What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids

Hi Friends!

Today I have a fun little post for you. Actually, it’s not so little…it’s like 3,000 words, but I think some of you will enjoy it. After Julie interviewed me the other week about what RDs eat, it got me thinking along those same lines! With baby on the way, I’ve found myself thinking more and more about kids and what they eat.

RDs feed kids.jpg.jpg What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids

So, I rounded up some of my favorite Registered Dietitian moms and asked them a few questions about what their kids eat. This post is in no way saying that only RDs know how to feed their children a healthy diet. I know there are tons of moms out there who do a great job! I just thought it would be a fun way to inspire you guys and share some new ideas and tactics from these wonderful ladies who are not only moms, but RDs, entrepreneurs, and busy professionals!

Ready? OK!

 What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids

Name: Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD
Blog: Teaspoon of Spice
Kids: Mia, 7 years old


1) What does she typically eat for breakfast?
Oatmeal or cereal, fruit and peanut butter toast. Milk or water to drink.


2) What does she typically eat for lunch?
Either PB or turkey/cheese sandwich, fruit (apple, peach, plum, grapes, etc), a veggie (grape tomatoes, baby carrots, frozen peas, etc) and I’ve caved to including a processed snack here and there like Cheez-Its or Goldfish.
If they’re school aged- do you pack or buy their lunch? Why?
This will be an interesting year as it’s the first year she can buy school lunch so I’m not sure yet what our school offers- stay tuned!


3) What happens if she doesn’t like what you’re making for dinner?
Funny, we dealt with this tonight! She didn’t want the pasta with tomato sauce and homemade turkey meatballs after a few bites and realizing there were “spices” in it- meaning she saw a few green flecks of parsley in the meatballs and oregano in the sauce. She asked to be excused and she was allowed to leave the table but we don’t engage in conversation with her until we are done eating. She usually has fruit before bedtime, which she did. She’ll be waking up hungry tomorrow!


4) What are her favorite snacks?
The good stuff: fruit, some raw veggies, granola bars, PB sandwiches.
The no so good: chips, cheez-its, goldfish.


5) Are any foods off limits?
No. When she was younger, I had a no juice policy for a while but she probably has the equivalent of one juice box a day now. While she has gotten more picky (gone are the toddler years where she ate everything!) it’s more that she wants to eat her foods separately (ie plain pasta, tomatoes, carrots all separate vs. mixed together in a sauce.)


6) Any tips for picky eaters?
I’m trying TRYING to stick with the mantra that she’ll come around and I really don’t make a big deal out of it in front of her. She helps me cook, grocery shop, pick up our CSA so she is continually exposed to different foods, spices, etc. and I keep telling myself she’ll come back around.


7) What’s one mistake you think parents make when it comes to feeding their kids?
I’m probably one to talk since she’s gotten so picky, but I never make her clean her plate or hold dessert hostage for vegetables. Telling children “eat two more bites of broccoli and then you can leave the table, have dessert, or to x” makes veggies automatically undesirable. We don’t always have dessert but sometimes if she doesn’t eat much, I still give her ice cream but I leave the carrots, tomatoes- whatever veggies she didn’t eat- on her plate and 9 times out of 10 she comes back and snacks on them later. Admittedly, this is an easier theory to implement when you only have one kid!

IMG 0025 What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids

Name: Sally Kuzemchak, RD
Kids: I have two boys, ages 6 & 10


1) What do they typically eat for breakfast?
Right now my boys are obsessed with eggs. I finally taught my older son to make eggs for himself and his brother, which is a nice timesaver for me! They either eat the eggs plain with some shredded cheddar cooked in or wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. Otherwise, we are pretty old-school around here: Oatmeal, cereal (I usually stock kinds with around 5g or less sugar), whole grain toast, homemade waffles or pancakes I make in big batches and reheat in the toaster oven, fruit smoothies, or plain yogurt with honey or maple syrup.

2) What do they typically eat for lunch? If they’re school aged- packed lunch or buy at school? Why?
During the school year, both of my boys pack because they don’t like the school lunch (and unfortunately I can’t blame them). So I pack each of them a lunch in a bento-box style lunch boxes–which are great for making a random assortment of food look totally appetizing and adorable! Typically the main dish is a sandwich on whole grain bread, Triscuits and cheese and some deli meat rolled up (like a healthier Lunchable!), edamame, or leftovers such as a slice of homemade pizza or some roasted chicken. My older son likes potstickers or chicken soup in a thermos as well. They always have a fruit (fresh, dried, or a fruit cup) and I try to include a vegetable most days (such as carrots, peppers, or snap peas). Plus a reusable bottle of ice water.

3) What happens if they don’t like what you’re making for dinner?
Those are the breaks! icon smile What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids They can fill up on whatever side items they do like (I always make sure there is something they like that’s being offered, even if it’s just brown rice or a vegetable). There are no special short-order requests allowed at my dinner table. That being said, I also make some allowances for preferences. For example, my boys don’t like really spicy foods, so I reserve the spice to put on just our portions.

4) What are their favorite snacks?
Apples dipped in natural peanut butter, Wasa crackers with a slice of cheddar melted on it, pistachios or peanuts, any kind of fresh fruit (popular now are apricots, cantaloupe, and plums), a slice of homemade bread spread with butter or my mom’s homemade jelly, edamame (I taught my younger son to make a small dish of this himself in the microwave). In the hour before dinner, my kids can only have veggies as a snack–so that could be anything from a dish of plain romaine leaves (which my younger son enjoys) or a stalk of celery to some pepper rings or fresh raw green beans. My younger son loves these veggies presented in a fun way, like the green beans in a measuring cup or a peeled carrot kept big (not cut up) so he feels like a rabbit. :) 

5) Are any foods off limits?
There are foods I don’t typically buy and keep at home (like soda, gummy fruit snacks, cheese puffs, or any artificially-colored or artificially-sweetened foods or drinks). But when they are out and about such as at friends’ houses or parties, nothing is off limits.

6) Any tips for picky eaters?
Stay the course! I’m a recovering picky eater myself, and I know firsthand that it can take a long time for some kids to come around and work up the courage to try new things (it took me 40 years to try guacamole–which I now make every week!). Don’t put pressure on kids or ever label them “picky”. Offer the foods you want them to be eating in a nonthreatening way, give them the choice of whether they taste or eat the food. Give them lots of opportunities to do this. Model those behaviors too. Try foods in different ways (i.e.: steamed broccoli, roasted broccoli, broccoli with cheese sauce, raw broccoli with ranch). Keep the dinner table a pleasant environment where your kids feel safe, not nagged or pressured.

7) What’s one mistake you think parents make when it comes to feeding their kids?
I hate to tell parents they’re making mistakes because we’re ALL works of progress. But one thing I would discourage parents from doing is to throw in the towel and buy into the notion of “kid foods”. Some parents feed their kids a separate dinner (like hot dogs or chicken nuggets) and then eat a “regular” meal themselves. Kids should be eating the same food as the grown-ups–maybe it’s deconstructed (like the veggies are on the side instead of on top of the pasta) but the same basic elements are the same. We certainly eat hot dogs and mac and cheese around here sometimes, but the point is that you shouldn’t be relying mainly on this kind of “kid food” when feeding your child. There is a whole food industry centered around convincing you that those foods are the only ones your child will eat–don’t believe them!


Norah sushi What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids

Name: Danielle Omar, MS, RD
Blog: Food Confidence
Children: Norah, age 6

1) What does she typically eat for breakfast?
Norah ate oatmeal every morning for a couple of years. I mixed plain oatmeal with fruited yogurt and a dash of cinnamon. She doesn’t like it much anymore (probably because she had it so much). Now she eats either scrambled eggs or a green smoothie.

2) What does she typically eat for lunch? Do you pack her lunch or does she buy at school? 
Norah went to a private kindergarten where they had a hot lunch every day. It was catered, mostly organic and very good. Now she’s in public school and brings her lunch. It typically consists of a Greek yogurt tube, veggies like cherry tomatoes or cucumbers, some protein like a cheese stick or smoked salmon, and usually two different kinds of fruit. She’s not a sandwich person but she will sometimes do a mini bagel with cream cheese or a croissant as well. She eats every single bit of lunch. She’s very active and gets very hungry in the morning.

3) What happens if she doesn’t like what you’re making for dinner? 
Since Norah is an only child it’s not that big of a deal for me to cater to her. However, she eats most everything we eat. She is an adventurous eater and this really has not been a problem for us. She always tries anything that we are eating, even if it’s just one bite, and will even get insulted if we don’t offer her some! I would say mostly she eats a variation of what we are eating with some of her foods added in. But if we’re eating something that she just absolutely won’t eat, I will make her something else. I certainly don’t like to cater my dinner around what she will eat!

4) What are her favorite snacks?
Norah adores fruit. She also loves her yogurt tubes! She’ll eat vegetables with salad dressing or with hummus. She does like a salty snack sometimes so I let her have my version of a healthy type chip or seaweed snax!


5) Are any foods off limits? 
Sugary cereals and soda are definitely off limits.


6) Any tips for picky eaters?
My best tip is to prepare foods that your child doesn’t like in different ways so that they can taste them cooked, raw, sauteed, roasted, baked, etc. Explain to them that if they don’t like cooked carrots, they may love them raw. I think teaching them about food is more effective than forcing them to eat a food just because it’s food for them. I created a natural curiosity about food in Norah and I feel like that has served her and I well.


7) What’s one mistake you think parents make when it comes to feeding their kids?
I think you should ask them once, maybe twice, to try something and if they don’t want to try it then stop asking. Still expose them to it by serving it at dinner, but stop trying to make them eat it. If I offer a bite of something new to Norah and she says no thank you, then I create a little bit of mystery around it. Her curiosity will get the best of her if her dad and I are always saying how delicious something is. Sometimes I tell her she’ can’t have a bite of something…that will often get her begging for a bite! She’s also a bit of a foodie so this helps. Another big thing is that if you and your spouse are not eating the foods that you want the kids to eat, there’s no way they’re going to eat it. Modeling the behavior you want is super important. Norah only eats sushi because her dad does!


EAAbout51 What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids

Name: EA Stewart, RD
Blog: The Spicy RD
Kids: Daughter-”SiSi” age 12 {almost 13} and Son-”Big Tex” age 11

1. What do they eat for breakfast?
I try and mix up breakfast so they eat different things everyday, but popular items are: Breakfast tacos w/ Scrambled Eggs, Cheese, Tomatoes, and Avocado; Breakfast Bananas Foster ; Smoothies w/ fruit, a little juice or milk and Greek Yogurt; Pumpkin Pancakes w/ Chocolate Chips or Waffles on the weekends.

2.  What do they typically eat for lunch? Do they pack or buy school lunch?
I usually pack them a lunch 3 times a week, and they have school lunch 2 x week.  For packed lunches: Entree: Turkey, Cheese, Tomato, and Avocado Sandwich on Sourdough or Whole Wheat OR Macaroni and Cheese/Chicken Noodle/Tomato Soup/Tomato Soup w/ Pasta/Plain Pasta w/ butter and Parmesan packed in a Thermos OR Pizza that I make w/ udi’s GF crust, tomato sauce, and mozzarella cheese + a piece of fruit {or my son loves applesauce} or occasionally carrots/cucumbers/sugar snap peas + Water to drink. I will sometimes pack a snack-energy bar or string cheese, but as they’ve gotten older, they are less likely to eat a mid-morning snack. For school lunch, my son’s school uses a healthy vendor {I was on the School Lunch committee to bring healthier lunches to our school} and they use Choice Lunch. I like the options, but it does get pricey which is why I don’t buy it for him everyday. I’m not thrilled with the options at my daughter’s middle school, but 2 days a week she will bring money and usually gets a slice of pizza, a piece of fruit, and water.

3. What happens if they don’t like what you’re making for dinner?
Short answer-they don’t eat icon smile What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids Or they will make themselves a sandwich, i.e. PB and J or turkey and avocado or have a piece of fruit. I don’t worry about it, b/c in general they are good eaters, are growing well and are healthy. Long answer-That being said, I usually always serve at least one thing they like, and if it’s something I know they don’t like/don’t think they will like, i serve “bar” or “buffet” style so they can make their own version of salads, tacos, etc, with their toppings of choice.

4. What are their favorite snacks?
They both tend to have a big snack {i.e. Macaroni and Cheese or a Sandwich} when they come home from school in the afternoon, especially if they haven’t eaten much for lunch {which happens more often than I like}. I always encourage a piece of fruit or a veggie with every snack-favorites are apples/applesauce/grapes, esp frozen/tangerines/carrots/cucumbers/bananas.  Other snack favorites: Popcorn-we have an air popper; String Cheese or Babybell Cheese; Yogurt; Smoothies; Avocado/Guac and Chips.

5. Are any foods off-limits?
There are no foods off limits 100%, but there are foods I won’t buy for them-i.e. things with artificial dyes/chemicals/preservatives/etc [Don’t get me started on Gatorade :-)}-but if they have them at a friend’s house or at a sporting event, etc that is there choice.  I talk to them about the reasons I don’t buy them certain foods, but I think forbidding things is never a good way to go, because that will make them want them even more IMO. I tend not to buy many sweets, but instead encourage them to bake their own. My daughter especially loves to bake, and is now at the age where she can walk to the grocery store by herself, so if she wants to bake something and we don’t have the ingredients at home, i have her walk to the store to buy them.  It’s only a mile round-trip, but this way she gets a little exercise, and it makes it more of a “mindful” experience as opposed to mindless snacking on sweets at home.

6. Any tips for picky eaters?
Patience, patience, patience! I’m a firm believer that parents’ should never make their children (not even 1 bite) eat something they don’t want to. My kids aren’t huge veggie or salad eater, but they do eat them occasionally, and it took both my kids ~10 years before they wanted to try salad, so always offer a wide variety of foods, but never force your kids to eat them.  The only rule we have it our house is that no one is allowed to say they do not like something unless they have  personally tried it. Another tip is to get kids involved in cooking meals from a young age. I love both the cookbooks by The Meal Makeover Moms, and (when we have the time) I have my kids take turns picking out new recipes to try and help me make them for dinner. If kids make something themself, they are more likely to try something new.

7. What’s one mistake parents make when it comes to feeding their kids?
Not having enough patience, or forcing kids to eat things they don’t like.  Getting back to the patience issue, I tell parents it may take YEARS for their kids to try something new, and that’s OK-just continue to offer a wide variety of foods, and little by little they will try new things. I also think it’s a good idea for parents to remember what they were like eating as a kid. Most likely, they didn’t eat all the same foods they do now, but they probably turned out ok, and eat a much wider variety of foods as an adult icon smile What Registered Dietitians Feed Their Kids {I used to dislike beets, broccoli, fish, and avocados as a kid but love them all now, and I think it’s due to the fact that my parents never forced me to eat anything I didn’t want to.}


Whew! I knew this was a long post but hopefully some of you found it interesting and got some good tips! I got so many great responses that I had to split it up into two posts so look for part 2 of this series coming next week!! If you guys find this helpful, I’m happy to keep the series going and expand beyond RD moms to other moms as well! Let me know!


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