Transitioning to Healthier Eating with Kids

People often ask if my kids eat everything I make, especially the more unique recipes. And the answer is, for the most part, they do. I attribute this to the fact that the healthy food I eat is the food they’ve been offered their whole lives. This doesn’t always mean they are always dying to try my weirdest dishes but for the most part we don’t have much of a fight.

That being said, my girls do have different tastes and sometimes one just doesn’t love something that the other might and we do have to adjust according, but within reason. Just because someone doesn’t like the dinner I made doesn’t mean they get heir own made to order meal. They still eat what was made but they may be allotted more of what they prefer and less of what they don’t.

But what about kids who didn’t grow up with healthy eating and are resisting the transition? Well there isn’t a one size fits all answer. The age of child makes a big difference and their personal preferences and level of stubbornness to try new things all play a factor. For example, Tilly will succumb to eating a dinner she doesn’t particularly love if she has a sweet she wants to eat but can only have after she finishes dinner. On the other hand, Cecily will go without the Sweet and will refuse to finish her meal. I’m fine with both. My kid isn’t going to die because she didn’t eat her dinner and I don’t have to feel bad about her not getting a sweet, it was her choice. I also feel fine about offering a positive reward for my child who did decide to finish her meal.

I’ll address a harsher opinion first and then hop of my soap box and share some less intense ideas after.

Assuming your children aren’t old enough to walk out of the house and go buy their own food at the store, kids aren’t going to starve. And if you get rid of the crap in the house and only offer healthy food to your kids, they will eventually choose to eat over choosing to starve. The secret to success with this cold turkey switch? Your ability as a parent to ignore the whining long enough to let your children choose to eat the healthier options. It is a battle of wills and yours has to be stronger and more patient. I often times hear “oh my kid won’t eat anything healthy I make.” Really? I wonder…is that because after 20 minutes of them complaining you allowed them to get what they wanted out of the pantry? Or did you make them a second dinner? If so, that’s like telling your child they can’t drive the car but then handing them the keys after they complain long enough. I’m not saying your kids will choose to eat the healthy food today, or even tomorrow, but they likely won’t skip too many meals before deciding that food is better than I food.

As for handling spouses/partners or teenagers who refuse to eat what you offer?Thats a different battle entirely that I have no qualifications to address. I’ll jut pray for you. 😉 The more you and your partner can be on the same page regarding health and diet, the exponentially easier the switch will be for the entire family.

It’s no secret that the older your kids are the harder transition it becomes. Which speaks volumes to the importance of starting early!

Ok now that I’m off my soap box let’s hear some less intense options shall we? In my opinion, the easiest way to transition is slowly and consistently. Start regulating the sweets first. Start with only one Sweet a day. After that, replace snacks at home with healthy options. Instead of chips, fruit snacks (which are not a healthy option), and juice, try offering REAL FOOD like hand fruit, berries, vegetables nuts, raisins, string cheese, and water. Don’t try and force your kids to eat these foods but have them easily available throughout the day so that when I child (or you) is hungry they easier options are the healthier ones.

Next you can adjust meals. Make simple adjustments to breakfast. Add some healthy fats to breakfast like eggs and avocados or even breakfast meats in addition to their pancakes, then slowly limit the pancakes eaten or trade the Bisquick out for a healthy pancake recipe like I’ve shared in other posts. Breakfast may be the hardest switch if you are just giving your kids cold cereal. In which case, stop immediately and she make the sacrifice to fuel your child’s body with something other than sugar. (We’ll save the details on that soap box for another day.)

Lunchtime at my house involves a lot of finger foods. We snack a lot at my house and I find it easier to get my kids to snack on healthy foods like nuts, berries, cheeses, and veggies than it is to eat then to eat a chicken breast, sweet potato and salad with me. I’m sure you may feel the same. Sometimes I think moms feel emotionally gratified when their child eats, so we push them to eat a meal or make them something they will love, rather than allowing them to listen to their bodies and select healthy foods that will satisfy their cravings. I remover how I used to stress myself out SO much when my toddlers wouldn’t eat what I thought was “enough.” But neither of them died…shocker….they were listening to their bodies.

(Home made apple chips were a hit with the girls!)

Dinners are tricky too because you don’t want to make a cold turkey switch if you don’t have to. So for any adult or child I think it best to slowly substitute good food in place of bad food. More healthy for less healthy. Add some more protein and leave out some noodles, trade flour noodles for sweet potato noodles, spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. Switch white potatoes for yams, trade quinoa for rice, make broccoli instead of a iceberg lettuce salad, etc. make the transition slowly. Build on what you know your family already likes and run with it. Your family will probably notice the absence of unhealthy food less than they will the introduction of some new weird food. Slowly eliminate the bad for something good, then better, and eventually best.

I do believe that moderation in all things is key. Currently I’m trying to teach my daughters the appropriate amount of sweets to eat and allow them to embrace the cookies when they come. Often times all the girls want to eat is bread or crackers/pretzels. Pretzels and crackers are rarely in our house bare on occasion. Realizing that grains are beneficial to growing bodies I buy the healthiest wheat bread available and limit consumption. If the girls want bread it needs to be coupled with a protein or healthy fat and they get to choose their favorite one to with or along side the bread.

That’s what moderation looks like at our house. But moderation is a term flung around with varying degrees of meaning. Moderation doesn’t mean only 2 ice cream sandwiches a day instead of 3. That may be a good start to cutting back on your ice cream addiction but it isn’t moderation. Evaluate where you may be making justifications and do your research to learn how impactful food is and then stick to your guns. Your kids won’t starve.

I know I am only one woman with a limited scope of perspective. I realize that everyone has a different situation, different limitations and obstacles in the way of healthy eating. But I hope some of the things I’ve shared with you may help give you a boost of confidence in helping your family, and especially young children, transition into making healthier food choices. It can be done and it will indefinitely benefit heir lifelong health!

Please comment and share your secrets about what has worked for you and your kids. I’ve only touched the tip of the ice berg and would love to learn more from each of you!

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Baby Got Back

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Some of the highlights of my mommyhood so far have been the chances I’ve had to take my girls into nature with me. From the beginning I was determined to be the mamma who didn’t let my babies stop me from getting out and doing the things I love. I made a commitment to exercise throughout my pregnancies and was blessed with low risk pregnancies that allowed me to do just that. I know not all mammas have that chance. Once my babies were out I wanted to hit the ground running and pack them everywhere; and I did.

I always like to think of the book “Holes” when Elya was instructed by a fortune teller to carry his piglet up the hill to drink every day. At first it was no big deal to carry a small piglet up the hill but as the pig grew the boy grew stronger as well. By the time the pig was fully grown the boy was strong enough to carry the large pig up the hill to drink. So it has been with my babies, I carried the extra weight for 9 months and made sure to carry them once they came out and as they grew. This made it so easy to take them on my back wherever I go now.

One of my fondest memories is hiking with Tilly when she was tiny and singing the abc’s with her and teaching her the sign language for each letter as we walked. We stopped to listen to the birds, look at the dew on leaves, see the bugs, look for squirrels and deer, jump in the waterfall at our destination, and talk about how God had given us THE MOST beautiful world to enjoy. We did this as we hiked, snow shoed, cross country skied, and went on walks around town.

So the trend continued as Tilly got older and as we welcomed a second baby into our home. Once again I was determined to not let two babies stop me from being in nature and getting exercise when dad was out of town travelling. And just like Elya I began carrying both of them, one on my back and one inside for 9 months and then after she was born, on my front. Could my kids walk? Yeah probably but not for as far as I’d like to go and quite frankly I’m too impatient for wait for them when I’m trying to get a good workout in;) There are plenty of other times when they are free to walk and roam as they like at a leisurely pace.

So now whenever we are out exercising in nature there’s always a baby or toddler on my back. Baby got my back all the time and I love it. I love being blessed with a body to carry my children into this world and through this world. It has created a bond that I cherish and want to soak in and hold on to.

Tilly is starting to outgrow the pack and it is opening a new realm of opportunities for us to explore. Our most recent adventure was skiing together while dad was out of town. Cecily has been begging to go skiing and keeps insisting that she is big enough. So we took a leap of faith and packed her on my back and Tilly and I skied with my brother one night this week. It was amazing! The slopes weren’t packed so we were able to safely navigate the mountain with a baby on my back without worrying about other skiers colliding with us. It was another step into nature that I was able to take with both my girls and my heart sang.

I cant wait to see what the future will bring and what beautiful babes I’ll be blessed to pack around on my back next. Whoever made the stigma that women aren’t strong was clearly blind and I’ll happily prove them wrong with so many examples of women who went before me who taught me that I can do whatever the heck I put my mind to. Being a mother takes a level of strength that so many underestimate and misunderstand. I think motherhood is the most strengthening, challenging, trying experience that produces women full of battle wounds, wisdom, and deep, deep hearts of love.

Packing my babies around is something that makes me feel empowered and I hope you feel confident in doing whatever it is that makes you feel like a strong woman too; physically or otherwise. There is no denying that God put in you capabilities that no man can ever attain and you should be proud of that.

Thank you for letting me share my joys with you! It is probably far more beneficial for me to put my thoughts down than it is for you to read them. But if you are still reading, I want express my gratitude for you! I hope someone finds some sort of strength from hearing how I, and many other women, choose to live our lives.

Love, Katie

 

Gym Babies

I’m so full of gratitude today that I thought I’d share what was on my mind. As spring approaches Gary’s work schedule changes and he starts travelling a lot. We’re used to this schedule and it works out just fine for the most part. However, when he is gone I’m not able to go to the gym in the mornings. The girls aren’t quite big enough to watch themselves yet. Luckily I have some dumbbells & kettle bells I can use for home workouts when he is gone but lets be honest, its just not the same.

In the past my workout routine has dwindled in the spring and summer months and I just try to hit it hard when Gary is back in town. But this year my fantastic gym has changed locations and is under new ownership and the trainers are willing to let me bring my kids with me when I workout! The kids can play in the large turf field area while I do my workout or sit close by me.

Today began the first work trip of the season but instead of giving up hope of getting to the gym I was able to drop my 4 year old off at preschool and take my 2 year old to the gym with me…she is such a gem. She just follows me around like a little ducky and runs laps around the field with me too. I simply cant express the gratitude I have for the trainers at my gym who empathize with moms who need to get their workout in but just cant or aren’t interested in paying for daycare or hiring someone to watch their kids. Not having to stress about all that takes such a huge weight off my shoulders! Gloria Mayfield Banks always says to “Work with people who work with you.” My gym has definitely earned my dedication because of their willingness to work with me!

I notice a difference in my girls when they’ve been to the gym with me. They feel lucky to come with me and they definitely watch what I do and try to do it with me. Its so cute to see them try and lug the kettle bells around or do push ups and lunges around the house later on. I love that they are learning the importance of exercise at a young age and view it as something fun!

So today I am grateful to know that I have options this summer season! I am always happier when I get a good workout in and I’m so pleased to be able to stick with that routine. I hope you have people in your life who are willing to work with you to help you reach your goals and stick with your non-negotiables. If you don’t, start searching for those people because they are out there! Maybe its a mom who will workout on an alternating schedule with you while you watch each others kids, or maybe its someone who is willing to do a group workout at a nearby church or rec center while your kids play together, or maybe its just someone who will hold you accountable for getting on a walk or bike ride or a hike so you can get some movement in for the day. Whatever it is, you deserve to have a support system for the things that will make you the best you you can be and the best mom you can be.

Love, Katie

 

 

Why Mommy Goes to the Gym

Every morning at 5:40 am my alarm goes off. As I hurry to turn it off before it wakes my husband I begin the process of rationalizing my “need” to go back to sleep. “You are too tired today,” “Your sleep will make you feel so much better,” “You deserve to stay in bed another hour,” “You can do this tomorrow,” blah, blah, blah. The commitment to wake up an hour or two before my family is not the “fun” choice by any means. So why do I do it? Because Mommy needs to go to the gym.

Now lets stop right there. When I say I “need” to go to the gym it has nothing to do with my physical appearance. If you had asked me in college why I went to the gym my answer probably would have had something to do with my looks. But now, no way. When my 4-year-old is up early and asks me why I have to go to the gym the reason is clear, “So Mommy can be happy today.” And its true. The mental benefits I get from exercising 6 days a week far outrank the affect it has on the outward appearance of my body. Is the body boost a plus? Heck yeah, but it isn’t the priority anymore.

As a mom of one, two, or twelve kids you know that your life focus has shifted to be all about the little ones you are trying to keep alive and your own needs are an afterthought. But whatever your life circumstances, working mom, stay home mom, work at home mom, or maybe you aren’t even a mom yet, you NEED to have something for you. My something is the gym.

The research on the benefits of exercise on our physical and mental health is clear. Whatever your struggle, chances are regular exercise can help it. The type of exercise will obviously need to be personalized but what matters is that you MOVE your body. Nothing in the Universe happens, no progress is made, until something moves. Have you ever felt like you are Ron Burgundy stuck in a glass cage of emotion? I have, and I have a solution for you! Go DO something and move your body…and do it outside if at all possible.

The Mayo Clinic has published research about the benefits exercise has on mental health. 

“Exercise helps prevent and improve a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis. Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety.”

Other benefits of exercise on depression and anxiety include:

  • Releases feel-good endorphins

  • Takes your mind off worries

  • Helps you gain confidence

  • Allows you an opportunity for more social interaction (with non-children I might add..)

  • Helps you cope in a healthy way (I am an emotional eater…not a healthy coping strategy)

After my first daughter was born I experienced postpartum due to a sudden shift into mommyhood I didn’t quite feel ready for combined with hormone imbalance. Some of the very first things my hormone specialist suggested to me were to get outside, be in the sun, exercise, do yoga, meditate, and take a Vitamin D supplement. Since then I have found that I am my VERY BEST SELF when I incorporate that list of items into my life and stick to my commitment to exercise every morning getting those much needed endorphins. I just love them.

The picture above is of one of my favorite places, My gym. (ok it isn’t mine, I just go there). I have found a community, friendship, motivation, self confidence, and a love of waking up early to start my day off right. More to come on my favorite exercises and what I do to stay “in shape.”

If you are struggling to get out of your own head, experience anxiety or depression, are dealing with physical or emotional challenges, etc, I hope this might be another drop in your bucket to motivate you to move your body and find something active that you can do to take care of you and improve your mental health so you can be the best YOU you can be,

Love, Katie

Mommyhood

I am blessed to be the Mommy of two beautiful girls. They are what my world revolves around! Each of their stories is so different and each one has molded me into the woman I am today. I have played the roles of working mommy, stay home mommy, and work at home mommy. I am passionate about motherhood and feel strongly about the importance of educating and supporting mothers as we all fumble our way through the crazy journey of life with children. Every mother’s journey is different but what matters to me is that you are the best YOU you can be so you can be the best MOMMY you can be; whatever that looks like. Here I share what I’ve learned so far that may be of some inspiration, support, or guidance to those of you who are about to embark on or who have begun to pass through the refining fire of mommyhood. Love, Katie