5/28/13

Helping Your Children Think (and eat) Outside the Box


If there is a box around, most likely this kid will be in it. How many of us are stuck in a box (quite literally) when it comes to food choices for our families?

One of my most popular posts is Food Rules for the Creationist wherein I share the foods that we try to avoid bringing into our kitchen. Ones that are so far removed from their original form that they can hardly be classified as food. We do not follow the rules to a tee. Laziness or business often take over and we resort to hot dogs (gasp) Doritos and soda. The goal is to make these items the exception rather than the rule.

Truth: Real food does not live in a box! Many things that are edible reside in cardboard packages. Most of it is the stuff my children have grown up eating for lunch. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, Trix (they are for kids after all),  Goldfish ("the healthy snack for toddlers"), Pop Tarts, Pringles, Ramen, etc. You know, the standard American diet. It is woefully lacking in naturally occurring minerals and vitamins. Feeling the absolute duty to dump these frankenfoods from my kitchen, I opened the cupboards and tossed them. It has been over a year since cream of chicken soup went into any casserole. And they taste sooo much better.

Some things, however are just not the same. In my kitchen episodes of Extreme Makeover, not all of my attempts have been met with Amens! Some have been met with tears. Others with groans. And some with self inflicted fasting. But my lamp is full of perseverance and stubborninity or something like that.

The turning point: I started packing lunches with homemade bread. Also inside was real fruit, sometimes dried, sometimes fresh. They contained home made yogurt and organic corn popped in coconut oil, tossed with real butter. Homemade granola balls (see the no bake version at bottom of the post), and fresh baked cookies. Sometimes, I send leftovers of macaroni and cheese or soup. The funniest thing started to happen as a result of sending my kids to school with all home made food. And that thing is called peer pressure. Friends started to notice the food the kids brought. My kids felt poor and picked on at their lack of a Lunchable and were more than happy to trade their food for the packaged stuff offered by their peers. One son loved to come home and brag,

"Johnny loved your home made fruit strips mom!" 

In fact, he started commenting more and more each day about who loved my food. Suddenly mom is one talented lady who is making her kid super popular at school. I sometimes sent a little extra to really gain favor with the lunch crowd. I credit those wonderful fourth graders for my success in transitioning my kids to real food. They don't share anymore!

Truth: A little education goes a long way. I sat the kids down and gave them a lesson on the dangers of artificial colors. I asked them to note little brother and how crazy pants he gets when he has food containing bright colors. We talked about how we are not cutting every candy out of our diet but please avoid those with bright colors. You know the ones we love to give our kids like M&Ms and Skittles. So, one of them had a dollar burning a hole in his pocket and he went to the candy booth at the races. He was so proud when he came to show me his find. Look mom, he said as he presented a box of Skittles, they make them in dark instead of bright! Oh I could kiss that kid for listening so well. But time for another learning opportunity.

Educate yourself on what foods are best for your family. Educate your spouse. Educate your children. These are the most important keys to transitioning your family to a diet in real food. I am not saying it is a piece of cake. Some days it is not even worth the battle. But I have found how consistency pays off. My daughter self regulates her own sugar intake. I never have to remind her to eat just one. She reminds me, actually. My son refuses to eat out because he recognizes that the food makes him feel differently. Educate your kids! They are much more likely to make good choices themselves when they understand why we are making the choices in the first place. This week, I will share some recipes that have worked well for us. Maybe they will help you and your children to climb out of the box and towards real food and real nutrition.

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11 comments:

  1. Yum! We do a bit of both, but eat mostly "clean" here as well. Our motto is if we can't pronounce all of the ingredients it needs to be eaten sparingly! Stopping by today from Pour Your Heart Out!

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  2. That is a pretty safe motto! Thanks for stopping by.

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  3. Absolutely! Real food does not come in a box. We try to keep the food we eat as real as possible as well as educate our kids as to where their food comes from. I totally agree that it's so important to share this with our children from an early age so that they are empowered to make good food choices.

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  4. LOVE this post! I just saw on Facebook yesterday on a non-GMO page a picture that says "If it has commercial for it, don't eat it!" And "If it comes from a plant, don't eat it."

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    1. I love that quote, thanks for sharing!

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  5. This is a habit that sadly, our family has slowly gotten out of. This is a good reminder to me to get back into our healthier eating habits. With summer approaching and our schedules slowing down soon (and our garden growing), it will be a good time to get back to this!

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    1. We don't do it 365 days a year for sure. But it is a lot easier when I am in the habit of doing it. Good luck to you!

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  6. So glad your kids are enjoying your cooking vs the boxed stuff! Thanks so much for sharing it on Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, I’ve pinned it :)

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  7. Great post! Yes, educating your children is so important. We've been cleaning up our eating for quite a while now. My kids, even my 4 year old, is becoming more and more aware of what is in food. My 8 year old is very wary of any food that is prepackaged. He even read the label on the box of some food at my mom's and told her he couldn't eat it!

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  8. Great post! Thank you so much for sharing at the HomeAcre Hop! We look forward to having you back again tomorrow: http://blackfoxhomestead.com/the-homeacre-hop/

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  9. Real food eaters here! Thankfully my little ones are too young to protest!

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