What's the simplest way to transition the family to eating clean?
My kids and I have some skin auto-immune conditions and I really want to try eating clean as our new Year's resolution. I can use all the help with ideas for transitioning the kids with kids-loved ideas, with best places to buy grass-fed organic beef and chicken in the Raleigh area, etc. Should we go "cold turkey" or try one or two changes/replacements at a time. I welcome all the tips you can provide from personal experience.
Cold turkey rarely works!
Have an alternative healthier snack available
It's a tough job but stick to your guns...you'll be happy you did in the long run!
not having children myself, I can hardly called an authority on the subject; but I listen to my friends who are wrestling with similar issues. You do not mention how old your children are and thus open to more mature reasoning.
It appears that a blender can do wonders to sneak the healthy stuff into a smoothie without being detected. Cold turkey may be the optimal way to go but it rarely even works for adults.
I live in Raleigh and have joined a CSA to get vegetables in season. I have chosen www.wildonionfarms.com but there are probably others that may be more convenient to you. While I do not eat meat myself, I have seen meat of your requirements at the State Farmers Market. This is not very convenient to you but you can freeze it easily and do not have to make the trip all that often. I always enjoy being able to talk to the farmers, and some of them even offer trips to their farms so that you can see their operation for yourself and how the animals are being kept.
Wishing you a happy New Year!
Probably making small changes would be best, especially with children. If they are younger, it will be a little easier to make those changes. Along with making small changes such those mentioned by others (eliminating preservatives, food coloring, trans fat, etc...), I would definitely involve the children in some shopping (selection and label reading) and preparation of food. You are their best example!
We did a CSA this past summer and my children (8 and 10) enjoyed eating things fresh from the farms, and looked forward to getting our share each week to see what was in it. I try to teach my children about the value of whole foods--and how they are "fuel" for the body. If you put better fuel in your body, it will work better for you! I feel it's important to serve vegetables and other foods straight up--not hidden :)--so kids can learn about them. I ask my kids to at least try something new.
Keep educating them and introducing--and reintroducing--fresh foods over processed foods.
Sometimes even little changes in presentation can make things more appealing to eat:
--Serve cut up fruit on a skewer. My kids love these for snacks, and I've made trays of them for their holiday parties and have never brought home any leftovers.
--Or, layer fruit and yogurt for a yogurt parfait.
--Fresh smoothies go a long way. Fruit smoothies with greens or peanut butter/banana smoothies make great snacks or breakfasts.
--Take a small plastic see through cup and put a little dressing in the bottom. Cut up some veggies (carrots, all colors of peppers, cucumbers, snow peas, etc...) and stand them up in it. Makes a great snack or side dish. Great for little fingers.
--Teach your children about fresh herbs and spices. Easy to flavor foods with these naturally, and you will be amazed how good meals can be!
Hope some of these ideas help. I would also check out Pinterest for healthy and visually appealing ideas.
Some children love to do for themselves, or to make choices and take on responsibilities. Older children sometimes do well by being invited into the kitchen to plan and prepare meals or snacks. I can remember when my older son was very young giving him a plate and asking him to make his own snack from the cabinets. He chose 3 cookies. I then was able to suggest he keep one cookie and choose 2 other items that would represent a fruit or vegetable and a protein. It was a simple lesson, but one that let him build some sense of empowerment, so he was beginning to own his own choices. If you let an older child research and plan a meal, with guidance of course, it will allow you to talk about ingredients, and serving sizes, and health“.. and they are more likely to eat it if they have made it.
Shopping with kids can be work, but reading labels is a very simple method of making positive changes. I was in the store with my 14 year old yesterday and he picked up a box of cereal and we were able to discuss how the word 'natural' has no defined meaning on labels, and so to talk about truth and cosmetics in advertising. He decided the best rule is not to buy anything where he cannot read an ingredient. Some people say don't buy stuff with more than a certain number of ingredients.
You can try cutting out specific things one by one. Being married to a brain scientist the first things we dropped were things where he felt the science was pretty clear about the disastrous effects on health: heavy food coloring, and trans fats, and artificial sweeteners were in the first wave.
You can also try having one meal a week meatless, or a 'try a new dish' meal. You could do a once a week 'country of the week' to introduce healthy options which your kids might find interesting from other cultures.
If you have room you can plant a veg. or herb garden and avoid non organic pesticides“. the difference in flavor will amaze the whole family. In the summer go picking at local (preferably organic) farms, go to farmer's markets, get a CSA share, and / or find a neighbor who has chickens. I have a friend who brings me eggs from hers occasionally and they are unbelievable.
I've also found that inviting your children to participate in the process helps:
- everyone picks a healthy recipe to try that week
- or a new food
- visiting local farmers markets
- discussing food in terms of good choice, better choices, rather than bad foods.
You're trying to create life long habits rather than quick fixes, so slow and steady wins.
If you like to cook, here is a great recipe option:
They have very clean recipes based on organic food choices and they are very easy to follow. Both my wife and I have been using their recipes for the past 3 years and I have nothing but positive things to say about them. Feel free to check them out.