Monday, April 1, 2013

The 1-2-3-4 of Getting Healthier (and our plan to baby step our boys there)

In the last post we announced that we planned to take baby steps to improve our boys' nutrition. Then, we sent them for a Dunkin' Donuts fueled week with their grandfather! They are back home now, we're recovering from the sugar shock of Easter, and we're now ready to baby step towards big changes here.

To help us take those next baby steps, we've been formulating a working definition (geek alert!) of what it means to eat healthier. In her book, The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin says, "to be happier, you have to think about feeling good, feeling bad, and feeling right, in an atmosphere of growth." After giving it ample (read: too much) thought, we think we could substitute "healthier" for "happier" and use Rubin's formula to guide us in enhancing our children's nutrition.

To eat healthier, think about feasting on the good, avoiding the bad, and consuming what's right, in an atmosphere of growth. 

This four-part definition is initially overwhelming, but breaking it down gives provides a fantastic map for us to baby step towards healthy eating.

(1) The good on which to feast includes fruits, veggies, probiotics, and so many more wonderful, nutritious ingredients.

(2) The bad to avoid includes processed and artificial foods.

(3) Consuming what's right means thinking about local foods, humanely raised animals, and the avoidance of harmful pesticides that destroy the environment.

(4) Lastly, growing our knowledge of health, wellness, food, nutrition, and cooking techniques will help us maintain our health and enhance our well-being.

There you go: our 1-2-3-4 part definition of eating healthier!

As we apply this definition to our children's nutrition, our aim is to progress towards a plant-based, unprocessed lifestyle by:

(1) ensuring that the boys feast on a good daily dose of fruits and vegetables,

(2) avoid bad ingredients and processed foods 80% of the time,

(3) consume what's right with local and small organic products,  and

(4) by growing the boys knowledge about healthy food and nutrition.

The grand effect is that we'll still indulge in occasional treats, but our daily lifestyle won't include many of the foods they currently eat and will include lots of fruits and vegetables. Our plan is to implement the dietary changes in phases:

  • Phase I: Operation Unprocessed Kiddos! We'll achieve part two of the definition of healthier (avoiding the bad) by cutting processed foods one meal at a time. 
  • Phase II: Operation Eat Your Fruits and Veggies! In this phase we'll be moving full force to get the kids to embrace, enjoy, and simply eat a plant-based diet by focusing on part one of the definition of healthier (feasting on the good). 
  • During both phases we'll be increasing our usage of local, small organic products and educating the boys about healthy food to accomplish parts three and four of the definition of healthier (eating what's right and growing our knowledge). 

In Phase I our first baby step will be tackling breakfast. No more frozen breakfasts, unless they were made at home and qualify as unprocessed. We'll also be attempting to turn their frowns upside down when it comes to eggs. Stay tuned for our initial results. We look forward to sharing our journey with you!

They love each other!
But can they love healthy food?
PS:  Send us your comments! What's worked for you in terms of getting your precious kiddos to munch on healthy food? What's been a total flop on this front? What are your favorite healthy kid breakfasts? Any tips and tricks are appreciated!

1 comment:

Janet said...

I just love this post because I have two boys as well, and have been down this path (actually it's a continuing journey!). My kids are almost 11 and 13 now and are both excellent eaters (heading into puberty helps for sure - its getting expensive around here!). But I think we did a few things well that helped get us to this point: 1) I made one meal for the entire family and never made substitutions. I live by the rule that you have to try a food 10-15 times before you can decide not to like it. Everyone is different, but my kids have definitely learned to like things because we had this rule. 2) Every spring we plant heirloom, organic seeds in seed pots in our living room to transplant outside once it's warm enough (late May where I live). The kids have loved watching their little seeds sprout and then, when the plant finally has veggies big enough to pick, they love picking and preparing the food they helped to grow. I think the ownership of that and having an understanding of where real food comes from really helps. 3) Have you heard of a book called "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld? I really dislike the name because I wanted my kids to know they were eating veggies, but during picky eating phases (which do come and go), I was not above making a cauliflower, sweet potato or broccoli puree and putting it into chilli, soup etc so that it got into their bellies somehow ;). I figured the important thing was that they ate it, not how. Eventually, they developed a taste for veggies anyway. Now, they are even less picky than I am about eating and both are quick to try something new. So I'm really glad we started working on this when they were young. You are doing the right thing!!
When people tell me I'm "lucky" my kids are good eaters I want to throat punch them (not really) because it definitely wasn't luck - it was the work of continuing to put many, many healthy meals in front of them that made the difference. And the cool thing I'm discovering as they get older is that they really do care about what they eat and why.
Sorry for the long comment. I just really liked this post :)

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