Creating Healthy Family Food Habits with Picabo Street
By Kate Bowler
We all know that making sure our kids eat healthy is important, but it can also be a challenge. Picabo Street, Olympic Gold Medalist and busy mom, talked with us about the importance of helping her kids develop healthy eating habits, how she teaches her family why eating healthy is important, and her tips and tricks for even the pickiest eaters:
Lead by example. "I care a lot about whether or not my children have good eating habits. It's very important to me. So, one of the first things I do is have good eating habits myself, to set the right example." Picabo says she tries to ‘walk the walk' and eat a balanced diet to show her kids how it's done. Another trick? Using their favorite athletes as a good example. "I'll ask my kids what they think one of the best athletes we've recently seen on TV eats, and then we actually go look up online what they say their diet is, and they go, ‘Ohh!'" Showing the kids that the athletes are eating good foods to make them stronger helps them understand how important healthy food is.
Cook dinner together. "My kids have surfaced the desire to come in and help me in the kitchen, and I think it's fantastic because I use that as an opportunity to help them, teach them, and grow together in our relationship with food." Picabo uses cooking together as a family as an opportunity to let her kids learn more about healthy foods and understand what choices she's making when she puts things into their meals. Letting the kids help gets them involved and interested. "I'll be honest and say that it's hard when you're trying to whip out a meal in the kitchen - it slows way down and you have to be more diligent and you have to pay attention to what everybody's doing and make sure no one slips anything into the batter that you weren't expecting in there! But I'm going to take that time as a parent to spend that extra minute to teach this to my kid."
Aim for a balanced week. With a big family, it's hard to please everyone and stay on top of perfect nutrition every day, so Picabo looks at the bigger picture to make sure her kids are getting a balanced diet and the nutrients they need. "As an early mom, I worried a lot about how much nutrition I got into my baby every day. As I've grown in motherhood, I've stretched it out and try to look at their nutrition throughout the week. I look at what they're eating and assess, ‘is my child getting what they need over the course of a week?' and if there's a deficit somewhere, I'll fill it."
Sneak in the good stuff. One way she helps her kids get the nutrition they need is to hide it in other foods; "I'll sneak fruits and vegetables into their food, and smoothies is a great way to get in because you can just hide them in there and it disappears with the taste, spinach is hidden by the taste of pineapple, it's gone. Or puree some cauliflower or broccoli, or zucchini and put it in the spaghetti sauce. If you can't get them to consume it on their own, sneak it in there, and then it's really funny when you tell them later that and then watch their mouth dropping. They say, ‘I don't like cauliflower!' And I tell them, ‘Well, you just ate a whole head of it!'"
Treat food as fuel. One of the most important principles that Picabo has passed along to her kids from her experience as an Olympic athlete, is that what you put into your body impacts how it runs. "As an athlete, we adopt a philosophy that food is fuel, and that concept is a little aggressive for kids. So, I try and break it down a little more for them and I tell them a funny story that I heard when I was a young athlete, about your body being a nice sports car. I ask them, do you want to be that old, one-ton truck on the farm with all that clay in the wheels? Or are you that fast sports car? I like to think of myself as a fast sports car, and because of that, I'm going to put good quality gas in me. And I tell the kids, "You're a beautiful, awesome sports car. You are my baby and I'm going to take good care of you."
Tell us, what tips and tricks do you have for giving your family healthy eating habits?
For more of Picabo Street's tips to keep your family healthy, active and inspired, visit Be Well For Life.
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