istock-girl-with-broccolli-300x199 REAL Food Habits for Kids That Will Last a Lifetime!

We have access to so many foods yet kids today are at a disadvantage.  Unfortunately many kids do not know the first thing about eating healthy nutritious foods. They have become familiar with convenience and accustomed their taste buds to packaged processed cheap foods.

This all starts partly because of the misinformation coming from the media, USDA MyPlate campaign, schools and even pediatricians. Yup! you heard me right schools and pediatricians.. How can that be? Schools all to often give kids mixed messages about what healthy really means. They provide processed snacks that come in packages at “snack-time” and have vending machines full of junk food and sugary drinks. Lunch is not much better often full of poor choices. Potatoes in the form of fried hash browns or fries are considered a vegetable, grains are a staple food and “low-fat” milk and other products are encouraged. To make matters worse teachers often reward with candy and treats.

Kids no longer have health class and the only education they might get is from the school health fair once a year.  The school health fairs push the USDA MyPlate dietary guidelines which encourage the outdated message that “Diets rich in whole grain foods and other plant foods and low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers.”  I express my personal opinions on the problems with the school health fair here so you can check that out!

Lets also acknowledge that children’s lack of health knowledge also stems from parents own unhealthy eating habits passing down onto their kids.

The saddest part of it all is that our kids are not being taught the connection they have to the food they eat. They have no clue that FOOD IS MEDICINE. They don’t understand the concept that what they are eating now can either feed or fight disease. Not just diseases like cancer but also chronic health problems such obesity, diabetes, and gut issues like IBS. Even depression and anxiety are impacted by chronic poor food choices and nutrient deficiencies. As parents we know this but for some reason we still buy the Doritos and stop at McDonalds for dinner all to often because its easier than fighting the food battles and just plain easier.

What if I were to tell you that taking the easier route now can have some dire consequences for your children long term. Your family’s health is in your hands!!!

As a holistic health coach and mom I know that its a tough job getting kids to eat healthy in this unhealthy world. Thats why I have found strength in empowering my children with the knowledge and tools to make healthy food choices and navigate all the junk that is out there. Our kids need to be taught that eating healthily is empowering them for their future just as much as a good education and daily physical activity.

It is important! now more than ever to arm our children with health. We live in a world where we are bombarded by toxins we have no control over, but we CAN control our food choices. Our kids need and deserve this advantage in life. HEALTH IS THE ULTIMATE WEALTH!

So where do we start ?  What are the basics ?

I have put together a list of REAL food habits all kids should know and follow to remain healthy longterm and thrive throughout life!

  • Healthy fat is our friend! Healthy fats are our fuel! Kids NEED healthy fats DAILY for proper brain function. One of the most important areas of research into the relationship between foods and behaviour focuses on getting children to eat more of the oily fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Oily fish contain beneficial omega-3  fatty acids which positively influence the signals sent back and forth between the brain and parts of the body.  Kids also need other healthy fats and the proper balance between omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids.  Think avocado’s, raw nuts, egg yolks, grass fed meats, coconut oil, pastured butter, ghee.  Get these healthy fats in your kids everyday.  If they won’t eat fish a good fish oil supplement daily IS A MUST!

  • Sugar is NOT our friend!  Kids today are eating WAY to much sugar. Not just from cakes and cookies but sugar is hiding in everything. Packaged bars, crackers, and even bread. Sugar hides under various names as a way for big food companies to fool you the consumer. You would be shocked at how much sugar today’s average kid eats in a day.  Sugar feeds disease in the body.  We need to teach kids to avoid sugar as much as possible.

This is a delicate area but kids need to know that treats are treats and should be limited.  We do not need dessert everyday thats for sure.  Teach your kids about the dangers of eating to much sugar over time. Don’t grab for a packaged snack. Think fresh!  Get their tastes and cravings fulfilled with fruit and natural sweeteners such as raw honey. This is a biggie because many adults themselves are addicted to sugar. Sugar is addicting and it starts when kids are young.

  • Eat grass fed meats and eat ALL.THE.PARTS. !!  I see kids today say ‘yuck” when they see a dark piece of meat.  Just eating muscle meat (chicken breast) is not providing enough nutrients to a growing child.  Children need all the parts even organ meats like liver to get adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals for their growing bodies.  Organic pastured Chicken skin is good for you! Teach you kids to like and try a variety of grass fed pastured meats to reap all the amazing health benefits.

Make the investment to provide PASTURED meats to your family. Stop buying processed meats from the grocery. These come from confined animal feeding operations and produce a harmful product. You are what you eat eats! Look for 100% organic pastured meats. Buy in bulk to save money. Support your areas small local farmers raising animals the way God intended and teach this to your kids!

  • Snacks yay or nay?  Do kids really need snacks?  I go back and forth with this. Let me first clarify what I mean by snacks.  The reason being snacks today are really just a whole mass marketing for BIG PROCESSED FOOD COMPANIES.  Sadly snack food marketing is aimed right for our kids making us parents confused. Many parents are in the mindset of since my child is not the greasest eater I have to provide snacks. At least they are eating something, right?  Well, not really..Snacks should NOT come in the form of a processed packaged food.

Kids can be picky so its in their best interest than when they are interested or hungry you provide them with a nutrient dense meal or snack.  Why when given the chance when they actually are hungry or say they want a snack would you give them junk in a package? This is your opportunity to get the good stuff in them!!!!

Snacking if any should come in the form of filling in the blanks of their nutritional needs that day. For example, if my kids had eggs for breakfast than the snack I would provide would be raw veggies knowing they didn’t eat any at breakfast. Also make it clear in your home from the start that snacks are not junk food! Don’t buy the junk and they won’t ask for it! Get them hooked on fruits, veggies, and nuts as snack options. Its fine to have Healthier snacks (such as dried fruit or seeded crackers) that come in packages occasionally or when in a bind but just keep it to that!

  • Drink WATER. Plain and simple! No pop, juice, gatorade. Water is best. You can’t argue with that. So many kids today are walking around dehydrated because of the mere fact they are not drinking enough water. When thirsty they are grabbing the sugary concoctions called “drinks” that are actually damaging their health.

Even kids in vigorous sports need WATER. If you are concerned and want an electrolyte drink then you can simply make a healthy one at home!  Get some fun water bottles and a good water filter in your home and send your kiddos off everyday with water in hand.  Encourage them to drink water daily.  (Clean) Water is actually the single most important nutrient you can put in your body!

  • Encourage a Nutrient Dense Plate.  Here is the basic lowdown and secret to long term health.  Fill your plate with 50% vegetables (mostly raw), 25% pastured meat, and 25% healthy fats.  This does not have to be exactly perfect but if you generally follow this protocol at most meals you are golden! Guess what? This leaves no room for processed food.

Doesn’t my child need whole grains?  Not really and here’s why. Your child is able to get an array of healthy carbohydrates from fruits and veggies. My kids eat rice and oatmeal and sprouted breads occasionally and theres nothing wrong with that but majority of their meals follow this nutrient dense plate form.  How can my family accomplish this?  Cook! I cook the food and provide healthy options so its what is available.  Teach your kids how to fill their plate in the most healthy way!

  • Eat fermented foods!  Fermented foods do wonders for our gut bacteria improving our overall immunity and ability to utilize the nutrients in our food. Fermenting vegetables improves their digestibility and helps restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut.  Raw fermented veggies are rich in enzymes which are needed to adequately digest, absorb, and utilize the nutrients in your food. Fermenting food actually increases the vitamin content and helps us to absorb the nutrients we are consuming.

Fermented veggies can be homemade or you can find many right at the grocery store.  The key to look for is that the product is a raw ferment with no additives.  Some examples include raw sauerkraut, and kim chi though you can ferment all kinds of veggies.  A popular fermented tea called kombucha is worth trying. At first these foods may seem “sour” or stronger tasting to your kiddos but overtime they come to like them. My youngest gal loves her raw sauerkraut and pickles its one of her favorite foods! Remember your gut is your second brain so keep it nourished!

All in all our kids need US to show them the way to health. It starts really from a healthy pregnancy through birth. Breastmilk is babies first REAL food and provides the greatest start you can give. From there move to REAL food and forget rice cereal. Make baby’s first food Nutrient dense!  As kids grow teach and provide them with the food and tools they need to empower themselves so ultimately they will eventually choose health over convenience.  Your family’s health is in your hands. Lets stand together to give our kids the greatest start in and throughout  life with better Health!

Be Well! 🙂

Susie R.