OK, as most of you know I am not a fan of being wordy, at least on blog posts! Day to day life might be a different story! This blog post is one of the longest I have written thus far, but I hope that it is worth it. My goal is to empower you to feed your family well without exhausting yourself or breaking the bank! There is so much to say on this it is being turned into a series. Today let’s talk about what foods you want your kids to eat and why!
My Dreamboat has just returned from a week long trip and I am excited to say we survived! We normally keep our schedule pretty simple- I am not one to sign us up for a bunch of extracurriculars, but with my man gone I figured I needed to add in a few fun things to help my boys cope with their dad’s absence. And, let’s be honest, to help me wear them out for my own sanity! The busier schedule was a nice distraction, but it was also a very clear reminder of how hard it can be to feed your kids and yourself well in today’s busy society with all its convenient pre-packaged goodies.
I understand the temptation is strong to simply pick up a quick meal for the family because you’re worn out by the end of the day. I know how hard it can be to try and get a toddler to eat anything but crackers and cheese. I get that sometimes convenience can seem extremely beneficial. But when it comes to feeding our littles, the more we give into these temptations the more we are doing them harm.
Now, before you get upset with me, let me say there are ways to navigate those situations in a way that can make your life easier AND be healthy for you and your kiddos but looking at the statistics that is not usually the choices that are being made.
So how do we help to change these statistics in our own home without exhausting ourselves?
The Daily Rules (components of a good diet)
Getting kids to eat everything we think they should in a day can be challenging. Stopping them from snacking on junk food is even harder. The best way I have found to make sure my kids are getting the nutrients they need each day is to follow my Daily Rules:
- Quality protein is a must: This rule is simple for us- pick a protein for each meal. That is it. There are a lot of kids who just don’t enjoy eating meat. But good quality protein is vital for children to grow! Protein aids in muscle and bone growth and the health of their organs and blood. Fortunately, there are a few sources to choose from.Meat: When you are choosing meat remember to make sure it is the best quality you can afford. At the very least you want to make sure that the animal was not fed GMO foods. Ideally, you want pastured animals from small organic farms.*Money Saving Tip: Talk to your local ranchers and see if they will give you a discount if you buy in bulk. You can also talk to hunters and see if they have extra meat that they would sell. We choose unpopular meat- meat close to the bone- which are usually significantly less expensive. The added bonus is that those cuts tend to be most healing.
Eggs: Organic, pastured eggs are an incredible source of protein and nutrients. I know that when comparing prices pastured eggs seem outrageous, but for what they provide your child’s body and brain, I feel that they are worth it! Even if the carton costs you $8, for two eggs you are only spending $1.33 for omega 3s, vitamin D, a good balance of fat, and so much more!
*Money Saving Tip: I know that for kids who are nutritionally starved, eggs can be an incredible resource of nutrients. But I also know that these kids can eat up to 18 eggs a day making only sourcing pastured eggs nearly impossible. So, if you have kiddos who are wanting to consume mass quantity of eggs you can talk to local farms and see if they will give you a deal. You can also mix pastured eggs with other GMO-free feed eggs that are less expensive.
Dairy: Raw dairy (if tolerated) is chock full of nutrients that your littles need to grow healthy and strong. When fermented it is even more beneficial!! Dairy is a great source of protein, vitamins, and enzymes. Plus most kids love to eat yogurt or cheese. For kids that can not tolerate dairy ghee is a great option. The process used to make ghee removes the milk proteins making it lactose-free! Plus it is rich in A and D and has a high smoking point for cooking!
*Money Saving Tip: Buying organic yogurt at the store can be expensive and honestly most brands lack the probiotics they claim to have and instead are full of sugar. It is much less expensive and far more beneficial to make your own at home! If your child does not enjoy the tart taste of true yogurt simply stir in some honey or just fruit jam.
- Eat The Rainbow: Did you know that it is recommended that 4-8 year olds eat 1 1/2 cups of fruit and 4 1/2 cups of veggies a day?! I am guessing most of your kids are not getting that, especially the vegetables. I know there are times that mine aren’t! To help with this and to make sure we are getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals each day we strive to eat the rainbow. We try our hardest to get food from each color of the rainbow every day. We also try to make sure some are raw and some are cooked every day. From our daily fresh pressed juice to our evening after dinner snack, we make sure we are enjoying all sorts of organic vegetable and fruit goodness!
*Money Saving Tip: I know buying all organic produce can be a huge strain on the budget. Now, many of you have heard of the clean 15 and the dirty dozen but just in case you have not there is a great list that helps you to know which produce absorbs the most toxic pesticides and which don’t. The EWG has great resources on this! This can help you prioritize how you spend your money on produce.
- Fats & Ferments for the win: Good fats are crucial for children’s health and wellbeing! Ireiterateeitterate this enough. They need good fats for their brain and nervous system to develop! They also help with balancing their blood sugar, keeping them well, and helping them feel full and satisfied. Ferments are also an important component of a healthy diet. They are an inexpensive and ideal source for good probiotics. 85% of your child’s immune system exists within their gut. The beneficial bacteria found in well-made ferments will help to restore your child’s gut flora helping them to digest properly, have a strong immune system, and support brain health. In our home, I just make sure that there is a good fat source with almost every meal or snack and that we eat ferments at least a couple times a day (that includes fermented veggies and homemade yogurt or kefir).
*Money Saving Tip: Getting fat from a local rancher and rendering it yourself can make having things like tallow and lard on hand a lot less expensive. Also, big box stores have organic, raw coconut oil at a great price! Lastly, stock up on avocados when they are on sale and simply freeze them to have around all year long. For less expensive ferments make your own! It is SO easy and inexpensive!
- Feed The Sweet Tooth: Admit it, you are a little shocked right now. Did Ashley just say to feed kids sweets?! Let me explain… There is a logical reason why kids, when very little, crave sweets. Sugar=carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are necessary for growth. The problem begins when we start feeding our littles actual sugar which is as addictive as cocaine. So you need to feed the sweet tooth but in healthy ways. You need to give your kiddos carbs. Each kid is different in how much they need (just like adults) but you want to make sure that your kids are getting enough nutrient rich carbs and calories every day.
Ideas to help end the battle on food
- Choose a great Pediatrician. There are some incredible ones out there who will spend the time with you needed to make sure your kids are getting the foods and nutrients they need. Added bonus if they are like ours and provide resources for learning how to cook in new and healthy ways!
- Start them off right. The healthier they eat from the beginning and the healthier they see you eating will set them up for “eating well” success themselves.
- Have fun with food!
- Let them pick the fruits and vegetables they eat each day (set parameters like they have to be three different colors or you have to eat 2 cups of veggies a day).
- A couple nights a week let your children pick what you are having for dinner (give them a few recipes to choose from to make it easier).
- Have your kids help in the kitchen! Anything a kid helps to make they are far more prone to eat. Plus they can sample things like the herbs and spices you plan to use to see if they are tastes they enjoy or should be left out for now. I discovered that my Little Jedi has a deep love of cumin by doing this when he was a toddler. Who knew he would love the flavor so much he would try to lick the powder!
- Just one bite. If there is something we are having for dinner that my kids just don’t enjoy or have never had but are apprehensive of the rule is just one bite (or three depending on the food). Kids taste buds are ever changing so what they hate one year they may love the next. Just keep putting a wide variety of tastes, textures, and colors in front of them.
- Keep healthy snacks around so when you need something quick you don’t rely on junk.
- Batch cook to make this easier. More to come on this soon!
I hope this post has given you some great ideas on how to provide your kiddos with nutrient dense foods without making it too complicated! Stay tuned because up next is a recipe round up full of ideas for meals and snacks!
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nurse, or any other form of medical professional. The content of this blog is simply my opinion and has not been evaluated by the FTC, FDA or any other government agency and this information is not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.” Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.