Healthy Habits

When it comes to health and wellness good nutrition is key to a solid foundation. The benefits of healthy eating cannot be overstated: improved digestive health, brain development and function, a stronger immune system and overall improvement in mood and behavior. But if nutrition is so important, why is food is a common source of distress for so many families? Listen closely and you will overhear parents everywhere complaining that their kids are “picky” “overeaters” who “don’t eat enough vegetables” or “ only eat pizza”. Even with the best of intentions, it’s too easy for bad habits to form around food. 

The good news is that with some basic lifestyle changes it is possible to get your entire family eating well-balanced nutritious food and feeling good too. The key is to lay the right foundation as early as possible, develop healthy attitudes towards food and create a sustainable and practical eating plan. This site is dedicated to sharing tips, recipes and support to help families develop healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime. 

Take time for family meals

Our lives and schedules are so busy it can be difficult to find the time to sit down together as a family and share a meal. Breakfast is on the go. We rush through lunch. Dinner must be quick and easy before hustling little ones off to bed. Even as a FTM I often struggle to sit down for breakfast with the chaos of trying to clean up and get out the door. If you can, make eating together a priority.  Whether you can do it for 3 meals a day or just 1 special family meal, find the time. 

Eating together isn’t just about food, it’s about connection.

When we really stop and listen closely to our children during meal time we can learn a lot. Take note of your child’s reactions to food through a loving lens and tune in to their preferences. Their upsets and explosions say far more than they can articulate with words and are not always meaningless overreactions. We learned through trial and error that Joel does not like things that are too saucy so now sauce is always on the side for Joel. This allows him to control the dish within the confines of the meal. He’s given the tools, but he is the artist of his dining experience and can dip, mix and pour to his heart’s content. 

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Snacking problems

A major reason many kids play up at meal times is that they aren’t all-that hungry. Snacking is an epidemic. Visit almost any playground and you are bound to see hoards of children feasting on Cheddar Bunnies, Veggie Stix, Pouches and Puffs. Our supermarkets are stocked full of convenience foods that are disguised as “healthy options” which desensitize taste buds, sanitize texture and can lead to growth and language delays. Children who snack whenever they want learn that eating a meal is unnecessary because food will be handed out on-demand.

The way humans regulate circadian rhythms is through regular meals and sleep. It’s important to have a strict eating schedule and stick to it so that your child’s body clock knows when to expect food. That way you can trust when kids are genuinely hungry versus when they are just bored or trying their luck for a tasty treat.  (more…)

Remove stress from family meals

The first step to removing stress from mealtime is to understand why you are having challenges in the first place.

Face your food demons! What are your triggers? In order to really understand the issue you might need to do a little soul searching. Have you ever noticed that certain things your kids do make your blood boil, it can even change day to day depending on stress levels in the household. If you know your triggers it’s easier to control them and learn to stay calm. For many people reflecting on their own childhood experience can shed some light on what drives reactive behavior. If you were forced to sit at the table and finish all your food you might be more inclined to go the opposite extreme and offer your child tons of choices. When they refuse and are difficult it makes you think, “Do you have any idea how good you have it!” (more…)

Who is boss?

Why firm boundaries rule

“Toddlers explore by demonstrating resistance” Janet Lansbury

In our desperation to get kids to eat we can sometimes give them too much control over their diet. There’s no question that empowering toddlers and young children by giving “choices” can be an instrumental parenting tool.  Children are constantly being told what to do and what NOT to do, it’s no wonder kids often feel powerless. Providing simple choices can give them a sense of control while also teaching them decision making skills. However, when it comes to food too much freedom can actually feed problems, especially with kids who have a strong-willed, persistent temperament.  

Too much choice gives kids power over something where they actually need leadership. Ask a young child “What do you want for lunch?” and the response is likely to be something salty, processed or fried. French fries, chicken nuggets, pizza PLEASE! It’s difficult to not give in to these junk food demands when kids are clearly hungry and acting cranky. If you don’t want your kids to eat pizza and mac n cheese every day, the solution is simple – just don’t make it an option. Otherwise you are preparing their taste-buds for craving those sorts of foods ALL THE TIME.  (more…)

Food as medicine

When i was a kid I ate ALL the junk. Pop tarts, chips and soda. I was a bit of a runt so nobody worried about my weight gain. We also ate “normal” foods, chicken, veggies, fish. Lots of salami sandwiches and utz potato chips. From a young age I constantly struggled with tummy aches. In middle school my parents took me to the doctor. They said I was lactose intolerant and gave me lactaid pills. No improvement. In college I went back to the doctor hoping for some answers to help with chronic digestive issue. This time they diagnosed me with IBS and gave me some pills. No improvement. Every time I ate I felt bloated and uncomfortable. I vividly remember being worried about getting stomach aches so sometimes I just wouldn’t eat. Instead I fueled up on diet coke, coffee, candy and frozen yogurt to keep me going. Somehow these were foods my digestive system could handle. Healthy? Hell no.

Years later, in my early 20s when I met Mark and moved to London, we started cooking together and I finally started listening to my body. The term Paleo wasn’t a part of pop culture, but I somehow discovered that by eating clean, avoiding too much sugar and cutting out gluten my body felt better. Miraculous. (more…)

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