Episode 133 – Drew Manning
Hey everyone, it’s me, Drew Manning here. Thank you guys for tuning into the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. I really appreciate that. So today I want to do a little bit different approach to the Podcast. Usually I have on an awesome guest that I interview and I learn a lot, you learn a lot from them, but every once in a while, it’ll just be me. And today is just a ‘me session’, so bear with me here. *chuckles* You guys know that usually when I open up and do a Podcast where it’s just me, I kind of get vulnerable with you guys and open up about personal things. Now today, I want to talk about me being a dad and how I get my kids to eat healthy. Because I know there are so many other parents out there that struggle with this and they ask me all the time, ‘how do you get your kids to eat healthy’? So I am going to list the top 8 things that help me to get my kids to eat healthy. And I will share with you what I have learned over the years, what’s worked for me, what’s worked for my kids. But, this is a disclaimer, *laughing* there is no one perfect way. You know the best, as a parent for what is the best way for your kids. I know some people might judge me and say, ‘how could you do that’ or ‘how dare you’ or ‘oh my gosh, you let them eat this, you let them eat that.’ *laughing* We can get so dogmatic about it, when it comes to nutrition and kids. It’s a sensitive subject and I understand that. So, just understand that these are tips that have helped me, maybe they’ll help you as well. I just want to share with you what has been effective for me and my girls. But just realize that, it’s still a struggle, it’s not perfect and I am still learning and it’s growing as they get older. Being in separate households from their mom, you know, I can’t control what they eat over there. I know I can’t control everything that goes into my girls mouths.
Alright, now it’s time to get into parenting. Really quick, just getting into this, there was a funny video going around. It was a YouTube video, kind of shared on Facebook everywhere. Everyone was watching it and sharing it because it was kind of like a set up of a prescription drug. It was asking if you suffer from parenting, it’s definitely not safe for work, so go check it out. It’s hilarious though, the way they set it up. Because, they made it sound like a prescription drug commercial, it’s hilarious. Since we are talking about parenting, that video just popped up, but go check it out if you want a good laugh and you are a parent.
So, let’s talk about some things that have helped me. Just to set the stage for everybody, for everyone that doesn’t know, I have two daughters, 6 and 8, Kale’a and Kiana. I have them for one week on and one week off. Me and their mom have been divorced for a little over 3 years now. We co-parent really well, we are still good friends, still business partners, technically. Luckily, we have a very good relationship and so I think that’s healthy for both of our daughters. And if you want to get into the whole divorce and things like that, go listen to episode 100 and 101, if you want to learn more about it. There’s a lot of valuable information in there, as I embraced vulnerability as a strength in that episode. But anyways, getting back to setting the stage, so I have them every other week. I realize, Lynn, she is more of a foodie and I get that. She likes her donuts and wine and chocolate and I can’t control that. I am ok with her giving the girls treats, I give my girls treats and we will get into that as well. I know I am going to get judged either way here. But yes, I do give my girls treats, I’m not a fanatic about it and I am not an extremist. I get the importance of having balance, but at the same time, not going overboard. And yes, I do allow my girls to participate in holidays, like Halloween and Christmas, and they get candy and treats. Now, when they are with me though, I try to control what they do get and what they don’t get. I am very adamant on them eating certain foods, that there is no negotiation …. there is no negotiating on. Sometimes it’s tough love and I think sometimes that’s how it has to be as a parent, rather then just being a friend and giving them whatever they want, whenever they want. It’s important to kind of stand your ground and let them know that this is the way it is and they can’t change it. The kids have to sometimes listen to their parents. *laughing* I know, it sounds hard because you love them so much and you just want to make them happy.
Let’s get into how we can get our kids to eat healthy. These are the tips that helped me. The number one thing for me, is include them in the process. Include them in the process of cooking, grocery shopping and preparing the food. Because if they are just delivered a meal every single day and they have no idea where it came from or how it was prepared, it’s so much easier for them to be disconnected from it. They’ll say, ‘I don’t want this, this looks gross, I want chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.’ Then we fight over it and then they eventually …. you just become …. your so stressed about other things in life, you give in. So, include them in the process.
Take them grocery shopping with you. This is number two thing, take them grocery shopping with you. Include them in the process, let them pick out their vegetables and fruits that they enjoy. Because let’s be honest, most kids probably struggle with eating vegetables. This is the most common thing, yes, there are some kids that don’t like meat or cheese or those things, but the majority of kids do. *chuckles* Include them in the process and take them grocery shopping and let them pick out the vegetables that they want, right? Teach them about certain vegetables and different things about them or maybe where they came from. Or how they grow and something unique about them, I think that adds to …. that adds benefits to them, actually being curious about the food at the grocery store. All of this also depends on the ages of your kids. If your kids are teenagers *laughing* and your taking them to grocery store trying to teach them about avocado or celery or whatever, they may not be interested. But my girls are 6 and 8, so when I am talking and educating them, they’ll listen. To each their own, so they take them grocery shopping.
But then also from there, the number four thing is have them help prepare the food. Allow them to maybe help you cut the vegetables, or boil them or cook them however you want, so they are included in the process of actually preparing it. I think if you had a garden, I think that’s the best way of doing this. Allow them to plant seeds and watch it grow. Then from there, they are actually part of growing the food, rather than going to the grocery store and picking it up. Then the kids thinking, ‘oh food comes from the grocery store,’ rather than from farms. So yes, if you have access to a garden, I think that would be the best way to do it. Because then kids see how plants or fruits and vegetables are actually made, right? I think that’s super valuable. I don’t have access to a garden right now, so this is the best I can do. So, have them help prepare the food, help them cut obviously, safely *chuckles*. Bake the food, like my girls, they both know how to cook eggs. They know how to turn the oven on, very safely. I watch them still, just in case. They know how to get the butter and the eggs out and how much butter to put in. They know how to scramble eggs or flip them. They both know how to cook potatoes, or boil potatoes very carefully, very safe obviously. Sweet potatoes as well, turn the oven on and put them in the oven. I don’t let them cut foods just yet with a sharp knife, but I’ll let them help me cut the food. So they will kind of hold my hand as I am cutting the food, so that they are in the kitchen with me preparing. Sometimes I will get them their little aprons. *laughing* I bought them little aprons and they love it while they are cooking food, they are like chefs, right? Have them help you prepare the food.
Number five is keep it entertaining. What I mean by that is, the more colorful the plate, the more appealing it is to their eyes. So, get more colors on the plate with fruits and vegetables. Make it colorful, I think kids like that. Also, what I have done in the past is, I will cut the fruits and vegetables into certain shapes or letters, spelling certain things. The kids think that’s funny and they love it. Sometimes I will cut their name into a cucumber or an apple. I will cut them into letters, just get creative with it, right? I know that a lot of us don’t have time for that all the time, but doing it every once in a while I think is special. The kids still might not like the food, but at least they see the effort you put into it. I know for me, with my girls it’s made a difference. They are more likely to eat the food, if I put forth the effort. So, maybe spend an extra 5 minutes preparing the food, doing something like that, keeping it entertaining.
Number six, this is called Roxanne. *laughing* This has worked for me with my girls, specifically when it comes to green beans. But other times, if I have a lot of vegetables, the rule of thumb for us is, they have to finish their vegetables if they want a treat or a dessert. Vegetables are not very filling unless your adding butter or coconut oil to it. But by themselves, vegetables are very low calorie, but very nutrient dense. So, I will have them finish their vegetables. One of the things that helps me is, I made this into a game. I can’t remember where I heard it. I will play the song, Roxanne, on my phone and every time they say the word Roxanne, the girls have to take a bite of their vegetable. *laughing* And this works the best with green beans for them. Because for whatever reason they just …. they like it and maybe we just always did that with green beans specifically. But we will play the song Roxanne and the girls think its funny, especially when he sings Roxanne like a bunch of times over and over again. We have to push pause, because their mouths are too full sometimes. But they love it, they laugh, it’s a good time and it gets them to eat their food. So try that out and let me know what you guys think. Obviously we have had people say it’s dangerous, because they are putting too much food in their mouth, which is why we pause it. I think for the most part, it’s effective *chuckles* especially if your kids are at a young age. If your kids are teenagers, it’s a whole different ball park, a whole different ball game. It’s not as easy, I get it and I’m almost there. Well not almost, my oldest is only 8, but it’s coming eventually. *laughing* Maybe I will do another one on that in the future.
The next one, number 7, is to teach them why we eat certain foods and why it is important to eat vegetables. For me, obviously this is easy, because I work in health and fitness and I understand that. But making it simple for a first, second or third grader to understand why we have to eat vegetables and why vegetables and fruits are important to eat, well …. rather than just saying, hey don’t argue with me, just eat your food, I really try to teach them about health. Like, how it works in the body with certain plants and certain vital nutrients and vitamins and minerals and things like that. I think it’s important to teach them why, rather than just saying, hey just because I said so. So, I spent a lot of time educating my daughters on why it’s important to eat these foods. Some of the things I tell them is, it helps our body to be strong and healthy. Also, it helps keep us from getting sick. So, very basic, very simple things. So that when they go to school, they tell their teachers and their friends sometimes about why it’s important to eat these foods. So the teaching them the why behind it, rather than just saying just do it, I think that is really important. And that is number 7.
Number 8 is something called Soda Pop Sunday. This is something that can get controversial because some people might not like this idea. I think this might work better for teenagers. I remember, a friend of mine is a doctor and has kids and he said that he did something called Soda Pop Sunday. This is where he promised his kids if they eat the food that he makes them, Monday through Saturday, then on Sunday they can go to the grocery store and buy whatever they want. They can get any kind of junk food or soda or whatever they want, as long as the other six days they are eating the foods that their dad prepared for them. I remember him telling me the story about the first day that they did this. They were so excited, they went and got like ice cream and cookies and chocolate and candy and soda. You know, all the junk food a kid would want, right? They were so sick after eating all that food, that they realized they didn’t have to overdo it on Sundays. They didn’t have to go all out anymore. They got used to it and they realized they didn’t have to eat so much junk food. He said after that, they found a good balance with that day. It was more of a day off eating strict food. I think obviously this can be controversial, because its like, what are we teaching our kids? Do we want them to have good eating habits and then what if we tell them it’s ok to have these kind of days? And what if one day leads to two, two days leads to three and etc….? I get it, there is no one size fits all approach that works for everybody, I will say that. What works for your kids, may not work for other people’s kids. I think it’s important not to judge each other here and say, my kids will never touch processed food or refined sugar in their life. I think that’s awesome, that’s noble, it’s hard, especially if your too strict. I know for me, I’ve seen that if I am too strict with my girls, it pushes them to the other side where they are like, ‘oh my dad never lets me have this, I want this now,’ right? McDonalds, or you know, ice cream or whatever it is that I know is unhealthy for my girls. I know if I am too controlling and overly strict and almost turn it into like a religion, like oh please don’t sin, please don’t do that, it’ll make me happy. I will pay you or do whatever it takes. At some point, they are going to be tempted by that and I think it’s important for them to experiment with and see it for what it is and get to know it. And to talk about it also, like hey, it’s ok to have a treat every once in awhile. It’s ok to eat these foods, but just realize that if we eat too much of it and too often, it can make you sick and make you get unhealthy and all kinds of things can happen. Not to use scare tactics and say like, oh if you eat that, it’s bad and your going to get this or that. I don’t think it’s important to scare them, but just educate them on hey, here’s what’s happening, be more aware of what you put in your body. I try and control what they eat when I am here. But at the end of the day, I know I can’t control what they eat when they are at a friends house, or on a playdate or with grandma or they’re with their mom, or whatever. I can’t control it, so I don’t freak out about it. Now that my girls are older, I know that they are learning healthy habits from me. My hope is that when they leave the house at 18 and go off to college, they will continue on with those healthy habits. All I can do, is do the best I can.
There is a book that I also wanted to share, I’m not sure if this is a tip, but I know that it has helped my daughters understand the importance of eating what we feed them. Because I am not the parent that if they complain about what I made them, I’m not going to go make them something that they want, that is a comfort food of theirs that’s unhealthy. Just because they are fighting and bickering and putting up a fight as far as the food that I made them for example. So there is a really good book called, Ronnie the Rhino and its a series of books. I can’t remember what this one is called, but it’s about eating broccoli. Basically in the book, what they do is Ronnie is excited because his grandparents come over for dinner and they feed everyone broccoli and other food and he pretends to eat broccoli by cutting it up in small pieces and spreading it out. Then his grandma calls him out and says, ‘hey you didn’t eat your broccoli.’ And he goes, yeah I did. And they say, ‘Oh Ronnie, this is what your dad did when he was little. If you eat your broccoli, you can have a piece of pie.’ And they say, ‘it’s your choice.’ And Ronnie says, no, I hate broccoli, I’m never touching broccoli. And they are like, ‘alright, it’s your choice, no dessert.’ And so he goes to bed with no dessert and then the next morning for breakfast, he comes down and everyone is eating pancakes and he wants breakfast. But then they are like, ‘here is your broccoli from last night that you didn’t eat.’ And they give him a choice, you either finish this broccoli and have breakfast with us, or you know, basically it will be here for your next meal. He’s stubborn and says, ok I am not eating ever again and it’s your fault Grandma. *chuckles* So he goes off and does his thing and is like, I’ll show them. Lunch time comes around and everyone is eating and he is starting to get really hungry by that time. He’s smelling the foods from the kitchen and he knows he can’t eat. So, he’s like alright, I’m just going to distract myself again and then dinner time comes around and the same thing. He can’t take it anymore, he’s so hungry and he tried everything he could to get his mind off of his hungry stomach and he says alright, fine. He goes down there and eats the broccoli and he’s like, oh, this is actually really good. And he liked the broccoli and then he ate dinner and had two servings of the pie. The lesson is important, in my opinion. And it’s kind of …. it’s hard to show tough love to our kids, I get it. It is really hard to be the mean parent sometimes and our kids will make us feel guilty and they will say mean things like, I hate you or I’m never eating again. But at the end of the day, I think it’s important for us to say, hey, this is what we are eating, this is what we have and if you don’t like it, it’ll be here for breakfast for you. You don’t have to eat it, it’s your choice. I know this is also controversial and it’s going to be kind of hard for some people to learn, but I think no kid has ever died of starvation from purposely not eating the food their parents gave them. Especially with real food. If your trying to get your kids to eat fruits and vegetables and healthy food, then sometimes maybe like say, this is whats for dinner and we’re all going to eat it and if you don’t want it, then that’s ok, but it’s going to be here for breakfast for you. I’ve heard other parents tell me similar stories where they have done the same thing and their kids learned a lesson of like, ok, it’s better to eat it warm and fresh than it is to eat it the next morning cold. *chuckles* Or warmed up in the microwave. It’s important for kids to learn that. I’ve done that a couple of times with my girls and it’s hard because I’m like, they probably should eat something. But trust me, the next day they come around, and they’re like, ok fine, they hate it for a second but, you know, kids are resilient.
So anyway, that’s an interesting book that maybe you guys can look into, called Ronnie the Rhino. Implementing some tough love and parenting, like I said, I know it’s really, really hard.
Anyways, I wanted to keep this Podcast short and I hope you guys enjoy these types of short personal Podcasts of things that have helped me. Maybe if you have enjoyed these tips, pass this Podcast on to other parents that are looking for ideas. I wish there was a one time fits all approach, but sometimes there’s not.
One other thing I will say though that has been helpful obviously with me, especially nowadays, there are so many companies that make eating seem more convenient, and I think finding healthier substitutes to things that you know your kids like, is worth a shot. It’s not always going to work, where your kids are like, wait a second this tastes healthy. I get that all the time with my girls, they are like is this a healthy cookie or an unhealthy cookie? But I get Keto cookies sent to me and I taste test a lot of products and so I try to pass them on to my girls. Sometimes they are like, oh yeah, they can’t even tell the difference and other times they are like, yeah this tastes healthy. So, it’s worth a shot to find healthier substitutes, so instead of maybe using white sugar, look at using a brand like Lakanto. They make a white sugar substitute made of monk fruit and erythritol, which doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels, but it taste just like sugar. They also have a brown sugar substitute, a powdered sugar substitute and liquid monk fruit drops you can add to your smoothies, your teas, your coffees as well. There is also Stevia you can use, there’s other sugar alcohols that can be substituted for sugar, if your trying to cut back on sugar. And finding healthier options for things like cookies and cakes and pies, there are all kinds of recipes. Just go to Pinterest, if you want like gluten free cupcakes or Keto brownies, or whatever it is. There are so many recipes now days and it’s so much more convenient than it used to be. I think looking into healthier substitutes for the foods that you know your kids like, that you don’t want them to have all the time, is definitely worth the investment to find out what works best. Like for me, I’ve made Paleo cupcakes or muffins before and the girls loved them as if they were unhealthy. *laughing* There are certain Keto cookies my girls love as well. Like I said, it’s worth a shot.
I hope you guys enjoyed this Podcast. I’d love to hear your tips that you guys use to get your kids to eat healthy, because I know that these things are my experiences. But, I would love to learn from you and your experiences. If you want to reach out to me on social media, I’d appreciate that. I’ll be back next week with another great episode on the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast, so thank you for committing today.
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