So, What Do Your Kids Eat?

Here is a picture of the whole “fam damily” at a fun run last year:


The love of my life (the hubby) is on the left, next to him is my baby (entering her sophomore year in college), and then my oldest (a senior in college), then me (yep…the short one…at 5’8″), and the other bookend is my son (a college junior). As you can see, they grew well despite the fact that we didn’t eat as healthy 10 years ago as we do now.

I would say we were rather typical in our eating habits, but leaned toward the healthy side. Red meat was served rarely, as I just didn’t like it. Pop (my  regional dialect is showing…soda, if you will) was rarely in the house, but if it were, the kids (and hubby) drank it like there was no tomorrow. Snack food consisted of pretzels, veggie straws, cheese sticks and yogurt. Chips were a special treat. We love(d) ice cream, so trips to Dairy Queen were frequent, although if the weather was nice we would bike. My husband and I are not ashamed to admit that we used bribery to force our kids into biking with us. (Hey kids! Want ice cream? Get on your bikes!)

By my own admittance, meals were very uninspired. And uninspired is a polite way of saying BLAH. A chunk of meat (usually chicken breast…I hated touching raw meat, so frozen chicken breasts were a life saver), a veggie, and potato or rice or noodles. We drank a lot of skim milk. An embarrassing confession? I use to make “Daddy’s Favorite Casserole” from time to time. “Daddy’s Favorite Casserole” consisted of potato chips, canned tuna, and cream of mushroom soup. Yep. I’ll wait until you get back from throwing up.

With 3 kids born within 28 months, and each one active in multiple sports, out to eat meals happened frequently, especially on weekends. We ate typical tournament food on tournament weekends. (And what do I miss most about soccer tournaments? The kettle corn!) If we needed to eat on the run, it was Jimmy John’s or Subway. If we could be a bit more leisurely, we migrated toward Panera.

So now, once people discover that I eat a whole food, plant based diet, they often inquire about what my kids eat. (And my husband too for that matter…we will have that conversation later). And that my friends, is a very good question.

When I decided to become vegan, I just did it. I didn’t announce it to anyone. I just stopped eating meat, dairy and eggs. And I stopped buying meat, dairy, and eggs. So over the course of time those items disappeared from the household. Skim milk was replaced with almond milk, rice milk and soy milk. Chia and flax seeds replaced eggs. Daiya cheese, tofu and tempeh appeared in the meat drawer. Raw nuts and seeds replaced crackers and pretzels.

Now what you need to keep in mind is that I get really excited when I read books on nutrition, and I am constantly quoting info from the books I read. (So my family was becoming educated whether they wanted to be educated or not.) At first, there was a bit of rebellion. I would find McDonald’s and Taco Bell wrappers in the garbage. And I kept my mouth shut.

Then, over the course of a few months, something incredibly awesome happened. My kids  started questioning me about nutrition. We would have family nutrition discussions. One by one they gave up dairy. And 2 of the 3 discovered they didn’t get excruciating stomachaches after eating rich, creamy, cheesy dishes, or ice cream. Requests were made to go eat at restaurants that offered locally grown foods, with vegan options.

It was no longer a big deal that meals didn’t include meat. I became a lot more creative in the kitchen and the food I made was actually tasty. (Although admittedly, there were a few flops along the way.)  Daughter #2  (D2) actually told me that she loved coming home to eat the meals I made, where that was definitely not the case previously. When they are at school, I get picture of the food they are eating. All lean heavily toward whole food, plant based. I regularly receive texts requesting certain recipes that I have made for them when they were home.

We have become restaurant snobs. Chain restaurants are, for the most part, a thing of the past. (Except for Chipotle…LOVE Chipotle!) And D1 has a slight obsession with Taco Bell…usually coincides with bar closing times. I forgive her for this as she is also the child who craves roasted veggies and eats them by the truckload. My son goes to school in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and he is forever discovering new restaurants and is eager for us to visit so we can enjoy them as well. (Of course, we are paying, so that might be part of the appeal as well). And D2, has a sweet tooth much like her mama. She is now a vegan baker, and is obsessed with the Chocolate Covered Katie blog. All 3 kids have NutriBullets so they make their own smoothies and Larabars regularly.

Are they 100% vegan? No. But I certainly wish I ate as well as they do when I was in college. D1 is mostly vegan, but when she goes out to eat, she will order seafood from time to time. S1 is just a food snob. Some of his meals are meatless, but he really enjoys quality food. He has been known to order the most expensive item on the menu on many occasions. And D2 still eats meat when she goes out, and still loves her sweets, but is very aware of the quality of food she eats and of the ingredients in the foods she eats. I frequently catch her comparing ingredients in products and then making an informed choice. This past summer she commented to me, “Mom, we don’t have anything to eat in the house, but we always have everything we need to make any recipe I find.” It clicked for her.

So, do my kids eat like me? Not completely, but I am proud of the fact that they take pride in the food they choose to put in their bodies. I just hope they stop growing.



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