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Posts Tagged ‘child’s diet’

Yes…You read that right.  My 12 month old daughter’s favorite food is SPINACH.  She also loves mustard and turnip greens, kale and swiss chard.  Sometimes she shovels greens into her mouth so fast she nearly chokes (true story – she really did put so many little pieces of spinach in her mouth so fast they wadded up and she started gagging).  I NEVER would have thought she would like spinach, much less that it would be in her top ten list.  But low and behold, she sucks it down!  (Disclaimer – you should never give spinach to a baby under 3 months of age due to a risk of nitrate poisoning – but in my opinion you shouldn’t be giving real food to a 3 month old baby anyway!)

The reaction I get when people learn of this love is mixed.  Many are impressed, some are perplexed, and a surprisingly high number of people make the comment “better her than me.”  Therein lies the problem.  So many adults are turned off by this power veggie that they never even give their child a chance to like it.  I certainly didn’t used to like it and only started eating because I read about how great it is for you.

How good for you is it?  Glad you asked… Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium, and vitamin B6, protein, phosphorus, vitamin E, zinc, dietary fiber, copper, selenium, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids.  It is also loaded with flavonoids which act as antioxidants, protecting the body from free radicals. Researchers have discovered at least 13 different flavonoid compounds that act as anti-cancer substances.  For example, the United States Department of Agriculture states that a 180 g serving of boiled spinach contains 6.43 mg of iron, whereas one 170 g ground hamburger patty contains at most 4.42 mg.[i] All of that healthy goodness in a little green leaf.

So I’ve demonstrated why YOU should be eating it.  Now on to the burning question in your mind, “how on earth did you get your child to eat (and love) spinach?”  I get that a lot.  It’s simple – she eats what we eat.  Since she began eating solids, I pureed what I cooked for my husband and me.  Once she was old enough to eat more textures I cut up well cooked (and soft) pieces of whatever we were eating and put it on her tray.  Since we always eat meals together she could easily see she was eating the same thing we were and I honestly think that helped tremendously.  Children want to be included in the family and learn though imitating.  Yet so many people overlook that fact when it comes to what their kids eat.

Another reason she started eating (and liking) the foods we ate – she was also never given the option to eat anything else.  Baby food is not outrageously expensive or anything, but every dollar saved counts in my family.  Sure, it’s easier to open a jar, but pureeing what I’ve already cooked takes less than 3 minutes (I have an immersion blender with a mini food processor attachment).  I also know what is in it and how it is made.  With so many recalls and stories of unsafe prepackaged foods I figured I’d take that risk out of the equation completely.

My biggest motivating factor for only feeding her what we eat is simple; I want her to eat what we eat.  Simple as that.  I have NO interest in preparing a separate meal for her (or my future children for that matter) nor do I want her ordering the expensive fat laden garbage off the kids menu at a restaurant.  So what better time to start gearing her taste buds for “adult food” then with her first taste of food ever!

Now, six months after her first taste of food, she eats practically everything (except ginger ice cream….REALLY not a fan).  I let her try things I know she can chew and mash and as long as she can physically eat it I don’t worry about whether she will spit it out.  What you eat is a learned process – just look at what children and adults eat in other cultures.

So please, use caution on what your kids can safely eat, but beyond that, let them try anything and everything.  Start ‘em young, and hopefully you will raise your own little foodie.

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