intenSati’s Patricia Moreno on how she gets her kids to eat real food.

Patricia Moreno has been teaching people the principles of living healthy for over 30 years, but the inspirational leader and creator of the intenSati Method, a workout that fuses together interval training, martial arts, dance, and yoga with empowering affirmations, is facing the challenge of a lifetime when it comes to handing down the same knowledge to her children. 

“The stakes are higher because it’s not just about my living healthy, now I’m responsible not only for the kids’ health in the moment but their lifestyle habits, what they are going to think about food and their body, and how they grow up into this conversation. I take it extremely seriously,” the mother of three tells us. “It’s quite a privilege to be able to offer kids that foundation. It’s also the most challenging job I’ve ever had. It’s truly my spiritual practice, to try and stay calm and centered when you have three little ones and you are working and life. It’s physical. It’s mental. It’s everything.”

Moreno, whose weight struggles, eating disorders and body image issues as a child inspired her to create intenSati (which she teaches five days a week at Equinox fitness clubs in New York City) reveals that it is important to start the discussion about food and nutrition at a young age, and that she is currently introducing the topics to her four-year-old daughter.

“We talk about it. We talk about movement and how important it is for your body. And we talk about the difference between real foods. You know, just educate. Like, ‘This is really good for you. It will make you feel strong.’ I try and tell her a little about what the foods do for your body. She takes it in.” 

According to Moreno, her daughter is already on her way to living healthy. “Her number one mantra is ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away,’ and she eats it. She’s like, ‘It’s time for my apple a day,’ and you know, that’s the greatest joy, to see them consciously making those choices. She says ‘I know I shouldn’t have a lot of sugar, but every once and a while it’s okay, right mom?’ I’m like, Yes. Balance.”

Oh right, that.

Here are more tips from Moreno on how to get your kids to eat healthy:

Set an example.  Kids learn from their environment. They want to eat what I’m eating, so even if it’s healthy, they still want it. 

Make real food accessible so it’s easy to choose over packaged, processed junk. 

Leave cut-up apples or grapes out so they’re easy to munch on.

Talk about moderation and choices. Let your child choose two days a week to have her special food. My four-year old wanted to have chocolate milk everyday. Now, she wakes up Friday and Saturday morning saying “Yeah! It's chocolate milk day!” She doesn't even ask for it the rest of the week. 

Get your kids involved in cooking and juicing. Every Sunday we make fresh juice and as we’re washing, cutting and juicing, we taste and talk about the benefits of each fruit or vegetable. For example "This spinach has lots of iron and makes your body strong." Plus, they’re more likely to eat and drink whatever they participate in making.