Do Your Kids Eat Their Vegetables?

About 8 months ago I radically changed the way I eat.  I no longer eat dairy, wheat and sugar and I try to limit all processed grains.  There is a lot of medical evidence that grains are making us fat, tired and inflamed and that inflammation is the root of almost all disease.  So the question is “How do I turn my diet of mostly vegetables, organic proteins and nuts and seeds into something my 6 year old son will eat?”  Today my son ate bread at breakfast, lunch and dinner.  This is distressing to me and I’m sure all that glucose flooding his bloodstream is having a negative impact on his energy, his attention and his sleep.  The problem is he’s very picky and inconsistent about eating vegetables.

I went online and googled “How to get kids to eat vegetables.”  I read a few articles that suggested burying broccoli in cheese sauce or giving the vegetables cute names.  I was not encouraged.  Then I came upon an article in Psychology Today that discusses a study where children were bribed to eat their vegetables.  All I can say is I’m heading to Party City tomorrow to create a bribe-a-palooza grab bag.  Click the link for the full article.

2 Ways to Get Kids to Eat Vegetables (That Actually Work) | Psychology Today.

In a Perfect World

I was walking my dog this morning and thinking about my relationship to my microwave oven.  I know there are growing reasons for me to let go of it but I’m just not ready.  I’ve let go of sugar and dairy and my beloved black tea and let’s face it, I’m lazy.  When I think of alternative ways of heating food they always involve time and pans which means washing dishes.  I found myself thinking that in a perfect world we would all be buying farm fresh produce every day and not reheating anything.  But the world is far from perfect and most of us are busy, tired and looking for ease of use.  And then I realized that I wanted this blog to help readers get informed and healthier in a manageable way.  I admire the very disciplined people who grow their own food and cook in solar ovens.  But I’m not one them.  And I find I do better if I make small changes, one at a time, so I don’t become overwhelmed.  So if I was just starting out of this processes of making my home healthier for me a my kids what are some reasonably easy things I would do.

  1. Buy as much organic food as I can afford. When I started buying better food our bill went up by 30%.  That’s significant.  But on the positive side, we’ve been sick less often so not as many doctor co-pays.
  2. Eliminate 98% of sugar in my house.  There is increasing evidence that sugar plays a huge role in inflammation which leads to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and arthritis.  And sugar/high fructose corn syrup is in everything, i.e.; cereal, bread, crackers, condiments, sodas, and of course sweets.  I said 98% percent because I think rigid eating leads to eating disorders.  I allow my son one sweet thing a day but I also make sure we have lots of fruit and that fruit is as appealing as ice cream.
  3. Reduce dairy by finding dairy substitutes.  I used to cook with dairy almost every day.  Everything was laden with cheese.  Currently I eat dairy a few times a month and it’s usually an ounce of cheese sprinkled on a salad.  Reducing dairy eliminated the mucus that all of us we’re having all the time.  My son loves almond milk on his cereal and eats coconut milk ice cream.  Almond milk and coconut milk are readily available in regular grocery stores. Beware of soy milk.  It contains hormones which are not good for children in large doses and brands like Silk are made with genetically modified soy beans.

A Life Style Change That Supports Weight Loss

I have struggled with my weight since I was twelve years old.  And struggle is the operative word.  I’ve struggled to eat the right foods because I am passionate about food and I have struggled to eat less food because food is my comfort and my security blanket.  In the last thirty-eight years I have tried a myriad of diets, books and programs and none have had a lasting effect.  About twenty years ago I read a book called When Food Is Love by Geneen Roth and it helped me to stop dieting.  I began to focus on eating healthier food.  I was assisted by my body which is very sensitive to substances and forced me to give up certain things.  In 1984 I stopped drinking all soda, both diet and sweetened.  In 1989 I had to stop drinking coffee, a quarter of a cup would have my head buzzing.  (I did replace my coffee with black tea which is part of my current story.)  A few years later I stopped drinking alcohol because half a glass of wine would put me to sleep.  I joke that I’m such a light-weight I get buzzed at communion.  None of these I would have given up willingly if the effects on my body weren’t so unpleasant.

The last twenty years have been a slow plodding progression towards healthier eating, letting go of foods that contain preservatives and additives, high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.  For a long time I have shopped almost exclusively at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and farmers markets.  But the weight remained the same, a good 40 to 50 pounds over the recommended weight.

This past January I called my doctor’s office.  I was feeling discouraged and depressed.  My 50th birthday was six months away and I felt old, gray, tired and irrelevant.  I thought maybe the fatigue was from a new medication the doctor had put me on.  When I called the office the receptionist put me on the phone with the physicians assistant.  He listened patiently and then asked me what I was eating.  I told him my diet was pretty good but I struggle with sugar, dairy and bread.  He recommended a book, Clean by Alejandro Junger, MD.  I looked it up on Amazon and downloaded it to my Kindle right away.  The book contains a three-week detox cleanse that I highly recommend to anyone.  It is also a fascinating explanation of how our intestines work to fight off illness and disease and the role our food plays in that.

In order to do the cleanse one must do a short “elimination diet.”  Dr. Junger removes all foods that are known toxins and allergens; caffeine, alcohol, dairy, eggs, peanuts, nightshade vegetables, all sweeteners except stevia and dates, wheat and gluten grains and soy, beef, pork, shellfish, strawberries, banana, grapes and of course, anything artificial.  Daunting, no doubt.  For the last twenty years my day has started with a 12oz mug of black tea (2 teabags), soy milk and a heaping tablespoon of sugar.  But I was desperate to feel better and it was only 3 weeks.

My experience with the cleanse was nothing short of miraculous.  I immediately started to feel better, I had more energy, more patience, my mood was better.  My energy stayed even throughout the day.  I lost thirteen pounds in the three weeks on the cleanse.  My joints were less inflamed and I was less achy.   Once the cleanse was over I reintroduced the eliminated foods one at a time to see if I had any allergies of reactions.  I was shocked to discover that both eggs and nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers & eggplant) give me really bad stomach pains and headaches.  Wheat makes me sleepy and foggy.  Dairy creates a great deal of mucous for me.  I have essentially stuck with the elimination diet since I finished the cleanse in March.  I don’t have cravings for wheat, sugar or dairy, the three things I thought I would miss the most, though  I occasionally eat them.  I had a few bites of cake on my birthday or I sprinkle a little goat cheese on a salad.  But I always go back to the elimination diet.

I was at the doctor’s on Friday and I have lost a total of 33 pounds.  I feel really good and I really like the way I’m eating.  I am finally, for the first time in my life, supporting my body in the way it needs to be supported.  I recently saw a friend who commented on my weight loss.  She said, “Is it that crazy way you eat, all organic and stuff?”  Yes, it is and I’m hoping there comes a day when eating organic is the norm at not crazy at all.  What I love about it the most (though weight loss and energy are really great) is that this feels like a life style change.  I’m not looking to the end when I can “go off the diet.”  I’m really enjoying eating this way and nothing is better than that.

Wrestling Perfectionism

No one would ever accuse me of being a type A  personality.  I trend toward sloth and gluttony so trying to live a more aware life has it’s challenges.  I find myself desiring to be disciplined, ecologically pure and healthy in every facet but that is not my reality.  I am hoping with this blog, to make these aspirations easier for me and people who will read along with me.  I was talking to my sister the other day and she said, “I looked at your blog.  It’s too (wrinkled nose), you know.  I can’t do that.”  I think we all feel that way.  I can’t synthesize all this information.  I can’t let go of my coffee or sugar or cheese.  I can’t get myself to the gym when I have all these kids or all this work.  I think we all wrestle perfectionism and feel like we always on the losing end of it.

But my feeling is that if have the information that food coloring is bad for our kids we can make a choice about that.  My birthday was yesterday and my son had a mini cupcake with sprinkles.  I groaned a little at his consumption of sugar and food dye but it was my birthday.  Today and tomorrow we will be free of those things.  Don’t ask me about Tuesday because I don’t know.  So I hope that those of you who look at this blog will understand that it is not meant to make anyone feel that they are not doing enough.  My hope is this blog will be aspirational and helpful and informative.