My kids are not me. They are not vegans. They are even not plant based eaters. They'll happily eat Ronzoni pasta, pizza store pizza and Carvel ice cream for dayssss.
And I’m ok with that. Considering I changed my entire life in my late 20s, I feel they should be given the choice to do the same.
HOWEVER, I work VERY VERY hard on raising kids that are what I call "Health Aware" - which means they understand the connection between food and wellness. I repeat the same concept to them over and over again - ‘good food will make you feel good.’ I taught this to both my children at a very young age and once they internalized this core concept, many great things stemmed from it: 1. A willingness to try new things 2. A willingness to eat something they don't like because it is healthy 3. The knowledge that they alone are in control of their own health (because I believe what we eat and do every day is much more significant than our genes).
In the past year, my kids have become my (unintentionally!) best marketing tools. They try new foods, eat balanced meals, and politely decline certain Red Dye 40 candies (most of the time). People always come up to me and ask how I did this, so I want my blog to really help guide parents at home getting their children on a path to health!
The most important tip to beginning to get your kids to working on their health is to commit JUST ONE health idea that you believe in. Don't throw out all their snacks to “start fresh”- kids don't like cold turkey changes! Personally, the first thing I committed to was eliminating artificial flavors and dyes in my kid’s diet. With many kids struggling with hyperactivity, childhood cancers becoming the number one killer of children under 15 and the knowledge that almost all industrialized countries (besides the US) completely ban these additives, I felt that this was a no- brainer first step.
After I committed to this one idea, what changed around the house? Not much - I bought chocolate sprinkles instead of rainbow. I made sure to review the labels of my kids snacks and replaced any snacks with food dyes for snacks without. Most importantly, I repeatedly had a conversation with my kids about the effects of these additives. I showed them that when they had these foods they did not feel their best -wild, cranky and agitated... I explained to them that big companies (AKA BIG FOOD) try to do many tricky things in order to get kids to ask their moms to buy it- prizes in a cereal box, super bright colored candy or putting famous characters on their packaging. These big companies will do anything, including making kids sick, in order to make a lot of money. At the time, my 3 and 5 year old began to learn that marketers and commercials could not be trusted. Since the changes were small enough and they were given extra information to understand why some changes were being made, they didn't rebel against me.
My advice to you is start small and build. Over time, there are so many health- related ideas you can work on- limiting pesticides and genetically modified foods, adding in plant foods, introducing stress management tools like yoga or meditation - the skies the limit for our kids! But for now, work on JUST ONE THING.
Expect way more kid's health posts in the future- snack lists, school lunch ideas, wellness ideas and more! If you feel your family needs more 1- on- 1 attention, contact me for info on my personalized family wellness coaching services!