that serve fabulous food) and loves all things wine and champagne. She also loves the outdoors and to sit and listen to the water hit the beach.


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