How Can I Help My Toddler To Have Healthy Food Habits?

I’ve said it a hundred times lately that I’m so excited, and out of all the projects I’ve been working on, this is the one that just has me PUMPED! Seriously. So excited!

Like any toddler, mine goes through roller coasters where for weeks we fight through 90 minute dinners just to have him take five bites, and then last week, he ate his weight each day of whatever we gave him. But it was in those weeks where he wasn’t eating that I tried desperately to explain to him why he needed to eat dinner before dessert, or why I wouldn’t let him snack before lunch, or why he couldn’t have a spoonful of brown sugar straight out of the packaging. Sometimes those things all happen. Regularly, even. Don’t judge. But in my house they can only happen if he also eats what we have prepared for him to be healthy. Or just if I’m desperate. The odds are usually in his favor. I’m not alone on that, right?

But how the heck do you explain to an irrational small human why they get it sometimes, but not now? After a lot of thought, I think I’ve got some suggestions, aaaand some awesomely applicable resources/games to help! If you’d like to purchase this 40+ page Expedition of Chinese Food, you can keep reading/scroll to the end, or click on any image to go to the China Shop.

What should I say when my child demands dessert/snacks before meals?

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty proud of the explanation I’ve come up with during quarantine:

Oh, I can’t wait to eat ice cream tonight, if that’s what you want to do! BUT. If we eat too much sugar, it’ll make our bellies hurt. So we need to eat more fruits and vegetables than sugar. Can you eat a lot more fruits and vegetables tonight before we have a little dessert tonight?

I mean, that’s a pretty soundly scientific explanation for a two year old, right? It keeps in line with the food pyramid, and also doesn’t deprive them of a healthy love of sweet food. Win-win, I’d say!

It’s all about Yin and Yang and having that balance, right? So I went a step further and did an activity that illustrates exactly that!

How do I encourage them to CHOOSE a healthy diet?

I’m a full grown woman – old enough to have two babies, at least – and I still am 5000x more likely to get excited and dive in to a pretty plate of totally new food, than one that I have eaten 50 times and know is good, but is just, well, colorless. Afredo, chicken and rice mixes, rice and beans. You can’t go wrong with any of them. But to me, they’re last picks because – apparently – I’m mentally a toddler about food. I want a RAINBOW on my plate. Luckily, that also happens to be a pretty guaranteed way to get a variety of nutrients.

You’ve maybe heard of the rainbow diet – try to eat as many colors of the rainbow as you can at each meal. Really, it’s pretty brilliant. It’s also a ridiculously simplified branch off of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) or Chinese Food Therapy. If you don’t know anything about TCM, the theories are based on food being used to heal and enable the body. We can all get on board with that, right? I believe that’s exactly what food’s purpose is. But TCM takes it way further and break down foods and people by colors, tastes, target organs and even seasons to help keep people healthy. It’s old, and the details are scientifically outdated, I know. Still, I decided to use it as my model to encourage having a variety of foods on my son’s plate each day, because colors, tastes, body parts and seasons are right up a toddler’s alley. You can see how I approach it with the Food is the Best Medicine Lesson. Try it for yourself!

Expedition of Chinese Food

40+ pages of activities directed toward helping your child better understand their body's relationship with food and encourage them to eat healthy, all based on Chinese food practices.

$5.00

Includes:
6 Easy-to-Follow Expeditions of Food and the Body with Discussion Prompts and Activity Instructions/Ideas to lead you through every page
A list of Additional Resources – Books and Videos – with links to purchase and/or access for free
Bonus Activity Ideas
A pretend play Chinese Restaurant setup with all the pieces needed

The Beekeeper

January now officially kicks each new year off with National Human Trafficking Awareness Month! And as such, it seems like appropriate a time as ever to catch up on some book reviews, namely “The Beekeeper”.

Photo by Akira Hojo on Unsplash

This book is a true story, and one filled with true horrors. With that being said, I want to share a quote from a book called “Slave Stealers” by Tim Ballard before getting into this.

“Do you have children, Tim?”

“Yes,” I responded, my eyes matching the intensity I was reading in his.

“Then let me ask you something….” He hesitated. He must have known the question was somewhat cruel. But he went forward with it anyway.

“Could you get in bed and sleep at night, knowing that one of your children’s beds was empty?”I knew the answer was no, but I couldn’t get the word out, as instant tears and emotion blocked my ability to vocalize. I just shook my head.

“Slave Stealers”, pg 56, Tim Ballard

Books like this can be hard to digest, but Tim Ballard argues that if we don’t learn how to make it personal- imagining our own children and recognizing that the victims are real children of other heartbroken parents – and act as if our own families and loved ones were on the line, then this criminal market will never end. So in the parts when your heart and tear ducts start to swell at the same rate, and you think you’d rather just not finish, consider for a minute why you feel that way and what you can do. It might just be a defining moment in the start to someone’s rescue.

“The Beekeeper” is based on true stories from Abdullah Shrem, a beekeeper working to help liberate Yazidi women kidnapped by Daesh (aka ISIS), who through many means and people escape. He tells their stories in hopes of bringing light to the problem and to “rally the troops,” so to speak, against ISIS.

But for all the horrors, this book is very interestingly written, leaving no words to the author alone, but always quoting verbatim the conversations she had with the beekeeper and others involved in the rescues or being rescued.

If you’d like to learn more about the author and Abdullah Shrem (the beekeeper), then you can also check out this PBS News Hour Report and interview with her!

So You Think You Can Master The Cyrillic Alphabet?

If you’re looking to purchase the Cyrillic Alphabet packet, then scroll to the bottom.

I’m a firm believer that anyone can learn a second (or more) language. But how many of you studied a language for so many years through high school and/or college only to totally feel useless at it when you meet a native speaker? Yeah, thanks for nothing, Spanish! Am I right?

Well, after a year and a half in Russia, followed by a minor in the language, I took a two year hiatus from ever speaking it out loud. Turns out, anyone can also forget important aspects of a language. When I speak, I sound like I don’t even know what a verb declension is now. But I promise I really do read and listen and write fairly well still! And yet, this week I was entertained to realize that I had no idea what the ABC song sounds like in Russian, let alone the order of the letters in the Cyrillic alphabet! You’re all thinking I’m full of it. I know. I mean, I guess I had a general idea of where all the letters went based on my constant dictionary searches, but I had a tabbed dictionary, so that’s about all the alphabet study I ever did.

Luckily for me, having a toddler gives me a chance to review all my basics and start from the beginning again! I’m super excited to introduce him to Russian, and I am happy to accept any advice, resources, or encouragement you have! This week we’re off to a great start!

We watched the Baby Einstein’s Language Nursery, which I used (for myself, because I love Baby Einstein) to learn the alphabet song! I have spent the past three days singing the song while we did our normal things. And while the boys napped, I’ve been making some flashcards. Yesterday was the first time Trey and I actually went through the flashcards a couple of times, arguing over whether I was holding a shark or an акула, a horse or a лошадь, and so on.

Now, drumroll for Trey, please!

When Tyler came home last night, he drug my attention to Trey, who was sitting at the table trying to sing the Russian ABC song to himself! That was a proud mom moment. He’s such a fast little learner!

So, if you think it’s your time to learn (or relearn) Russian, I’m putting together tons of simple activities to help along the way! Flashcards, coloring sheets, little stories and printable activities, and access to recordings of my own practices (like this one below -yikes)! This is just my very first portion of what I have lined up, so check it out, and please share it with anyone who might also want to learn or teach Russian!

Yikes! That is rough, but every practice counts! Get these flashcards for yourself below!

Cyrillic Alphabet Packet

Flashcards for each letter of the cyrillic alphabet, tracing sheets, a phonics page, a brief history of the cyrillic alphabet, and a QR code so that the video above is always easy to find!

$3.00


I’m always working on different kinds of resources, so if you have ideas of things you want, send me an idea! And if you send me a really great idea, I’ll make you one for free before putting it on my store! So think about what you and your kids are interested in learning about different languages, countries, religions, and people! I’d love to hear what you have in mind!

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