Grains have gotten a bad wrap in recent years, but they have their place in our and our children's diets. The problem is that generations have not been taught the proper way to use grains. This knowledge has been lost to time, and technology. Kids need carbohydrates. This does not mean simple sugars, but complex carbohydrates that are nutrient rich.
In many of my other posts, I have addressed the importance of fats in the diet...especially when it comes to children. If you want to learn more about Kids and Fats, (Click Here for Article)
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) is a really cool chemical found in the fat of dairy...it has to be full fat, none of this lowfat, 2%, skim nonsense. If you make one change today for the health of your children, switch them to full fat dairy! For more on Full Fat Dairy, and why it is better, (Click Here for Article)
Macronutrients are the components of food that give us calories. They are all important to the mental and physical health of our children, but knowing how to balance them has become a lost art.
Because the point of this series is to give you information that will set your child up for success in school, with a hearty breakfast, I want to focus my nutritional topics to just this. If you would like more information on general child nutrition, please take a look at my Lunchbox Series.
We eat A LOT of eggs! In fact, we now have chickens, 13 to be exact, and we were so afraid we would be overrun with eggs. It is actually just the right amount for our family of 4 and our egg usage. Eggs are one of my foundation breakfast items...I typically eat one every morning.
Many of you grew up thinking that only the whites were good for you and that you should limit your yolk quantity (based on poorly performed research....long story). Please eat the yolks, that is where the nutrition is. An egg supplies almost everything you and your children need, nutritionally, except for the minerals found in the shell.
I have a passion for healthy eating, especially when it comes not only my children, but all children. It is us, as the parents, who will determine our children's eating habits. The habits that will teach our children and the foods we offer them should be a balance of foods that expose them to nutritionally dense options, set them up nutritionally to succeed, and offer an element of fun (because eating should be enjoyed)
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! It is the beginning meal that sets the foundation for the rest of the day. If the first meal of the day is nutritionally balances, the rest of the day can be a yo-yo of ups and downs that affect the overall health and performance of our children.
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.