This is such a CRUCIAL conversation and we need to take a serious look at what our culture is doing to our next generation by way of the food we put in their sensitive bodies. Read on for some practical advice on how to help your children eat healthier.
DON'T JUST FEED YOUR CHILDREN. EDU-FEED THEM!
So what can we do as parents? Well, we can start by educating ourselves as to what we should put in our bodies. I found that as soon as I understood more about the world inside my body, the more motivated I was to take care of it. I often say that I wish our bodies were see-through!! Oh, how we would pay more attention then.
Once we get the basics down, talking to our children about WHY we're feeding this or that to them is crucial. If you don't know the "why's and why not's", do a little research. And for goodness sakes, don't tell them it's because they'll LOOK better. This will do more damage than good. Teach them about what food actually does to their insides!! Here's a cute little cartoon, which gives a very detailed explanation of our digestive system.
Now, it doesn't matter if they don't get this at first. My kids still "cheat" when they go out - but the things they're cheating on are still healthy compared to our Standard American Food. I'm not saying, "be scientific about everything or even ANYthing." But, meet your child at their level. Talk to them about WHY eating healthy is such a beautiful experience for their bodies. Tell them their tongue likes to trick them into believing that the terrible foods taste good! This, by the way (if you want to go deeper in your explanation and depending on the age of your child) is because chemists want to create addictive substances in order to trick them into wanting more (yes this is true)! Just whatever you do... tell them something!!
~Another trick for older children is to let them stay up late... allow me to explain: So, my children's bedtime is 8:00pm. They know this is non-negotiable to a certain degree. But once or twice, every so often, I invite them to stay up late!! Oh, how excited they are about this! The stipulation? Well, I'm watching this amazing documentary and you are welcome to watch it with me or you can go to bed. Guess what they ALWAYS choose. Kids, especially the older ones, won't listen to mom or dad, are you KIDDING ME?!! But they WILL listen to someone ELSE tell them. ;)
BUT I CAN'T GIVE UP MY "PLEASURES" IN LIFE
Do you know how trapped we've made ourselves become with this way of thinking?
Pleasures in life?
I'll tell you what should give us "pleasure". Spending time with family and friends, playing games, having bonfires and sing-alongs, talking and challenging one another, playing outdoor sports together, exercising together, helping our community together, going on a missions trip, gardening, etc (add any other hobby you like here). I am not saying that eating isn't important. Obviously we need food and we can enjoy it! But, why have we created our whole ability to be "pleasured" around it? Only mere hundreds of years ago we ate what was growing in our back yard? Now, we have to have every single meal our FAVOURITE MEAL!??!
I have heard people also say that when they eat healthy, they can't enjoy going out with others for supper, or go out to restaurants with their friends, or even that they want their kids to feel "normal" at school. Some people feel depressed and even stay home, rather than going out and spending time with their friends. This mentality has got to shift - and it can! Why CAN'T we enjoy being with our friends JUST because we take something off a plate and put it into a hole in our faces?! You mean, because of picking up a hard cylinder object and lifting it up toward our mouth we should stay home if the liquid doesn't match the person sitting across from you?!?
Do you hear how silly this sounds?
Raw Beet Ravioli! All over the place, restaurants are offering Raw Food Luxuries and other healthy options!!!!
Nowadays, there is a HOST of amazing and fun ways for kids to be able to bring healthy food to school and look cool doing it. Here is one way to make it quick and easy:
But, you're still telling me you can't give up this mentality yet aren't you? Well, you know what? That's okay. This mentality is so ingrained in our heads from many generations before us. It USED to be that we ate to live. Now we live to eat. Food has become an addiction and we need help. So what can we do?
EAT HEALTHY AT HOME
Eat extremely healthy at home and have some indulgences when you go out. Compromise? I think it's a good one. Eat healthy INSIDE your home and still try and pack your lunch for you and your kids. OUTSIDE of this, it's all freedom! This takes away the trap of failing in the beginning, in my opinion. I don't know about you. But, my weakness is anything that comes in that door. I lack some self control. Sound familiar? If it's in my house, it's calling out my name until it'saaaaaalllll gone! So my solution? Don't bring it home! If I go out with my friends and they offer me chips? I might take it. I might not. But, don't you see? There's so much freedom in this!! It's not about losing weight or looking good on the outside. It's about working on yourself from the INside out!! THAT'S what matters. If you have a weak moment and you bring home some chips one day, THAT'S OKAY!! Just don't give up trying and it will all come together. I fail even these days (as long as the kids are sleeping). ;) Haha!! I am definitely more strict with my kids though. They are FAR more sensitive in their bodies and need more healthy building supplies to get them through these first years of life.
Now, the only time this doesn't apply for your family is if you eat out ALL the time or hang out with your friends every night (then I have a different plan for you). ;) It's also possible that eating this way might even make you LOOK for reasons to eat out more. Yikes! But set yourself a standard and watch for addictions and trends in your life that weigh you down. You'll see it's much more easier doing it this way than having unhealthy food in your house and trying to ignore the call to battle. ;)
WHAT TO DO WITH "THOSE" PEOPLE IN YOUR HOME WHO TEMPT YOU
The other issue you may have is that you live in a house where others bring it home - you know "those" people. They support you by telling you they were thinking of YOU when they bring home the pop and chips and pizza. *Sigh* Well, I've known this to be an easy fix by explaining to your loved ones that if they want to eat that "stuff", they've GOT to wait and eat out just like you. If they love you and understand that you are doing this for the children, they may need some time, but they will hopefully do what's best. They may need you to send them articles like this or other articles that you think will get their attention. Believing that hot dogs are harmful to your children has to be backed up by science. Get them some cold hard facts and ask them to read it. Don't inundate them... just get them a short article every couple of hours (jokes! - don't do this!) but one or two short articles each week should help them be on the same page. This is extra work for you, but oh-so-worth it. :)
WHERE TO START
So How do you start getting rid of unhealthy food in your home?
NUMBER ONE: READ THE LABELS!
The first thing you absolutely CAN do is to go through your house right after reading this article. I just saw a Quote that says, "To know how much you LOVE your body... Look in your fridge!!" When you look in your fridge and cupboard, is your body giving you a happy dance or are your cells SCREAMING at you to run!! Again, don't confuse what your body NEEDS to what your emotions or tongue WANTS.
Find everything that is in a box or a can and start reading labels. You may quickly find out that some of the "healthy food" you bring home has minimal "food" in them. Others are packed full of words you can't pronounce and you KNOW that any food in there has got to be tainted. The ingredients are listed in order from what is MOST in there, to the least. So if you have a box that has a label saying, "natural ingredients", yet, the actual natural ingredient is near the bottom of the ingredients list, after sugar and glucose-dextrose, you know you aren't eating a whole food.
NUMBER TWO: GO DO SOME GOOGLING!!
Once you see for yourself what these ingredients are, simply type them into google search engine along with "+ toxic" and see what you come up with. NEXT, google some WHOLE food recipes. Print off or write out a recipe or two from places like http://mynewroots.org/site/ or http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipes and be amazed at how good food can taste without all the added ingredients!!
NUMBER THREE: MENU PLAN
Start to consider menu planning to make it easier on you and your family. I cannot make healthy meals day in and day out for my family without menu planning. I get tired and go to the fridge, only to find out that my ingredients I may have needed are not there. Worse, I open the fridge and stare, not knowing WHERE on Earth to start and it's closing in on 5:30 in the evening. Guess what happens? I resort to making less than ideal meals for my family and we all suffer. If you don't know how to menu plan, there are countless resources online to choose from. Simply type in: "How do I menu plan" in google and voila!
NUMBER FOUR: THROW IT OUT OR GIVE IT AWAY
Once you have completed the first three, it is now time to clear out your pantry and fridge. Or, you could give it away!!
Okay, so I know some people have a real hard time throwing food away. I completely understand. If this is you I have one other option and maybe you can come up with a few of your own:
1. Eat what you have left, but give yourself a timeline. Lets say... two months (give or take an extra month for those condiments hiding in the back of your fridge or cabinet) to eat the rest of your junkfood and research alternatives for lunches for your kids. Gradually restock your home with ONLY the healthiest of choices.
2. Give it away anyways. Don't think about it or it will torment you. Just get a box and start replacing 10 items for 10 items each week. Deal? Deal. :)
3. Use the ingredients you don't want your kids using and make some HUGE recipes for your neighbours!! This way, you're giving food away but getting a valuable reward at the same time! :D
BUT MY JUNIORESS WILL NEVER EAT THAT HEALTHY STUFF!!!
My children will go without food before I let them pull that on me. Yes, it has been known to happen once or twice around here. ;) My children receive healthy meals. If they don't like it, they don't eat. Simple as that. They don't get the option of coming back to the fridge for something "yummier" later. This may not get them to eat healthy tonight. But it sure will get them eating healthy tomorrow... and the next day... and the next. Stick to your guns on this. It's difficult at first, let me tell you. Oh, the tears will fall and they may hate you. But, think about the tears that will fall when they're in their thirties and disease and disorder strikes. Lets give our kids the BEST chance we've got. They say the first six years are CRUCIAL in a child's life. You better believe these six years includes proper nutrition!!
Some will say that they are afraid of this "control" technique backfiring. I disagree wholeheartedly with this fear and believe it is a myth. Those who fear their kids will grow up and have anorexia or bulemia need to see the research and this is simply not the case. Those who go down that path have much deeper-seated issues than, "my mom made me eat healthy!!"
Sprouted Lentil Soup!!
Cook Veggies only until they are still crisp, maintaining some of their nutrients. Sprout your lentils and add them after your soup is in the bowl for added enzyme, phytonutrient, vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids.
Here's a few more tips that will help you on your path:
Step 1: Have them make their OWN meals! My kids make their own lunches every day. Yes, it is messier. But, they LOVE creating their own dishes. Let them pick their own food from the garden or your local market and put it in their salads!! It's amazing how much more they'll eat when you let them create it on their own.
Picking spinach from our garden
Step 2: Give them a *LITTLE* bit of their favorite food, then add a little bit of the healthier food they DON'T like. For instance, if you know they love pizza, just give them a bite or two so you know they are still hungry. On the same plate at the same time as the pizza, give them a little bit of the food you know is good for them. Then tell them they can't have more pizza until they try the food they don't like.
Just have them put the tip of their tongue on it this first time if that's all you can do. The next meal, do the same thing, but have them try a 1/4 teaspoon of that same food they don't like before they get their favorite meal. The next meal have them eat 1/2 teaspoon and so on and so forth. Soon, they will try it without being asked and might even start to LOVE it!! This has happened with our kids more times than I can count. They will also know you mean business. Oh, there might be a fight on your hands but don't back down. This is the rest of their healthy lives you are dealing with. What's a couple days of temper tantrums in the grand scheme of things. "Now", is the time to enforce this. Many studies show that what you teach them in these early years, will take them further in life than any other habit they learn later.
If you have an adventurous child, it won't take long at all. But some kids are stubborn and/or truly have sensory issues. This will work with those kids too. :) It also worked with my highly sensory kid.
Step 3: Hide it. Make a smoothie (again, google "smoothie recipes"). In it, add one spinach or kale leaf the first time. Keep adding one, then two, and so on. They won't even notice that eventually, their smoothies are green and they're asking for "Shrek Smoothies" for breakfast!! :)
SO, IF 'HEALTH' IS A RELATIVE TERM WHAT EXACTLY DOES IT MEAN?
Everyone is going to have their own idea of what "health" means. Hence the term, relative. Saying that, it is almost in determining what health ISN'T to get to the bottom of this debate. What it isn't is giving chemicals to your body. This is a no-brainer. We cannot avoid it 100% but we can do our best with what we've got. Our bodies need to fight and how can it fight if we don't arm it with the best of foods?
If you are ready to even take just one step. I can help you. It's as easy as changing the way you make french fries from white potatoes in deep fried oils to baking sweet potato fries slightly in the oven with coconut oil. Watch how your children will devour this!!
I know that being dogmatic and FANATICAL about what goes into you or your children's bodies is warranted if you are suffering with any type of diagnoses and you've chosen against pharmaceutical methods. If you find you or your child to be tired, irritable, and depressed all the time, unfocused all the time or sick all the time, even without a diagnosis, it might be time you get serious about what you put into your family's body. You are suffering unnecessarily. Thereason why I'm so fanatical about what we put in our bodies is because time and time again, I have seen it heal people. I have seen it take someone with schizophrenia and make them feel grounded. I have seen it heal from Autism and Adhd symptoms. I have seen it revive energy like nothing else! Can you imagine!?!?! Just changing the way we come to know and chew up our food can eliminate and minimize behavioural symptoms from your children so that not only YOU enjoy being with them more... but, that they can enjoy being in their own skin. Isn't this worth being just a LITTLE fanatical about?