Wednesday, March 3, 2010

{On} getting your kids to eat healthier

 It seems as if these days it's a battle to eat the healthiest foods possible. Quick and easy choices are all around, prepackaged processed snack foods, fast food, vitamin enriched everything entices us! But the question is in the long run, how good is it for us? We all come up with excuses on grabbing the bag of goldfish instead of the strawberries. The price difference is a huge consideration! Let's face it fresh produce can be pricier than processed snacks. But again what is the value difference between those two snacks! The difference is unbelievable.

I recently read a book suggested by a friend called Disease-Proof Your Child. Now I admit the Title is a bit deceiving, seeing as we live in a sinful world full of diseases some of which you have no control over! But one interesting fact Dr. Joel Fuhrman notes is that what we put into our bodies from birth to about 14 years is the most critical for fighting disease later in life! Why? We are building a fertile cellular foundation for disease and cancer later in life when we aren't feeding our cells the powerful cell-healing nutrients they get from fruits and vegetables! Read an Article on Feeding your Child and yourself for that matter! And if it amazes you or astounds you I encourage you to borrow or buy his book! One of the best quotes from the book (in my humble opinion) is that it's not what you are eating it's what you aren't eating that matters. Most likely if we are stuffing ourselves with processed foodlike substitutes, we aren't eating enough raw, whole foods!

So I have been on a journey these last few months, maybe prompted by this pregnancy and the need to eat and feel healthier, wanting to educate myself a little more on nutrition or because I also have hypothyroidism which makes both gaining and losing (in my case) very difficult! My journey started with researching raw foods, whole foods and just plain healthy foods. Over the last few months we've made a transformation in our house to eat healthier, and I've done it all without making a big fuss about it, holding a family meeting and tossing out all the processed foods in dramatic fashion. In fact what I did was the opposite of all that. And the family is currently riding on a little train, hopefully to better health without really knowing it!

So what did I do????

1.Stop stocking. I stopped buying processed snack and lunch items and just started letting them eat raw and whole foods instead. When the huge box of (carcinogen loaded) chips from costco was gone, I replaced them with dehydrated apple chips, pear chips, strawberry/banana chips.....and don't buy chips anymore. Instead of Goldfish and Teddygrams, I started offering sliced fruit, yogurt, fruit smoothies, granola, trail mix for snacks instead. When the questions was asked if we had any [fill in the blank] I would just say, "Nope we are out of that! But we have [replace the old blank]!

2. Be stealth.  Don't announce you used whole wheat flour instead of white for those yummy cookies, just let them enjoy! I don't notice the difference and neither do the kids when I exchange the whole wheat for the white flour in certain recipes (except my *famous* french bread, but you can make that whole what as well!). Slowly make switches from white rice to wheat, make it hapa style or half white and half wheat if you want to start slow.

3. Enjoy the homemade. Okay I love oreos and I am pretty sure those are full of processed foodlike substances. So when you want something not healthy (or semi healthy) make it yourself! Make your own cookies (and please let me know if you find a homemade recipe for oreos!). No preservatives, no dyes, you can change up the flour or eggs or butter with substitutes (or add blended veggies!) and still enjoy the sweets!

4. Don't go overboard. We aren't perfect or adamant about people not feeding our kids sugar or processed foods. But what we offer them now are much healthier alternatives. My kids are in my care and under my watch most of the time so I get to decide what they eat most of the time. So if they get something we aren't buying as snack at Awana, etc. I don't care. Like I said it's more about what they ARE eating most of the time.

5. Become a self appointed nutritionist. (without going overboard!!) Do a little reading and research about what is in foods! For instance did you know that a cup of peas has 10 grams of protein???? I was floored by this little bit of info, protein in veggies???? You'd be surprised what a little time reading about what is in healthy foods will encourage you too want to eat those healthy foods!

6. Cut down on animal products. You absolutely do not have to become a vegetarian or vegan (though you can!) but cutting down on animal products~ especially hormone/steroid/antibiotic fed ones can dramatically improve your well being and health!

So what about kids who don't like fruits or veggies? Enter Ellie. She likes apples (sometimes) bananas (on occasion) and licking the ranch dressing from carrots. this girl is a meat eater, especially pork products. So we do tastings with her. She does eat corn and some veggies and she isn't a gagger (thank the LORD!) but she won't choose fruits and veggies over the processed stuff. SO each week I buy a different fruit along with the ones we always have on hand and for either snack or lunches we taste! Studies have shown a few things about kids and food ::
  • It takes between 10-15 tastes to be accepted by the buds, so don't give up the first time your baby spits out peas or gags. Try it day after day after day! Even as kids get older and you want them to like or try certain foods. Keep offering and have them taste each time, one bite will do. They don't have to eat the whole bowl of sliced pears, just a taste! Now this doesn't guarantee they will eventually eat everything, but they will enjoy a wider variety of foods this way!
  • Monkey see Monkey do! If your kids see you munching on some watermelon or a pear or an avocado, eventually they will at least want to try it. They will copy our habits if we let them! And healthy habits are the best to copy! I didn't get ALL the kids drinking green smoothies by force feeding it down their throats. I drank them everyday! And eventually even Dave wanted to try them!
I know that buying fresh fruits and produce can be hard on a budget. But here is the interesting part. Since we've replaced the processed foods like chips, crackers, cookies etc with healthier foods, our grocery bill has not gone up, we are just spending it differently! You can get a bunch of bananas for less than a bag of chips! Once a month cooking has really helped us spend less as well, and costco has quite a bit of organic goods at great prices. Most things you can't use quick enough can be frozen! I bought a huge bag of Broccoli for about $4 (way cheaper than the regular grocery store) and froze half of it, slowly using it for cooking while the kids ate most of the other half with lunch and dinner raw or cooked! You just have to change your way of thinking about food and maybe be a little creative with it. Frozen fruit is awesome for
green smoothies! And an incredible way of getting all kinds of nutrients into you and your kids! (yes even better than chewing all that spinach!)

It's been an adventure for our family, and Dave even admitted all this "healthy eating" is rubbing off on him! He's cut down on one or less Pepsi a day and eating healthy snacks too! And I didn't even have to nag him at all. I just stopped buying the junk we had laying around!


  1. Love this post, there are some great suggestions in here.

    If you want a good homemade oreo recipe, check this one out (a lot of her recipes are good!):

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