Before I interviewed natural nutritional practitioner and coach, Cherie Seidler, I envisioned our conversation going something like this: she knows about nutrition so therefore she prepares healthy, nutritious meals every day and her kids clean their plates. Yes, Cherie knows her stuff when it comes to food and yes she prepares healthy meals for her family. But do her two boys ages 10 and 9 clean their plates? Not always. Cherie’s kids are picky eaters but she finds creative ways around it.
As a toddler, Cherie’s first son tried everything she offered. Things changed when her second son came along. “I think he realized that being picky about food was a good way to get my attention. He was also diagnosed with a sensory disorder that I think I also suffered from as a child,” says Cherie. “He started refusing anything that was crunchy or had a certain texture he didn’t like.”
The challenge was to provide nutritious foods that appealed to her whole family without catering to everyone’s specific tastes. Cherie had to think outside the box. “My older son loved Tim Horton’s so I would put a multigrain bagel in a Tim Horton’s bag,” laughs Cherie. “But it worked!”
Now that her sons are older, rules are in place. To avoid after school snacking, Cherie insists the boys finish the fruit from their school lunches and then eat another piece of fruit. If they’re still hungry they can have a bowl of healthy cereal, a serving of yogurt or pumpkin seed crackers with cheese.
Cherie makes grocery shopping an educational experience, too. “If my boys ask to try something new, I’ll ask them to read me the ingredients, the sugar and fat content and the types of fats used,” says Cherie. “Then we discuss whether it’s healthy or not.” Cherie believes kids are never too young to start learning how to decipher food labels.
When it comes to meal planning, Cherie keeps it simple. She coaches her clients to set aside time on Sundays to prepare enough food to last four days. She pre-cooks chicken breasts and thighs, stir fries vegetables, chops lettuce and peppers for salads and hard boils eggs.
Cherie works three nights a week and her kids attend extracurricular activities so it’s easy for everyone to help themselves to whatever’s in the fridge, add a sauce or a healthy dressing and make a meal. She keeps gluten free pastas and healthy tortillas on hand for easy options.
It’s a challenge to get picky eaters to try new foods but Cheri and her husband make a constant effort. They once spent three hours preparing a healthy Chinese food meal. “The kids were interested, tasted it, but never wanted to eat it again,” she laughs. “Honestly, I will bribe them to encourage them to try new things. Sometimes it’s the only way it’s going to happen.”
At the end of the day, Cherie realizes it’s hard to limit junk food sometimes, especially when kids go to friends’ houses where the rules are different. “Once my older son came home from a play date and told me he ate 12 cookies!” exclaims Cheri. And while she encourages her kids to have fun and indulge a little at birthday parties and holiday gatherings, she reminds them of the consequences of overdoing it. “They know there’s no fun in eating junk food if they’re just going to feel sick later.”
Cherie Seidler is a mom, personal trainer and NNCP. She has been working within the health industry for 10 years now and continues to believe if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life!