Before I had kids, I looked down on pregnant women and families with kids chowing down on fries and burgers. I’d smirk smugly to myself and think, When I’m pregnant, I’ll only eat organic, and my kids will be born eating kale.

I was naïve and didn’t know the first commandment of parenthood:

Thou Shall Not Pass

Judgment on Other Because: Karma. (The second commandment being don’t brag about your child’s immune system, because the poop and vomit gods hear that as a personal invitation into your home.)

During both my pregnancies, I haunted the local Chick-Fil-A, eating through their fry and vanilla milkshake inventories. And when my oldest turned 2, any previous attempts at healthy eating went out the window. Processed American “cheese” smashed between slices of white bread? Fine. Every day for a week? Sure.

Here’s what I’ve tried to make my child’s eating habits greener and less cheesy:

  1. Veggie nuggets. Chicken nuggets reign supreme at our house, so I thought I’d pull a fast one and make broccoli tots. They were as disgusting as they sound, but I attempted to mask the grainy texture and overall taste with sly organic ketchup. He got two bites in before the tears came.
  1. Smoothies. I think I’ve discovered another aspect of how we humans are evolving. Kids now have a sixth sense where they can detect even the hint of a spinach leaf, but if you mask the veggies with enough fruit, smoothies can be a good option.
  1. The word “sauce.” My toddler loves ketchup and barbecue sauce. He’ll dip his fork in and eat them solo. When I present him with thick soup or hummus and tell him it’s “sauce,” he actually eats it—one small, fork-covered bite at a time. This isn’t a good option if you want meals to last under an hour.

Carrie Taylor is a freelance writer and mother of two boys.

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