When my kids were 3 and 4 they were asking me if they could have "happy meals" for dinner. i told them no--that we were staying home (they dont eat mcdonalds unless they are at their mothers house.. another time maybe
my daughter said "but daddy, they are in the kitchen!"
i told her to go get the happy meals then and she could have them. she came back with a carton of old fashioned quaker oats.
same thing as far as she was concerned--simply because they had a fun name.
fine by me! ha, that was easy. to this day both of my kids love plain old fashioned oats. no sugar--nothin. just the plain oats. they make their own in coffee cups and heat them in the microwave.
kids will really eat what you teach them to eat. just make it fun and a learning experience and you will be lightyears ahead of most people who are trying to force their kids to eat boring healthy food when all the other kids at school live off of twinkies and fruit snacks.
my kids still enjoy junk food but they also know the difference. they are always asking me "is this protein or carbohydrate.. is cheese protein AND fat then.." they also like to tell eachother what is healthy and what is not. makes for GREAT brother-sister arguments during road trips. ha!
i had my kids make up 2 "menus" of healthy meals and snacks they like to eat. they actually asked me to label what kind of macronutrient each were.
for my daughter we made a menu in the shape of a butterfly and my sons simply had a bunch of lightning bolts and swords all over it. boys. both were decortated with glitter/glue/stars/stickers etc.
they take these menus with them to the grandparents etc. otherwise they stay on the fridge where the kids can read and add to them at anytime.
one thing i have noticed (prior to the menus) was that its very easy for kids to get low protein. i dont overdo things but left to their own they would probably live off fat and carbs with the occasional accidental bite of meat with dinner. so, just make sure the kids arent getting overexposed to processed carbs.
some great healthy snacks from my kids menus:
=canned tuna/chicken with favorite dressing
=oatmeal with or without fruit
=celery with dip
=veggies with dip
=chunks of yellow cheese cut in fun shapes
=cottage cheese (my son likes it plain my daugther loves putting salt and tons of black pepper on it)
my kids think taking vitamins is fun. they like to see who can swallow beta-carotene and fish oil caps THE BEST. i always congradulated them when they got down, hard to swallow caps. i dont make them take their vitamins they like to.
there is a fish oil on the market that is flavored like fruit! no fishy taste at all! i dont get it anymore because they think the vitamins are fun.
i guess my "advice" could be summed up:
dont let kids eat crap all the time. make eating fun. teach them something. get them excited about eating good/healthy food.
i cant think of any more fun snacks because they took their menus to their moms!
my kids are now 5 and 7. im glad ive done things how i have. to bad my parents thought ramen noodles were a complete and balanced diet. guess thats what happens when you are poor.
welp, now im all grown up and still love ramen noodles to this day;)