When it comes to the foundation of all things health related… especially when it comes to children… there’s no getting around diet and nutrition.
Now I’m sure that’s not the most fun thing for you to hear. I’m right there with you. To me, I feel like I can do much better at keeping my kids healthy when it comes to some of the other big picture areas, but for some reason, food just throws me for a loop. Maybe it’s because there are so many perfect diets out there, and I feel like what I’m doing is never up to par. No matter how good I’m doing, some authority on the subject comes along and says, “XYZ isn’t good for you anymore and here’s why.” How frustrating is that?!
Let me just clarify here… when I say “diet”, I don’t mean weight loss. I’m talking about the style and type of food you eat. So in order to make this as easy for you to grasp (since there’s already so much confusing information out there), I’m going to give you 3 main points that we’ll be discussing.
- Start small and work your way up
- Eat food that is alive and includes the 5 basic elements of nutrition
- Do NOT be a perfectionist
Let’s get started.
No matter what I learn about diets… no matter how much I want one particular thing to be true or not true… I keep coming back to this. The root of most health and behavior problems in children can be traced back to diet. If you don’t address your families diets, all the other things you can do (the other areas we’ll be discussing) won’t make half the impact they will if your children are eating a nutritionally dense diet. This journey to more natural, healthy living must be based on a healthy diet, and it must be looked at as a priority in your life.
WORK YOUR WAY INTO IT
You don’t have to go all out and radically change you and your child’s diet, but you can start learning and making small changes here and there. Radical, all-out changes do work for some people, but it’s rare. Most of the time it results in burnout. In my opinion, it’s best to start with smaller, easy changes and go from there. It’s just like Dave Ramsey teaches in his “Total Money Makeover” book… when you’re trying to rid yourself of debt, start with your smallest debt and work to pay that off first. That way, once it’s gone, you have one less debt and you’re more motivated to move onto the larger debts. It’s exactly the same with your families eating habits. Tackle the small, simple things first and work your way up.
REAL FOOD – BALANCED MEALS
When it comes to the actual diet you should feed your family, I’m personally not as concerned with your style of diet (vegan, paleo, raw, gluten-free) as I am with these few things I always try to keep in mind for my family.
First, your food needs to be whole and real. Low fat food, processed foods, and foods with low-calorie sugars and other additives are not natural. Our bodies were created to thrive off of foods that grow or are created from things in their natural state. Local and organic is best, but if that doesn’t fit your budget or it’s just not possible, just do the best you can. Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately) eating real foods rules out boxed meals, many pre-made freezer meals, and other quick-fix options like fast food. Sure you can find those sorts of things in real, whole food form, but it may cost you a pretty penny or two. Your best bet at getting the most bang for your buck is to make your food at home. Now don’t stress. I’m not talking about gourmet, 5 course meals every night. I’m busy, and I look for quick, easy, one-dish meals to make for my family most of the time. I don’t have hours to spend in the kitchen… nor do I like that.
Next, your meals need to be balanced. They need to include the 5 basic elements of nutrition: macronutrients and micronutrients. Our bodies need these things in order to flourish. Fats, proteins, and carbs are the basic fuels your body uses to grow, function, and get healthy when it’s sick. Add in vitamins and minerals on top of that, and you’ve got the perfect combination of things. Now this may be getting a little technical when I talk about balancing your meals so that they include all of these basic elements, but if you click the link and read the post, it should make much more sense to you. I know researching and writing that post really helped me to understand it better!
Lastly, I’m a big fan of eating foods that are in season and giving our bodies a rest from certain things from time to time. The more I learn about the body and herbal energetics, the more I see the value in eating seasonal foods. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail about this, but it is something to keep in mind. In the summer when it’s hot, what do you crave? What do your kids ask you for more of? Cold foods like ice cream, watermelon, and salads, right? When it gets colder outside, what do you start wanting to eat more of? Hot soups, squash and potatoes, and casseroles, correct?
NO PERFECTIONISTS ALLOWED
The last thing I want to touch on is getting so caught up and consumed in your diet that it makes you miserable and you feel trapped by it. Aka… being a perfectionist. Like I said earlier, this is a journey. Journeys have ups and downs. You don’t have to have everything planned out and set in stone. You don’t have to keep your child from ever eating a piece of junk candy again in their life. You don’t have to stop going out to eat or even slave away for hours at a time in the kitchen if you don’t want to. We mamas have enough on our plates, we don’t have to let our food rule us. That’s not how it was meant to be. Food is a helper to us… not a hindrance. Like I said earlier, start small and continue improving as time goes on. Perfectionism leads to being discontent and that leads to misery. Let’s choose life and let’s choose happiness!