7 Ways to Help Kids Eat Healthy
Today, more than ever before, we need to help kids eat healthy.
Kids aren’t the only ones who need help, we all do!
But I want to talk about how to help kids eat healthy food in a day and age where, no matter where you go or look, unhealthy food is all around us.
If you can call it food at all…
And friends let me tell you, what our kids eat will not only impact their health but the health of their children…and grandchildren.
How food impacts your DNA
You might have heard people talk about genes. Maybe at a visit your doctor or when looking at your family history. You’ve probably also heard about good and bad genes and their effect on your health, passed down through your family line.
But have you ever wondered why your genes are either good or bad?
The answer is this: whatever your parents and grandparents ate, touched, felt and thought was intricately woven into the fabric of their DNA to be reproduced in future generations (i.e. you and your children).
Recent studies have shown that food has tremendous impact on DNA.
Our cells (where your DNA lies) were made to expect nourishment. Key vitamins, minerals and fatty acids that power them to excel. When any one is deficient they might be able to make it for a while but only for a matter of time before genetic mutation and disease sets in.
You might be strong, healthy and beautiful thanks to what your ancestors ate and how they lived. Today, though, we’re watching people lose their genetic wealth because of poor diet and lifestyle habits.
Like using screens, constant exposure to radiation (cell phones and wifi), eating processed junk food with ingredients you probably can’t pronounce and lathering on and inhaling slew of chemicals through personal care and cleaning products, just to name a few.
A way of living that has run in the opposite direction of nature.
And our kids?
We are the ones who can protect their future by the choices we make today.
How to help kids eat healthy food
As a mum of small kids I know how important those first few years count for optimizing nutrition. It’s like laying the foundation for healthy eating habits for the rest of their lives.
If your kids are older you can still start now! It’s better to make healthy changes now than never.
1. Cook at Home
This is a really simple thing to do. Don’t be put off by the potential overwhelm of having to cook every meal. It might take a little effort (like meal planning or cooking ahead) but it is worth every effort.
Cooking at home saves money and helps you eat healthier. There’s no question about that.
Cooking at home can also be fun because you can involve your kids! Doing something like cutting vegetables together is a great way to teach them healthy eating habits. Whenever I’m chopping carrots for dinner, my daughter snacks on them.
Food was always meant to be prepared in the kitchen. Not a factory. For thousands of years people groups, cultures and traditions have centered around the food they eat. This is what passed down traditional cooking methods that ensured the health of the people.
You as a mama, can take full control of passing down healthy eating habits to your kids just by making home cooking a priority.
2. Buy Organic and/or Grassfed
I say this with 2 things in mind:
1. I know it’s not cost efficient,
2. It’s worth every penny
and I’ll tell you why:
Depending on where you live and where you shop, there might some variations to what I’m about to talk about, but in general, most Western countries have very concerning ways with how animals are treated and raised before they are slaughtered for meat.
Most animals raised for meat conventionally are treated with hormones and antibiotics. They are also fed corn and soy. The most common “food” found in almost all supermarkets and the food industry as a whole. Both corn and soy are foreign to a cow’s natural food; grass.
But today it’s not that they are fed grains but most often genetically modified organisms (GMOs). GM crops have been around since the 90s and help the food industry cope with the high volume of food production it needs to produce every year.
While you’ll find some sources like this stating the safety of GM crops, it is only be a matter of time before we find negative implications of genetically modified organisms in our food chain.
Because if the food we eat changes our DNA, which it does, then GM crops will impact our health and probably not for the better.
Is grass-fed meat healthier?
Well for one, it tastes so much better. Real food tastes better because it’s better for you. Grass fed meat is high in conjugated iloneic acid (CLA), a natural fatty acid known to improve immunity and lower inflammation.
Organic produce is higher in vitamins and antioxidants which also means that it tastes better. Pesticides entering our water and soil has been linked to a number of health problems from headaches, respiratory issues, cancer and even death (depending on the level and frequency of exposure).
Pregnant and nursing women as well as children are at most risk for adverse reactions because their immune systems aren’t as strong as healthy adults.
Even so, no matter how strong your immune system, continual exposure to unnatural chemicals can only have a negative effect on your health.
But what about the price?
I’m sure you’re thinking: “I can’t afford to buy everything organic!”
According to the Environmental Working Group there’s a list they’ve compiled called the Dirty Dozen. If you can’t afford to buy everything organic, try to buy organic the ones that are on this list.
3. Skip the vegetable oils
This is a simple way to help you and your kids eat healthy. Vegetables oils and sugar are probably the main culprits behind all of the chronic illnesses we are seeing today. They are also everywhere.
All processed food be it for pets or humans has a combination of sugar and hydrogenated oils.
Actually I’m amazed that we are not even sicker considering some of the things we put into our mouths! If anyone ever told you that vegetable oils are healthy, please think again.
Instead of giving you a list of facts, I’d like you to try this:
Take a plate and pour some olive oil one side and canola oil on the other.
Now dip some bread into each and try it.
Which one do you prefer?
I’m going to guess that you said the olive oil.
If you did, that’s your taste buds and body telling you that it’s real food.
Vegetable oils are highly processed from unnatural substances that cause chronic inflammation in our bodies. Chronic inflammation is the root of all disease. One reason is that vegetable oils have a high content of omega 6 fatty acids.
Omega 6 fatty acids are pro inflammatory while Omega 3 fats are anti-inflammatory. Find out more here.
A good place to start is to go through your kitchen and pantry. Get rid of all vegetable oils like canola oil and sunflower oil and replace them with pastured butter, extra virgin coconut oil or try my recipe for coconut ghee. Use it as a fat for cooking and baking and you’ll start noticing a transformation in your health.
4. Focus on nutrient dense food
There are some food groups that offer more nutrition than others. Sadly the Western diet focuses on the wrong foods to fill up on energy quickly (refined grains and sugar).
When is comes to nutrition the foods to focus on are:
- Meat and Fish
- Vegetables and fruit (more vegetables than fruit)
- Healthy fats
Our society is focused on grains as the main source of energy and largest contributor of the food pyramid, which has left people void of the amount of nutrition they really need to thrive.
Today, grains are a bigger problem than before. First because of the need for mass production (GM crops), then continual spraying of harmful pesticides like glyphosate and then refining the final product to the point of absolute zero nutrition.
After packaging and distribution you’re left with something that can do more harm than good.
Which leads me to the next point…
5. Use whole grains
There’s a lot of debate about grains and a movement to stay completely away from grains.
Can grains be part of a healthy diet?
Is it really feasible for all people everywhere to remove all grains from their diet in order to be healthy?
Unless you have a serious health condition that warrants the removal of grains from your diet, this food can be part of a healthy diet.
Grains are rich in B vitamins, antioxidants, phyto-chemicals and some minerals. They also offer energy where other foods don’t. For growing children, who require a lot of energy, adding small amounts of healthy grains into their diet is OK.
But not all grains are equal.
Refined grains have had the outer layer (the bran) and the inner section (the germ) removed. It’s these parts of the grain that have the most nutrition.
If you’re going to include grains in your diet use whole grains and use ancient grains if possible. Ancient grains are grains that have remained intact without hybridization over the centuries. Some examples of ancient grains are:
Whole grains interact with blood sugar much better than refined grains (like white bread and pasta). Instead of giving you immediate energy, whole grains release energy into the blood stream at a slower rate helping you feel fuller for longer.
Traditionally, grains have been soaked, sprouted and then fermented to remove anti nutrients. If you’re new to fermentation, sourdough bread is an easy place to start. Making the starter culture involves nothing more than water, flour and time (about a week).
Here’s more on why sourdough bread is the healthiest bread.
6. Say good-bye to sugar
Known as the white man’s death, this thoroughly and widely distributed “food” is what I would call a thorn in your side. It is the #1 reason why we are facing such a decline in genetic wealth today.
Sugar is completely addicting and promotes every kind of sickness imaginable. It offers absolutely no benefit to the body other than momentary pleasure and increases the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut and body.
Sugar is in almost every processed food, be it for humans or pets, it is everywhere. Even in things you would never have thought sugar can almost always be found. That’s because it’s cheap and preserves food so why not use it abundantly?
If there’s one way to help kids eat healthy it’s to completely remove white sugar and all other processed sugar substances and replace it with real good-for-you food like raw honey or pure maple syrup.
7. Make every food option healthy
I find this to be one of the easiest ways to help kids eat healthy. It’s a simple rule of thumb to keep in your kitchen so no matter what the kids grab to eat, you know it’s going to have health giving ingredients.
The pantry can be a place where people reach for unhealthy snacks like granola bars, chips/crisps and chocolate. Even if your pantry doesn’t have those foods, “healthy” foods like dried fruit and nuts can have added sugar and/or be loaded with trans fats (bad fats).
Look through your pantry and every snack food available and take everything away that has sugar, vegetable oils or preservatives and additives; anything processed.
By keeping this rule you’ll find healthy eating so much easier for the whole family.
Summing it up
Kids are the next generation growing up in an increasingly toxic and unhealthy world. Everything they eat, touch, feel and think will be encoded into their DNA to be expressed later on.
Are they going to have healthy genes or sick ones?
Food can play a vital role in genetic expression. We as parents can take an active role in shaping their future for the better by making sure they are fed real wholesome food from the start.
This will ensure their health now and in the future.