Here’s the thing. Little Man isn’t so little. He was almost 10 pounds at birth and 24 inches long. Now, he’s 3.5 years old and he’s already 3 feet 7 inches tall and weighs in at a muscular 45 pounds. He’s long, thin and has no bum to speak of. Seriously, no bum. Every time I see him pulling up his waistband after someone’s made some variation of a ‘plumber’s bum’ comment, I’m reminded of an old George Carlin joke about a frog trying to stand up and pull up pants – that’s my boy. The bumless giant.
He looks like a 6 year old, he eats enthusiastically, and he burns off his energy with rigorous activity. The above isn’t a picture of him, but it may as well be – this kid rarely has his feet on the ground.
His daycare teachers sometimes talk about how energetic he is after he eats – and it’s true. As soon as you fuel up that engine, he’s go-go-go. It’s not a question of sugars. Apart from his weakness, cookies (which are doled out sparingly) and ice cream (he’s a kid, after all), this kid generally eschews sweets. Sure, he has his standard favourite meals, and I could feed him one of those each evening and be fine, but I’m trying to offer him more variety, more textures, more colours, more flavours.
So, what do I do for kid who needs constant refueling to keep that body growing and moving? After figuring it out through trial and error, I’ve learned that, for Little Man, it’s about ensuring that he gets fats, carbohydrates and protein – and making sure there’s a little of each, as often as possible, in his meals and snacks.
In my job, I have access to amazing resources when it comes to this nutrition stuff and they’ve taught me that for Little Man (and for many little ones), it often all comes down to colour. The more colours there are, the more nutrients there are. The more colours there are, the more textures there are (usually). There’s a lot of merit to the whole “eat a rainbow every day” mantra – and I encourage you to look it up for some amazing ideas.
Here’s how we try to do just that – maybe some ideas will inspire.
An aside: I’m not perfect. Sometimes, there are Timbits. Sometimes, there are nuggets and fries. Sometimes, there may even be a milkshake. One day, we started dinner with the birthday cake from Big Man’s birthday the day before (because Little Man was in bed when it had been served) and by the time dinner was ready, he didn’t want any – not my proudest parenting moment.
The point is, I try. And I get there – a lot of the time. But, I will never judge anyone for making it very easy on themselves once in a while. There are days when the freedom from having to make those choices and do that work is worth its weight in gold. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a working mom, or a stay-at-home mom – sometimes, you need a break and no one should ever, ever make you feel guilty about it.
Ahem – back to the business of making rainbows:
- Breakfast ideas include Greek yogurt (higher in protein), a banana or sliced apple, a slice of toast (or some dry grain cereal) and some cheese.
- Lunch and snacks are at daycare during the week, but I get to see and feedback into the menus that they serve and they do extremely well by him, in terms of meeting his dietary needs. You should be able to see some kind of menu, too, if your kids are in daycare (if your child is in a home daycare, this might be a little more difficult, but you can probably get an idea of what’s served). Not only do I get a sense of the nutrients he’s taking in, but it also helps make sure I’m not serving pasta twice in a row (not that he would mind that).
- On the weekends, lunch is quick and easy, mainly because we’re on the go a lot. Grilled cheese sandwich on multigrain bread, sliced ham wrapped around apple slices, fruits, veggies and yogurt sauce, things like that.
- Dinnertime is fun time – and where I suppose I have the most control and creativity. Little Man loves his “buffet” type meals – lots of little things to eat, rather than one thing. He likes to move from thing to thing. I do my best to accommodate.
Last night, for example, he had a half cup of sliced grape tomatoes, a half cup of sliced baby cucumber, some sliced chicken from the night before, a quarter cup of extra old cheddar cheese sticks – cut up matchstick style, 2 tablespoons of hummus and a multigrain roll with a bit of butter. It was pretty – and gone in minutes.
A few nights ago, I made a delicious (if I do say so myself) sweet chili lime roast pork. For Big Man and me, it was sliced onto a salad with all kinds of veggies, some sour cream and some mango salsa (see my pic below). Little Man is not a fan of the mushy sour cream/salsa mix. So, he got the same pork, cut into cubes and little “mini-kabobs’ poked onto halved bamboo skewers, with cucumber, cheese and grape tomatoes. I served it with half a multigrain roll and some sliced strawberries and mandarin wedges.
The rainbow idea is working for us – and we’re heading into summer – when the colours of the produce that’s available are spectacular. I use these colours to introduce new things. The “buffet” idea also allows me to introduce new things, too.
For example, the other night, I put a little condiment dish of salsa beside Little Man’s kabobs the other day. I thought he’d like to try some for dipping. He hated it. Vociferously.
- Top image courtesy of chrisroll/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
- Second image courtesy of SundayMorning/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
- Third image courtesy of ME! This one’s mine – and it was delicious!