So, lucky you all get two today...but sadly it is the last two of this series. It has been really quite fun for me to document this with you.
If you are thinking of starting a new diet plan for yourself or your children, or you are working through figuring out some food allergies (eczema) through journaling, may I suggest photos! Something I have personally found is that photos are easier to interpret than written food journals. Our brains process the pictures instantly, where reading entries can take time and the information may not process correctly. I find, in my practice, it is easier to look through someones photo food journal and I can quickly analyze it. I visualize it so much better than reading "salad, italian dressing, chicken soup." I don't know what you consider a portion size for those. It sounds good, but is it a kale salad, is it a creamy chicken soup, is it too much dressing, etc...? Visualizing helps us all work together efficiently to make more long lasting changes.
This same concept can be applied to our children. If you are worried they are not getting enough nutrition, or are starting down a path to change their eating habits, try photo journaling your progress. Sometimes seeing it a couple of days later or as a series is very helpful to deduct common habits, or flaws. This can help pinpoint common foods that may be the cause of inflammatory conditions in children. Anyone who has dealt with things like eczema knows that trial and error can be a long and arduous process. By taking photos, you can flip through and SEE the common thread, or at least see common foods that may be linked to outbreaks.
I am thinking of starting a Facebook page for those who are interested in chronicling their photo diet journaling, either for themselves, or their children. This would be a closed group where we can encourage each other, and give constructive criticism to help everyone develop a positive experience in changing their own and their family's eating habits. Anyone interested?
Yes, I know!! This was suppose to be up yesterday. Life won!
I am a believer in quality ingredients. I believe you can take a meal notorious for being unhealthy or not so healthy and make it better. I also believe that you can do the opposite, take a normally healthy meal and turn it into junk purely on the quality of ingredients chosen.
For example: M1's Sandwich
For me this is a great example of the two edged sword. One is nutritious the other not.
Peanut Butter made with hydrogenated oils, and added sugar
Ultra-filtered Pasteurized Honey
Sprouted Grain, whole grain bread
Natural Almond Butter (just ground almonds)
Raw, Unfiltered Local Honey
Sounds pretty much the same: bread, nut butter, honey. So, what's the big difference?
I know we've been talking a lot about food and nutrition for kids (and ourselves), but that is just one part of the health cycle. Exercise and establishing an active lifestyle is just as important.
An active lifestyle does not mean scheduled activity, or time at the gym per say. At a young age we can teach our children the joys of walking to places nearby, playing outside, and incorporating activities into their daily lifestyle choices.
In today's world, our children are bombarded with computers, shows, games and more, that creates a more sedentary lifestyle. By teaching our kids not only the importance, but the joy of being active, they are more likely to continue with healthy habits.
I have to vent one of my frustrations.
Today was M1's Valentine Party at school. We are THAT family, that doesn't give candy for holiday parties (Valentines, Halloween, etc…) at school. We gave Pencils! I am sure M1 will only let me get away with this for so long.
I have mentioned before that M1 is very sensitive to sugars. This afternoon, when I picked her up until she went to bed, she was wired! When I say wired, I mean cannot control body, running bonkers in the house. She even said to me that she couldn't hold still and she just needed to run! She ended up bonking and going straight to bed later, but man she was intense for the afternoon.
So, my frustration: Why do teachers and schools bombard kids with sugars at school? This seems like a bad idea from their perspective as well. M1 has a regular substitute teacher who gives out Smarties when kids get answers correct. M1 bragged one day that she had had 3 packages of Smarties that day, and the teacher said Smarties make you Smart…WHAT!?
By the time I had picked up M1 from school she had eating about 3/4 of her bag of candy + the treats for the party. GOO! They had so many treats today that M1 didn't eat her lunch…so her entire day consisted of a beef bar for first snack, berries, and cupcakes/candy after lunch. sigh! She was the one who asked for the Quesadilla too. I guess you can't win them all.
Today was a lesson in the art of compromise. I made a really nice lunch for M1 today, and before I could tell her what I packed she asked for hot lunch. Sigh! Once I told her, she wanted to know what the school menu for lunch was today so she could decide. Okay, fair. Chili and Cinnamon Rolls...decision made.
A part of me cringes at the though of this, but I know that I must learn the art of compromise. I do very well with her lunches the majority of the time. I make healthy lunches based on her tastes and my ideals. So one hot lunch meal over 6 weeks is not going to wreck her health.
Hot lunch is a lunchtime compromise. I, of course, am not a huge fan of school lunches. They are not really that healthy, and the taste and quality are poor. I try to plan M1's hot lunch splurges, and come eat lunch with her on these days. It makes me feel better to see what she picks and how much of it she eats. I'll be honest, she is typically very good at her choices, big salads...vinegar dressings...eats a couple of bites of the main hot lunch. She has her favorites though, and one of them is Chili and Cinnamon Roll day. (I was really hoping today would be Pork Burrito day or something she doesn't like). So, compromise.
As I've mentioned, the girls have a half day of school every Wednesday. This is actually really nice for us. We can take the afternoon to do kids activities that are normally to busy during the weekends, when everyone is out of school...like the Discovery Museum, or Denver Zoo. Lately we have been back on a library kick. I have a favorite kids section there as well. It's learning through food.
This section is in the kids section and is geared towards teaching kids about other cultures, historical events, and other educational topics through cooking and food. Last year M1's class was talking about the civil war and Abraham Lincoln. We picked up a couple of books in this section that talked about the two sides of the Civil War. 1) Civil War Cooking - The Union 2) Civil War Cooking - The Confederacy. There is a whole series by this same publisher about Lewis and Clark and the American Indians.
I have found over the years that there are some seriously strong opinions on Chili. How to make it? How to eat it? Meat, no meat? Beans, no beans? Veggies, no veggies? The opinions are endless.
Like many of the meals I make, I rarely make then the same every time. I use what is on hand and vary it. We had a last minute Super Bowl get together yesterday afternoon. I was already making chili for our little family, and was able to quickly make it larger...this one is very beany to make up for the extra people. Actually, it turned out to be one of my better chili's. Want to know a little secret...shhhh...I add dark chocolate to my chili, and oh man does it change the flavor. More mole like.
I have mentioned a couple of times that I dislike waste. I really try hard to eat and reuse leftovers as much as I can. Leftovers make great easy prep lunches, but it can get boring eating for lunch the EXACT same thing you ate for dinner. To get out of the rut and make it exciting a second or third time over, try re-purposing your leftovers. Transform them into something different. It has become a bit of game for me…like the TV show Chopped…this what you have, and go! I think as a savvy shopper and someone who hates throwing out perfectly good food, being able to re-purpose leftovers is a skill that should be learned. It definitely takes trial and error, and some of my creations are flops.
This morning was a bit rough. I slept through my alarm, not normal for me, and was rushed trying to get M1's lunch put together. Not going to lie, letting her get a hot lunch today was almost what I went with. I did sit in front of the fridge scratching my head for bit, we had very little leftovers to work with, and I did a poor job of prep ahead options.
I normally do not do a lot of sandwiches. M1 is not a big bread eater, and when I do make them, she is very likely to eat the meat and veggies out of it and leave the bread...even the good stuff. But, a sandwich is what she is getting today. I had some Diesel Brand Deli Turkey, which I get more for hubby, so that's what we went with. M1 loves her veggies, so I loaded it with lettuce, avocado, basil, and cucumber.
For those of you local, you'll know that we had an awesome snow storm this week and our kiddos didn't have school yesterday. Therefore, I skipped yesterday's Lunchbox post, because we had no lunchbox.
I hope all you local followers were able to get out and enjoy the beautiful snow. The girls and I had a great time attempting to sled in the backyard (it was way to thick). Our old dog got stuck in a deep section of the yard and we spent the morning digging a system of paths through the yard for her. It ended up become of system of paths and open spots that the girls decided were houses. Hours of fun!
Let's talk additives. So many of the foods we buy have added chemicals to keep them fresher longer, preserve them, add color, and change the flavor. Some are not really bad (Ascorbic Acid), but other are linked with cancer, ADD/ADHD, sensitivities, and more. Lets take a look today at those that are specifically associated with behavioral problems in children.