Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Raising Baby Healthy: Teach them right from the first bite

This is what our seventeen month old gets for her 'kid's meal'... And she LOVES every last bite. 

I've touched on this before in my post here, but I just want to delve a little deeper, and I am writing this in full acceptance and understanding that I am undoubtedly going to rile some parents up. Though this is not meant to offend, it is to educate and encourage healthier kids, and I don't think anyone can argue that! 

We as parents, are given the opportunity to mold our children's eating habits from the start. Why we all aren't taking advantage of that, I just don't understand. Just as we teach our children to be polite and kind, or how to read, or to ride a bike; we should also teach them to how to live healthily. I think it starts with doing so ourselves. My eating habits are not perfect, but they're certainly on point about 95% of the time, and my daughter sees that. She is raised in a home where the fridge is plentiful of fruits and vegetables, where her protein doesn't come in dinosaur shapes in a frozen meal, but from a sea of fresh fish or lean red meats and poultry, where she watches both of her parents cook often, with real  ingredients, and when we go out to eat, we still choose healthy options. You may say she's not even two, she doesn't understand yet. I think that she does, and if you wait until they have the cognitive ability to grasp all of it, you're probably too late, as they've most likely already been exposed and accustomed to the junk. We started on day one, but it's never too late to change your lifestyle and your kid's for the better. 
Brooklynn eats all of the things that we do and enjoys them just as much. She loves everything, with the random exception of mango, though she likes the peel, and grapefruit. Excluding those two things, she eats every fruit and vegetable there is, as well as healthy grains, nuts and seeds, and lean or omega-fatty proteins. I mean honestly, the kids eats octopus tentacles. She has no barriers when it comes to healthy and delicious foods, and we couldn't be more proud! 

To this day we've successfully avoided all of the following detrimental 'foods':

It's a monster. It's sad to hear so many parents yelling "No more sweets, you're too hyper!", when it can be avoided and replaced with naturally sweet treats. If I had to use one word: fruit. It's incredibly sweet, and there's a zillion ways to incorporate it in meals and desserts to satisfy those bitty sweet tooths (without sending you to the dentist either). We have used agave nectar, fruit sugar, and a honey as much better alternatives than the despicable white granulated substance. 

Fried & Greasy:
She loves chicken, turkey, salmon, trout, sea bass, lobster, octopus, scallops, crab, tilapia, pork, lamb, and beef... All of which she enjoys grilled, seared, and baked without breading and without horrible greasy oils. Do you see the plethora of proteins your child can enjoy, without being fried? Potatoes? Loves them baked or mashed, they don't need to be fries or filled with butter. She's never had a chip, I literally cringe at toddlers and their Cheetos or what have you. There are way better alternatives for chips; they make plenty of dried veggie chips or crackers made of flax, quinoa, and other nuts and seeds. All of them are delicious, but you can rest easy knowing your child isn't consuming the dump in Doritos. 

White Wheat Flour:
Let me preface this by saying, she doesn't have any wheat or gluten allergies, nor do I find whole  grain wheat to be a problem. The issue is that so many of these products fed to kids or awful bleached (does the word BLEACHED not scare you?) white flour that is stripped of the actual nutrients that come from the original whole grain. Breads, pasta, pastries, crackers, etc... All full of this bleached crap. There are splendid substitutes; quinoa, whole grain wheat, barley, rye, brown rice, seed and nut based breads, pasta, and the like. 

Processed Junk & Chemicals:
So if I were to quiz the lot of you on half the ingredients in the foods you're giving your kids, how many of you would be able to separate real ingredients from things that are labeled on your hairspray? I'm betting not many. If you're feeding them real and fresh foods, you don't need the dextrasucralotofcrapinthisextrose in it as well. If you don't know what it is, why would you give it to your kid? Do we allow them to eat a random substance found on the ground? No way! So why is it okay just because it's written scientifically on a label? It's not. While there are real things that go by longer or more complex names, most of those you can't pronounce are garbage. Do you know there are over thirty names that sugar can go by? Let alone things that are even worse. We've definitely kept Brooklynn from unidentifiable processed junk. 

It's no wonder childhood obesity is at an all time high, that so many children suffer behavioral issues, and seem to always be sick with one thing or another. Think these things don't correlate? You're dead wrong. The things we put into our body affect how it functions in every way. It breaks my heart to see my Facebook newsfeed with moms posting about how sick their baby is yet again, but then I've also seen what their kids eat. I'm not saying everytime a kid gets sick, that's it's because of crappy food. However, I can say that Brooklynn has made it seventeen months without even so much as a sniffle, that wasn't related to teething. I can't stress enough how incredible true nutrients are; they build immune systems, fight sickness and even more serious disease, and build strong and durable bodies... Thus preventing you from those frequent doctor visits and sickly tots. I know that I do whatever I can to protect my child from getting ill or injured, and I would think you all would too. I'm not a doctor, but I can play connect the dots. While I do understand and am not belittling behavioral and emotional disorders, there is a link between some of these acts and what they eat. Hyper and out of control... How much sugar have they had? Extreme mood swings... Sugar levels dropping and spiking at an unhealthy rate. Difficulty concentrating and learning... Lack of nutrients that keep our brains running at 100%. Unable to keep up in gym class... Overweight and undernourished for physical activity. I reiterate, that all of these issues aren't caused by bad eating necessarily, but they can certainly be amplified by it. I also acknowledge there are tons of kids with these obstacles, that are in fact eating perfectly healthy. I'm simply saying don't underestimate the role that food plays in these things. 

Now before too many of you get upset with me, I know that there are many of you that feed your babes healthy for the majority, but do allow treats here and there. I'm not knocking you. I understand that not every parent is going to be as extremely strict as I am about it. That's fine. However, there are so many that just don't even bother and it is very apparent... And sad. 

Deprived is a word I've heard recently... I can't even take it seriously, when used in the context that some people have said it. Saying that I am depriving my kid of the good things in life? If candy and cheeseburgers are what you think bring true joy to a child... Well, I'm not even lowering to that conversation. Not being given the vast and incredible nutrients that real foods provide, that's deprivation. Give these kiddos the best so that they can be their best, both physically and mentally. I know that I can't shelter her forever, and that once she's in other children filled environments without my supervision that she will be exposed to these things. I know I can't keep her in a bubble. However, I can raise her with good habits from the start, so that she is more inclined to reach for the apple instead of the snickers. I also hope that I can reach other parents with this, the more like-minded on this topic, the less parents giving out junk. I will also continue to teach by example, by my hubby and I living a healthy lifestyle. 

I know kids see what others have and want it, I know kid's tv channels promote sugar for breakfast and fried for dinner every other commercial. I know as a mama on the go, you want convenience. I know that some kids are incredibly picky, and they may throw fits or beg. I just have to ask, is any of that truly worth getting in the way of giving your child what's best?

Do your research, shop for the right foods, check ingredients, prep things to have on the go, cook often, lead by example, and raise your children right. Don't we all want what's best for our kids? I know I certainly do. Join me in raising our babies healthy! 

ps. I will be trying to post more often on healthy recipes, specifically ones for the kiddos, that incorporate the things kids like, in a healthy alternative way.👍

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