If you take the time to eat well when you are pregnant, you win and your baby wins. Sure, you get a healthy start to postpartum, but you also have a healthy food habit you can pass on to your baby when they start eating solids! Double win.
If you are pregnant, a new mom, or a mom with kids already, eating well sets a good example, right? If your whole family is already eating well, then you have surely experienced the benefits.
But what if you are a picky eater yourself? What if you are struggling with an eating difficulty or with unhealthy habits you learned when you were younger? Hey, it happens. But it’s never too late to make a fresh start.
Research indicates that kids who get the “picky eater” label statistically often have parents who are “picky eaters” too. Now, this is not in all cases of course, but it is an indicator.
Isabella, my friend and therapy colleague, found in her own work with children with feeding difficulties that moms often don’t model healthy eating habits, but expect their kids to eat well. Jacki, when asking one of the moms she works with if she herself would eat a piece of steak she was trying to get her baby to eat, her response was “Heavens No!”
If you’re in fact a healthy eater, you undoubtedly have the advantage here. But if you are picky, or struggling with what to eat, then let’s talk Whole Family Feeding.
Whole Family Feeding.
Whole Family Feeding uses foods that are already in the meal, and uses them to feed baby too. This is a MEGA time saver and hack because you have so little time as a mom. Who can really make special dishes for baby everyday, in addition to a family meal?
The main benefit of Whole Family Feeding is baby food of course, but the example that the family sets while eating instills, on a very basic level, what happy eating looks like. It’s a social thing.
So, what if you are having a hard time gobbling down carrots, corn and chicken? The first and most obvious solution is to try to make small changes that work for you. If it is more serious than that, work with a professional that you trust to make gains in happy healthy eating for yourself.
A second solution, which is not quite as obvious, is to make a family food plan. Talk with your spouse and come up with a meal plan that adds new and nutrient-rich food to your weekly meals. Adding new foods slowly, over time, will change things for your family. Do your best personally, work with your family, and place importance on Whole Family Eating. Every family member can make a difference in setting a good example.
It might take awhile to see the changes, but eventually you will see them.
When it comes to making food for baby, it’s really simple. Just makes sure to plan one or two items from each meal that baby can try. The food would be in their regular form for the family, and then made baby safe, via puree, grinding or chopping.
So let’s break it down.
Whole Family Meal Planning:1-2-3
#1: It’s a Mindset: Think about the old times.
You know what the old times are, right? When people sat down and ate? I’m talking my grandma and great-grandma here. Think about how people during the early 1900’s ate. If you have some family history you can remember on this topic, great! If not, I’ll share my grandma’s daily meal ritual. It rocks, and she wasn’t even a super great cook. But she got the job done. (She was a Rosie the Riveter. No kidding!)
Rosie the Riveter symbolized the American World War II effort that women put forth, working in mills and factories at jobs that were earlier only for men. Tough work!
Every day she would have a small breakfast and lunch. Dinner, however, was another story. There was always a salad on the table, a broth-based soup for a starter and a piece of fresh fruit and occasional sweet for dessert. The meal itself was a meat, a starch and a vegetable. The meat was usually a roast or chicken that lasted a couple of days and veggies were sometimes frozen or canned, but there were always veggies.
Do I do this every day? No. BUT, I do try.
I usually aim for something close to this during the week. Sometimes a salad starts the meal and if we’re on the go, I cut out the dessert till we return home. I usually don’t work with canned veggies, which adds time, but frozen and fresh veggies of some sort usually make it to the table.
#2. Plan and Buy Food Ahead of Time
Plan a few meats, a few veggies, make some broth, and buy salad greens and a dressing you like. Pick your favorite fruits and a dessert or two.
If you want, assign them to each day of the week.
You can do it!
Make ahead. Make the same day. Whatever works in your schedule.
I personally “want” to make ahead but have not mastered this yet. The point is that once you make it, leave time to pull one or two items from the meal to serve baby. A good mashed potato or a smashed banana can really work well. Just make sure you add slowly to baby’s diet, so he accepts a food and tolerates it before adding more foods
What about days that are just too hectic to cook? Going to a restaurant can be easy if you think about planning for the whole family. Pick a place with many home-style selections that everyone can benefit from. Planning for the whole family becomes a habit. It just takes a little practice.
So should you start planning when you’re pregnant? YES!
Here is why eating well and feeding the whole family is a good idea when pregnant:
- Eating habits support health in mom so she can have energy during pregnancy and postpartum.
- Once baby is born, good food choices are in place. The amazing but also busy time when baby arrives is change enough. Have meals made ahead and frozen, or have someone else cook! Pregnancy is the time to plan.
- Babies eat what they see the rest of the family is eating. Mom, you are the example. You go mom!!!
- When you are pregnant, you have more time to learn about foods. Organic, non-GMO, grass-fed, non-RBH milk, food color/dyes, preservatives, etc. should be in your grocery buying language. It’s important to know your food source if you can, and over time, you will know how to save money doing this too.
And it may seem obvious, but no matter where you are in your parenting journey, you can start planning family meals, and making food for your whole family that makes a difference. You CAN have HAPPY EATERS in your family. We’ve seen it done.
To support all of you who want to give this a try, here are two resources I personally can’t live without!
#1: Feeding the Whole Family: Whole Foods Recipes for Babies, Young Children and Their Parents
- I found this lovely cookbook by Cynthia Lair, and it was a major help to me. So many recipes for the whole family, and specific instructions on what to set aside and prepare for baby.
#2: Environmental Working Group: This group helped me be a smarter consumer.
They explain what you are buying, from a perspective of best and safest products for the consumer. Find them at ewg.org
Please let us know here at Swami Mommi if you try this out with your family! We wish you all the best of Happy Eating!