Meet Mom Annaliesse Nassiri, Husband Josh, 2 Girls
Raising a young family abroad has its challenges, but when it comes to eating, experiencing how other cultures treat feeding children can also be a perk. For the Nassiri family, a stint stationed in Japan for the U.S. Navy opened mom Annaliesse’s eyes to the approach she now uses back at home as her girls continue to grow into their preferences.
Here’s a hit list of tips & tricks from this well traveled VitaFam:
- Philosophy: expose them to a lot of different foods, don’t avoid strong flavors. “When they were young, we had a nanny that was a professional chef, and she would give them foods like sardines or fish curry.” recalls Annaliesse, adding that “Living in a different country also helped; our kids were 1 and 3 when we moved to Japan, and they ate sushi and pickled vegetables because they saw other kids doing it. I think it’s a bit of an American thing to feed kids only certain foods, while part of the philosophy of the Japanese schools is to expose kids to traditional foods.”
- Read labels: understand what the ingredients are. “We eat a lot of fruit, so I’m usually looking to see if there’s protein and fiber” to complement those nutrients. Variety and quantity of vegetables is also a focus, she adds, “making sure they are getting enough vegetables and fiber is always a challenge.”
- Meal Planning: make a plan, share the plan. “One of our kids really likes structure and always wants to know what’s happening. It really helped our family to make a meal schedule each week, so they always know what to expect. This has really reduced the number of complaints or nagging for certain foods and it also makes sure we have variety, since I’m planning it in advance.” A crowd favorite? Build Your Own Burrito Night. “I put out lots of healthy topping options and the kids can pick what they want to use. It goes over really well to let the kids assemble their own dinner.”
- The Family Meal: Trial, Options and Seconds. “We serve a family meal, and while they don’t have to eat everything, they do have to try it.” Annaliesse adds, “if I’m serving something I know one of my girls absolutely won’t eat, I try to offer an alternative veggie option so she has a choice. Also, we generally don’t serve more of the less nutritious items until they’ve eaten or tried the more nutritious things.”
- Amp it Up: Boosting Whole Food Nutrition. “It can be hard to know where to draw the line with healthy foods, insisting that they try or eat healthy things vs. creating a negative or contentious situation.” says Annaliesse, adding that while the family doesn’t focus on supplements to check every nutritional box she likes to boost their diet more organically, such as using Vitaminis in their smoothies. “It adds a nice bit of sweetness, as well as additional vitamins. Nutritionally it’s really sound and I like the size as I generally don’t buy juice, but here it’s limited to an appropriate size.” she says, with only one desire, “I wish it didn’t use so much plastic.”
We hear you, Annaliesse (and other VitaFam members who share this concern), per our post on packaging we would love a non-plastic option, and will keep looking out for one. In the meantime, we are recyclable!