A couple of months ago I overheard my 7 year old tell a friend that he couldn't eat corn because it wasn't paleo. He then went on to explain that scientists have created a new form of corn in a laboratory and it is not the corn God created for our bodies. What?!?!? My kids actually listen to me? Seriously could not have been prouder of my little guy! I mean sure I try to explain to all my kids the whys (can't help it because they ask "why" so darn much) but I never really expected them to get it. This little experience solidified my belief that we need to be taking the time to educate our little people on what is going into their bodies. Sure, school with educate them on the dates of all the battles, teach how to do math using the alphabet, and maybe even how to ask for the bathroom in a different language but will our children learn how to make a lunch that will be not be damaging to their health?
I'm certain the vast majority of us eat according to our limited schedules and are driven by our cravings. There are a few that attempt healthy eating but are missing the target completely because we have been lied to about what foods are good for our bodies. I still have customers ask for low-fat products! Listen people, fat is back! It is good. You are starving your ever shrinking brain without it! Lets break this cycle. Let teach our little monsters how to make healthy meal choices and why.
1.) We have to set the example. Get your own health figured out. Find out the "whys." Get ready for the questions. Get educated. If you don't know where to start shoot me an email and we will work together on it.
2.) Stop giving your crazy children sugar. I am amazed at how often I see kids drinking sodas! I'll have parents tell me, "I only let my kids have sodas on the weekends." NOPE, not good enough. Maybe once or twice a year people...if that. I'm not judging here...my Jack thinks Dr. Pepper is the most amazing thing he has ever had the privilege of sharing with his daddy. But sugar is not always so obvious. It is in those chips, yogurt, fruit gummies, juice, peanut butter, trail mix, granola, muffins, cereal, sandwich bread, and on and on. Our little people have a hard enough time not powering up and blasting through the walls as it is and bless their tiny little over-stimulated hearts when you pack them a sugar-filled lunch and then they have to sit in a desk for 3 more hours! This is an extreme form of torture for anyone!
3.) When you set a plate of grilled chicken bites, raw carrots, olives, and apple slices with almond butter in front of them explain to them what they are eating. Protein that will make their muscles big, beta carotene that will make them have super seeing powers, monounsaturated fats that keep their hearts healthy and brains smarter, and soluble fiber that keeps pooping from being the life-sucking issue we all know it can be when our kids tummies start hurting because they just won't go.
4.) You have got to be cool. Now this comes easily to me but I understand that not everyone has my natural inclination at coolness. If you hate certain vegetables you sure as heck better play it cool and act like they are GOOOOOOD. Your kids listen to everything you say (whether or not they choose to actually respond to it) and watch your every reaction. If you start to gag when you take a bite of zucchini then your kiddos will too.
5.) Don't give up. We have a "no thank you" bite rule where you must take a bite of each food on your plate before leaving the table. Time and time again I have witnessed my kids hating a food the first nine times I put it in front of them but I didn't give up and on that tenth "no thank you" bite they decide it is their new favorite food. This is no lie. Sometimes it takes trying the food in a different way. Jack hates baked sweet potatoes but LOVES them roasted or as hash. Addie hates cooked carrots but will turn her little mouth and fingers orange from eating them raw. Texture is a big deal to kids so play around with cooking methods.
6.) When you are tired and exhausted and haven't had a spare second to run to the grocery store and the kids are starving and continue to remind you ever 15 seconds that they are "hunny" then by all means run through Chick-fil-a and get those demanding little squirts some nuggets. Have a back up plan. I always have those frozen tilapia filets and some steamable frozen veggies in my freezer. It takes 20 minutes to get that meal on the table. It may not be everyone's favorite meal but it is food, it is healthy, and nobody will be complaining once their bellies are full.
7.) Kids just need water. They do not need juice or tea or Kool-Aid or soda or anything that is colorful. They only need water. End of story.
8.) Figure out your family's eating rules and keep them. For instance, if you are new to eating healthy maybe state that there will no longer be any kind of grains for lunches or dinners, including breads, rolls, battered foods, crusts, etc. Or maybe say that from here on out nobody can leave the table until every food item has been tried. Then stick to it. Kids do really well when they know what to expect. In our home the rule is that we do not have non-paleo foods in our house but when we go out to eat the kids can choose their own meals. This gives them a little more control over their decisions and makes eating out special and not just the normal expected activity.
9.) Have a variety of food options for them. Do not give them grilled chicken and broccoli every night for dinner. Of course they will resent eating healthy. Kids really love food presentation...such as meatballs or anything on a stick. Make it fun to eat. Make it a game. If you are serving ground beef over hash give them a spoon and give them a point every time that spoon gets the food from plate to mouth without spilling. Give different recipes silly names or name a recipe after a child. We call salmon patties Crabby Patties despite their lack of crab but just because Sponge Bob is cool. Have paleo dips available. You can buy these pre-made or you can find lots of recipes online. Dipping is fun.
Now I know lunches are a little more difficult because you don't really have time to actually cook. So choose some item from the following list, throw onto a plate or pack in a lunch box and call it done.
Deli turkey rolled up and guacamole to dip. You can also roll veggies into the turkey roll as well to add some crunch such as carrots, jicama, cucumbers, etc.
Kitchen sink salad. Grab some meat and all the veggies in your fridge and chop small. Toss with paleo-dressing.
Leftover meatballs on a stick with olives, red bell peppers, pepperoni and pizza sauce for dipping.
Deviled eggs and shredded chicken salad with strawberries, spinach, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sliced almonds.
Hard boiled eggs, walnut red pepper dip with baby carrots, celery, radishes, cucumber.
Cold fajita meat with tomato and avocado and mixed green salad. Squirt with lime.
Grass-fed beef franks, snap peas and coconut yogurt with almonds.
Leftover sausage, broccoli, crumbled bacon, avocado and sunflower seeds chopped and tossed.
Sugar-Free ham, apple slices, almond butter and paleo muffin.
So now you have no excuse. There a ton of ideas to choose from. If that is not enough check out Paleo Lunches and Breakfasts on the Go by Diana Rodgers. I love every recipe in it!!! Amazon has it uber cheap right now too!
10.) Please understand that your kiddos diet is directly related to his or her health. This is a big deal. It is serious. It is not something to laugh off and just shrug our shoulders and say "I just don't have the time." I don't have the time either...nobody does. But I guarantee you if one of your children was born with diabetes or cancer or a debilitating autoimmune disorder you would make the time to do whatever treatments/medicines/diets was necessary to improve your precious baby's life. Well food is medicine. It not only can treat but also prevent these terrible health issues that will most likely be in your child's future if she or he is not taught how to care for his or her body now. We look at our kids and they are sooooo perfect. Rosy cheeks, tons of energy, no illnesses and we don't consider that what we are putting into their perfect little bodies today will affect the body they have as adults.
Listen, I know it is hard. You do not have to tell me because I get it. I'm right there with you. But I also know you can do this. You can provide a solid foundation for your kiddo's health. If anything I hope this post gives you the push you needed to finally crack down. Do it for an entire month. Don't give up and I guarantee you that at the end of the 30 days you will be amazed at the difference in your outlook and in your child.