Femme Friday: Katie Hayes

Katie: merciless competitor + healthy mom boss + queen of wittiness. 

This week, we are going to celebrate a woman who embodies pretty much everything that True Co. was created for: servantless, badass women. I get asked what this means - well, I think we all know what a BA woman is. Servantless... well it means without servants! No hired hands to tend to cooking, cleaning, or childcare... to make meal plans or help them workout. Servantless women get their hands dirty with the messy + merciless pursuit of happiness, balance, and wellness.

Katie, you are a rockstar.

I want True Co. followers to know her because who she is + the way she kicks butt at being a mom has made a deep impact on me in the short months that I've got to know her. Katie has A LOT of things going for her - like her athletic and savage competitiveness, how she doesn't think twice to open her home and life to others, her willingness to speak up when she sees injustices (even in a church setting), and how REAL she is. She never puts on a facade, and GOSH it is so refreshing to me. Also, CUE SWOONS for how cute her family is!!!!

I wanted to pick Katie's brain about eating well and parenting. I rarely see children who love living foods the way her kids do - so I knew I needed access to the "secret sauce" that is Katie's parenting magic. Below, we talk about how she got her kids eating healthy snacks and shares a few tips that she has learned on the path of raising three cuties.

xo Sarah


1. Tell me a little about yourself and your family....

I'm Katie, an almost 33 year old wife, mom, current photographer and past elementary teacher.  I married my high school sweet heart and have been married for 13 years and 2 weeks. We have three children.  Our eldest is 6 and she is my easy child.  She loves to explore and do all things artistic.  My second child is 3.  She is extremely "spirited."  She loves pretty much everything for at least a few minutes with the exception of when she is tired, then she likes nothing. My baby is also my only boy.  He is almost 2 and he loves mom, balls, cars, and mom.  As a family, one of our most favorite things to do is hike.               

2. What did you grow up eating? Was it healthy? How did this affect you into adulthood?

I grew up eating cereal or poptarts for breakfast, bologna sandwiches and debbie cakes for lunch, and macaroni and cheese with hot dogs for dinner; maybe with a side of corn for some vegetables.  Needless to say this was NOT a healthy diet.  My poor mom had so many picky eaters in the family, I think she gave up the fight for veggies. I was served and fought hard to not eat microwaved frozen vegetables.  I spent the first half of my life thinking I hated pretty much anything that grew from the ground.  

3. What are some of your children's favorite meals and snacks? 

My kids love fruit; ALL fruit.  Like all kids, mine will gladly eat veggie straws or gold fish crackers.  I try not to do too much non fruit snacking because I learned long ago it effects how much of the next meal they eat.  Their favorite meals now are oatmeal with ground strawberries and blueberries mixed in for breakfast.  Then for lunch they eat broccoli with a ranch dip... then peanut-and-salt-only peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat.     

4. Every time I'm in your home, I see your kids snacking on healthy treats like fruit, nuts, or an organic popsicle - How do you get your kids to try new and healthy foods?

I feel like it is half luck and half extreme determination.  The first 18 months of life I tried my hardest to put every kind of food I could in front of them to try.  This made healthier foods a norm for them.  The problem always comes when a kid turns about 2.  I've never met a child who hasn't, at least for a little while, succumb to the the "picky eater who suddenly-doesn't-like-food-even-though-they-loved-it-yesterday" phase.  What we did for my eldest was to make it fun and/or tell little fibs that helped encourage her to eat previously loved foods.  For example, we told her that Cinderella loves peas and that's what makes her Cinderella (much like Popeye).  Their other favorite veggie dish we call "Princess veggies" since it has broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.  For us, it actually became a very fun dinner ritual... and who is to say that princesses don't eat these foods?  Another silly fun tip is that my kids will at least try almost anything with Parmesan cheese.  We call it magic cheese.   My second daughter thankfully saw her older sister eat up the fun so it was an easy sell for her, and my son has yet to hit that phase.  When there is a lot of push back, we wont force foods but we tell them no seconds of another food or desserts with out at least one bite of everything.  

5. What is your advice for new moms who want to start their kids off with healthier food options? What about moms who want to change their child's eating habits?

Fruits and veggies for babies!  It's so easy to just cut them up and or cook them and let them feed themselves.  I am a huge advocate for baby lead weening/feeding.  I never spent time making purees.  I'd cut and boil any hard fruits or veggies and let them have at it.  I wouldn't worry about anything else in the beginning.  It's all about getting the flavors in their mouths and letting them learn how to chew before they swallow.  For moms looking to change eating habits, one thing I do when we've had a processed-filled or picky-eater few days is to serve the veggies first.  I will put the veggies on the table long before I put on the main course.  Since we don't snack without purpose, they are usually ready to eat something come dinner time.  I also don't make more than one dinner and there have been days my 3 year old won't eat anything that is offered.  They won't starve missing one meal by choice and she knows if she is hungry later her choice is still dinner.  I let them choose lunch (veggie, fruit, meal) so we at least get something good.  Then I use dinner as a chance to expand their palette.               

6. Today's norm is to feed kids highly processed snacks and foods - what prompted you to push back against this?

The biggest thing for me was my husband and I being diagnosed with Celiac disease.  We had to start reading labels.  Most processed food is full of gluten and we couldn't have it, so it wasn't in the house.  It forced me to learn about food and really think about the nutrition in what I was eating - protein, fiber, vitamins, etc.  Little kids and babies eat so little by the end of the day.  I was determined to have my children be well rounded eaters.  I viewed every chance to eat as a chance to check off a different type of food.  Grains, nuts, fruits, veggies, dairy, meat... once I got at least one serving of each in them, they weren't hungry for much else.   I really want my kids, when they are older, to be able to easily grab something other than chips for a snack.  I sadly never wanted to snack on nuts or fruit until after I couldn't snack on the processed options.

7. What are your "must-haves" at the grocery (that your kids eat too)?

Seasonal fruit would be a big one.  My kids are almost always allowed to eat fruit.  When a new season of fruit comes to the stores they eat it faster than I can buy it.  Watermelon is synonymous with summer and oranges with winter.  It seems to help everyone with fruit fatigue.  The other main must have is cheese sticks.  They are an easy way to get some protein and calcium.  

Whether you are a mom or not, I hope you loved hearing Katie's wisdom + experience in parenting. I love that Katie is so real + open about her mistakes and her triumphs along her journey (both as a mom and woman). For now, I am soaking up her tricks and thoughtfulness in the way she's making eating healthy an enjoyable value in her children's lives!