Monday, August 20, 2012

Raising a Child on a Healthy Diet - How it is Possible

So it's been many months since I've even attempted at writing a blog, and last night I suddenly felt compelled to.  Courage is just about 11 months now, which blows my mind every time I think about it.  He is a growing, curious, joyful and precious gem in my heart and I love him more every day!  So here's a little of what I've been thinking about lately...

One of the practical things I love about my life right now is preparing healthy, balanced, organic meals for my son, and as a result, I have a much healthier diet than before I became a mom.  I want to be able to live a lifestyle that is a truly good example for my children, and one goal of mine is to feel comfortable giving Courage whatever I am eating, snacking on, or drinking.  I have quite a few things I need to cut out of my daily diet to achieve this goal, but this is my desire, and it motivates me to press on to a healthier lifestyle. 
Right now Courage is on a beautiful organic diet of mostly raw foods, which consist of balanced protein-carb-fat meals three times a day in addition to the homemade formula I make for him (4 – 6oz bottles per day).  (How to make homemade baby formula HERE).  Now that he is turning 1, I am looking forward to switching to just raw whole milk, or low pasteurized/non-homogenized whole milk.  I am grateful for the organic health food store here (Sydney’s Health Market) that always has a great selection of affordable organic produce and dairy products. 
Preston and I often talk about how we will raise our children to value nutritious food, rather than sugar, candy, and processed foods packed full of artificial ingredients and preservatives.  Like a lot of people in America, I was raised on that sort of unhealthy food, and have battled the different cravings, addictions and side-effects all my life.  I want my children to value their bodies enough to have distaste for fake, toxic/acidic, unhealthy food.  So much of the common food out there serves to cause chemical reactions in our bodies and minds, spike our blood sugar, and convert sugar into fat, leaving us obese, fatigued, and craving the same crappy food all over again – a destructive and perpetual cycle.  I never want my children to become caught in that web! 
I admit that I have been “ruled” by my appetite.  I’d rather “fast” entertainment than food, and I have fallen for that ice cream or bag of processed chips far too many times.  My desire is that my children will grow up never being a slave to food.  I feel as a mom I have this beautiful opportunity to teach my children to love that which their body truly loves – food that gives LIFE to their body!  With proper education, I believe they will learn to understand from a young age how to value the right foods, to love their body, and to be unaffected by society’s tempting tactics in disguise.  For my children will see with pure eyes that which is harmful and destructive, and that which brings life.
Some people probably think I am a bit overzealous and unrealistic about this issue.  But am I really?  Is it really impossible to break out of the mold of society that says all children will inevitably eat loads of sugar?  No, it is not impossible, and I believe I am completely realistic.  It is realistic to educate and empower our children to take responsibility for their bodies, and in turn their lives.  They have their whole lives in front of them.  It is reasonable to start off on the right foot, rather than to try to fix things later.
Some people might even think I am cruel for wanting to keep my children away from sugar, accusing me of “depriving” them of pleasant childhood experiences.  I think it is absurd to think I would be depriving my children of anything of value.  Obviously I won’t be keeping my children locked inside where they can be 'sheltered' from the outside world where sugar and soda and fast-food plague the streets.  That is unrealistic, and probably harmful in itself, (for it does not teach them to be empowered, entrusted, or responsible). 
But this does bring up a valid point – at what point will I let my children choose for themselves what to eat?  I want my children to be free, but not careless or reckless.  I am fully aware that if I were to always say, “No you can’t have this or that” without really explaining why, or if I neglect to emphasize the yummy healthy treats that they can choose from, they may feel like they are missing out on something special.  When I was young, I used to think that Lunchables and Doritos and Cheetos and Squeeze-it juices were something to be valued because my mom would never buy them.  So, they were like a forbidden treat that we never got to have.  Whenever I was at the grocery store with my mom and wanted those things, she would say something like “No that’s too expensive,” and therefore I learned that those kinds of foods were valuable. 
It is so important to teach our children from the beginning the real reason why we are choosing to not buy or feed them certain foods.  And it is just as important to speak highly and loudly about all the other healthy foods much more often than the “bad” ones.  If we are always saying “No, you can’t eat that,” and “that’s bad for you,” we are sending a negative message.  I always try to communicate to and around Courage by avoiding the negative words (such as “no,” “don’t,” “can’t,” “bad,” “not,” “stop,”) as much as possible because I know that negative words can speak much louder than positive words.  It is challenging, but you can get creative with it! 
For instance, instead of saying “Don’t touch that,” we say, “Stay away from that.”  Other common ‘positive’ sayings we say to Courage as an alternative to “No” are “Off-limits,” and “Hands-off.”  And as he grows in his understanding, we want to make sure we also explain why we want him to “stay away” from the toilet or the outlet, etc.  
But what about Halloween, you say?  Every child looks forward to Halloween.  Will I “deprive” my children from such a popular and memorable childhood tradition?  Has anyone every thought about why we do things the way we do?  Like, why do we send our children out every year from door to door to fill their pillowcases up with pounds of processed sweets?  Halloween can be more than just about candy.  There are so many other traditions to share, like carving pumpkins, baking, dressing up in fun costumes…to name a few.  And we can always create our own traditions.  As far as “trick-or-treating” goes, Preston and I have bounced around some pretty cool ideas on what our kids can do from door-to-door instead of taking candy…   
Anyway, my point is we do not have to succumb to the world’s standard on how to do things, just because everyone else does it.  We are powerful and creative and inventive.  And as parents, we have the best privilege to lead a generation, a life, a legacy, a child in a new and positive way…to live a lifestyle that is healthy and whole and brings LIFE.  It is not impossible.  It is empowering.


  1. This is great. I realized, too, very quickly that I didn't want harmful foods going into my kid's body, and that many processed foods are harmful to me, too! I've slowly adapted a more natural lifestyle. I'm not sure where we've gotten the idea that if withhold from ourselves or our children all the "riches" of our current society, that we're somehow depriving ourselves or depriving them.

  2. I believe God has designed us to love healthy food and hate harmful food. But mentally and physically we have learned the opposite. I want to restore that true perspective through my children.

  3. I think that this is wonderful and completely understand what your motivations and reasoning is behind feeding (and eating) from the endless healthy, natural options we are fortunate enough to have access to today. What would your advice be to someone like me that has older children (6&3) that have already developed a taste for the junk? My oldest is super picky and my youngest loves chocolate. I would love to transition to a diet centered on raw, organic choices, but I don't know how to start now that they're older. Any advice?

  4. Maybe start out by deciding not to have that kind of junk food in the house. That way the junk food is not an option for your boys when they are home. If you need to "ween" them off of those foods, and if they go grocery shopping with you, (and if they are begging you for their candy/junk food), tell them they can choose ONE piece for the whole week, or something like that. Then I guess search for fun different recipes for meals, snacks, treats, etc. If it's sweet stuff they love, then do lots of fruits for now as you "ween" them off of sugar.
    Smoothies are also a good idea because they taste and feel like a dessert. You can sneak veggies and probiotics and omega-3s in there, and with berries and bananas it tastes sweet and refreshing. You can give them a smoothie a day, and it will fill them up too.
    Also, try giving them other options to do rather than eat. Sometimes people just want to eat something because they either saw it on a commercial, saw someone eating it, or was reminded of it somehow and the craving kicked-in. But if you distract them with coloring, painting, playing a game, etc, then maybe they will learn to not value the snack so much.
    Remember to try to communicate the right values while you are trying to make this transition/adjustment. Explain why it's better to not "need" that kind of food, and help them know they are not missing out or being deprived of something. It's definitely challenging, especially if that false mindset is already sort of instilled in them. It won't happen over night, so just be encouraged and take it a step at a time, at the pace you feel comfortable and confident.