Balancing Food Within A Family

I’m really excited about my 2 classes that start September 1st: Digestion & Detox, and Lifecycles & Healthy Aging. For the Lifecycles class, we go through each stage of life starting with pregnancy and ending in old age, and learn about how nutrition can benefit health every step of the way.

One of the books we will be reading is called Feeding Your Child for Lifelong Health, by S. Roberts, Ph.D. & M. Heyman, M.D. I’ve been browsing through each of my books (I have about 10 books per class, literally) as they arrive from Amazon.com shipping, and this one seemed particularly interesting.

I think something many families struggle with is how to balance “adult” meals and nutrition with the wants and needs of the kids. Most of you know where I stand on this – kids should eat what the adults eat to whatever extent possible, especially as they get old enough to chew and digest most things. (Note: I realize I have no right to even have a stance on this because I don’t have kids, but I am putting it out there anyway).

This book provides some tips for balancing food within the whole family. The authors claim that if you follow their guidelines on most days, you can rest assured that your family is getting the proper nutrients from their diet. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Vary the balance of different foods for different family members. For example, kids and adults need about the same levels of calcium, but kids only need about half the fruits and veggies and less than half of the grains that adults do.

  • Shop for everyone’s fat and fiber needs. Since kids need more fat, whole milk or 2% is appropriate for them. If you are watching your fat intake, you may prefer skim milk. Some adults need more fiber in their diet to assist with proper health, so they may eat cereals and breads that are extremely high in fiber. Kids, however, generally have lower fiber needs than adults.

  • If recipes you like have ingredients that are not suitable for your child, simply leave them out and put them on the table as condiments. The two biggies here are added salt and alcohol, which are found in many recipes. Strong spices would also fall into this category.

  • Focus on cooking methods that enhance nutrition for everyone. Maximize the family’s vitamin intake by eating raw salads and/or steaming veggies to retain water-soluble vitamins. Try to use fresh veggies, rather than canned or frozen, whenever possible.

  • Unless you have a family medical history that dictates a special diet, you don’t need to avoid red meat entirely. Red meat is high in iron and zinc, which are crucial for growth and development of the child. Eggs are also a great source of iron and zinc.

  • Give your child a multivitamin/mineral supplement. This is something your doctor can advise you on.

I thought these were some great tips, and a good reminder of how important it is to focus on nutrition and healthy meals containing REAL food (vs “kid” foods) from an early age. If you start your kid off eating convenience foods, and show them that it’s okay for them to eat a separate meal from mom and dad, they may never want to graduate to the adult table.


  1. Elizabeth WoodcockAugust 19, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    Your post reminded me of a blog that I like about healthy eating with kids. I love her philosophy. Check it out...
    Hope you guys are doing well! Will we see you at James's wedding?

  2. Thanks Elizabeth, I'll have to check it out! I love new blogs.

    We are not going to James & Amy's wedding, unfortunately. We already had a trip to MN planned to see my family (we haven't been there since November). Anyway, let's talk soon!


  3. I just purchased the cookbook that the author of www.dinneralovestory.com recently published: "Time for Dinner." It has a lot of great ideas for family meals, and how to stock a pantry/fridge for family. Also, I think the other authors were part of the team that published Cookie Magazine - one of my favorite, now defunct, publications. So, it not only has great food ideas, but is beautiful to look at as well.