How I Got My Kid to Eat Healthier - Part 1

I’ve been interested in fitness and nutrition for a long time, but I didn’t really start changing how we ate until my daughter was about 3 or 4 years old. The reason it took so long? I had the wrong information.

We were on the no-processed-grain-left-behind program. 

Cereal every morning for breakfast. Goldfish crackers and corn puffs for snacks. Kraft mac and cheese and chicken nuggets for lunch. Not a single vegetable adorned her plate at dinner, but pasta and bread were nightly staples. And Oreos for dessert was non-negotiable. 

Suffice to say that by 4 years old, she had some pretty ingrained habits.

Her favorite food at 1 year old: Oreos.

Her favorite food at 1 year old: Oreos.

If you’re a parent it goes without saying that you’d do anything to keep your children happy and healthy.

But kids…they have minds of their own. Especially once they get beyond the age of three and certain precedents, habits, and expectations have begun to solidify. It can be really difficult to make changes.

This becomes glaringly apparent when you attempt to make changes to what they eat. Bad habits are hard to break, especially in kids. They don’t understand why you all of a sudden won’t feed them Kraft macaroni and cheese and hot dogs any more.

We all want our kids to be healthy. Teaching our children about the healing power of food is one of the best gifts we can bestow upon them.

To live a happy and fulfilled life you must be living in a healthy body.

To those moms with children under age three, or perhaps with a baby on the way, start now! Educate yourself about nutrition, start feeding yourself well, and then get your kids started right! It’s much easier to prevent bad habits than to try to break them later.

For the rest of us whose kids are beyond the age of 4 and who unknowingly made mistakes and got the ball rolling in the wrong direction, there’s still hope!

This is how I got my daughter to begin eating healthier.

I took an interest in learning about nutrition. What I learned completely blew me away. Everything we’ve been told for the past 50 years…by our government…by our doctors…by the food and drug and diet companies…is at best, false, and at worst harmful. We TRUSTED these people and these companies. We TRUSTED the government guidelines. We trusted them with our health and the health of our children. And they failed us. Plain and simple. They padded their wallets while we did the same to our waistlines. And they knew it. They still know it. We’re in the middle of a health crisis that has largely been caused by misinformation and meddling by these large industries. Most of our kids will live shorter and less healthful lives than us. Many of them will die from diseases that are 100% preventable. If you take control of your health and set the example for your kids, you can help to stop this tidal wave of poor health!

I started eating healthier first. After learning what I learned, I couldn’t unlearn it. So the only thing I could do was take action and begin to change how we lived. But it started with me. I couldn’t very well tell my daughter that cereal and bagels were bad for her if I was still eating those things on the regular. So I change my habits first. I decided to live my purpose and set the example that I wanted her to follow.

I fostered initial changes by making easy swaps…the kind that she was unlikely to notice. Here are a few of the simple swaps I made:

These are her favorite "Big Girl" yogurts. They contain about 1/2 the sugar of the kid varieties!

These are her favorite "Big Girl" yogurts. They contain about 1/2 the sugar of the kid varieties!

  • I switched from the chemically-processed and sugar-added peanut butters to the natural kind that only contain one ingredient: peanuts.
  • I swapped real maple syrup in place of the fraud that is Aunt Jemima.
  • I switched from margarine and highly processed fake fats to extra virgin olive oil and real butter sourced from grass-fed cows, sheep, and goats.
  • Wonder bread turned into whole wheat white bread - and eventually I switched to organic 100% whole wheat bread.
  • I stopped using fake “cheese-like products” such as Velveeta and Kraft American cheese, and we now eat only REAL cheese.
  • I began using nitrate/nitrite-free bacon, lunch meats, and hot dogs.
  • I started buying her "big girl" yogurt instead of the sugar-laden kid varieties.
  • I watered down the juice until it was mostly water...and then stopped giving her juice entirely.
  • I got rid of sugar-laden kid cereals (which are no better than feeding your kid Oreos for breakfast), and provided lower-sugar cereals like Cheerios and Life in their place. I eventually eliminated cereal altogether because it's all complete crap.

Most of these upgrades and changes went unnoticed. And when she did notice something, I just shrugged my shoulders and acted like she was imagining things.

I stopped buying junk…not all at once…but little by little I just stopped bringing it into my house. You won’t find boxes of cereal, mac and cheese, Hamburger Helper, or Rice-a-Roni in my cabinets. There’s no bologna, Country Crock, or apple juice in the fridge. I control what comes into the house. So until my kid can drive and has a job, I ultimately have control over the food.

I told some white lies. When she asked where the Pillsbury Toaster Strudels went at breakfast, I told her they had stopped making them. It wasn’t a total lie…for a while I actually could not find the flavor she liked. It effectively weaned her off of those nasty things. I used this trick and it worked to eliminate several other junk foods when she was younger. Now that she’s older, I simply tell her the truth: I’m not wasting my money on that junk any more. Every now and then I’ll buy something as a treat, but otherwise I stick to my guns. Our kids do not need to eat these fake foods that are loaded with chemicals, inflammatory fats, and sugar...every. damn. day.

Stay tuned...

Part 2 of How I Got My Kid to Eat Healthier will be posted next week!


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If you're a concerned mom like me and know it's time to make changes to your lifestyle but you don't know where to start or you need support, you are in the right place! My programs and services are not about getting the perfect body or dropping 30 pounds in 30 days. I help my clients make sustainable changes in lifestyle that support whole health - body, mind, and spirit.


My goal is to empower moms to create health in their own bodies so they can live lives they love and also have a positive impact on the health of their children.


kelly bailey