Day 29-Fun With Food

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If there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s food. I love baking, cooking, and eating. I also love planning GOOD food for my family. Good food doesn’t just happen, you have to think and plan ahead, and commit to spending time to eating healthily.

I want my children to enjoy cooking and eating.

I want food to be a pleasant and positive experience for them. 

After all, you kinda have to have it your whole life. Might as well make it good if you can, right? So here are a few things we have done to make food fun, interesting, and healthy for our kids.

We involve them in the process.

  • It starts even before you go shopping. Ask them what their favorite meals are. Plan them in on purpose.
  • When you go to the grocery store give young readers the list, or have them help find “Aisle #8”.
  • Compare prices. “This kind of peanut butter is $2.80, and this kind is $3.50. Which is cheaper?”
  • Teach them to compare healthiness of different items. “This cereal has 11 grams of sugar in a serving. We want less than 5. Oh, you think Uber Exciting Fruity Tye Dye Chunks looks yummy? How many grams of sugar does that kind have? 15?!  Is that more or less than 5? Oh well that has too much sugar in it!” 
  • When you pick out fresh fruits and veggies talk about how they grew (On a tree? Bush? Underground?), and what makes a “good” pick (A good tomato is nice and red, slightly soft, with no squishy spots or splits.).
  • When it’s check out time, give them items to put on the belt.
  • At home, have them help unload the groceries and put them away. This way they learn about sorting and where different foods belong. (Cheese in the fridge, apples on the counter, can of beans in the pantry!)
  • When it’s time to cook, give them little jobs. “H, I need a stick of butter.”  “S, give me a big spoon.” “Thanks! Here, put the spoon in this bowl. Would you like to stir?”  
  • Demonstrate how to fix different foods… like how to chop an onion or an avacado. Keep a commentary going! Tell them about why it has a particular kind of skin. “Onions are papery to keep it dry, avacados are thick to protect the soft insides.”
  • Let them lick the spoon. Seriously.
  • Have them help set the table. My girl’s favorite is when we need lots of condiments for burgers. They stack up the mayo, ketchup and mustard into a tower on the table sometimes. It’s hilarious.
  • Eat TOGETHER. We make it a point to sit down together, give thanks for God’s provision together, and have distractions set aside for that little bit of time as much as possible.
  • Clean up together. One child can grab all the spoons, another can put away the bread, and JE or I will put away leftovers into containers for lunches. Delegate out all the little jobs that take 20 trips into the kitchen. Children love to help if it’s fun.

This has been something we do step by step. It sounds like a lot all at once… and some days I JUST WANT TO COOK ALONE. And I do. And that’s ok. But I encourage you, try one or two of these and see how your child’s eyes light up. If the first couple of tries don’t work, you don’t feel like you’re getting through to them, or they are wary of “work”, try having them pick out a special fruit or veggie you’ve never tried before. When you get home, google how to prepare it, and dive in together. You’ll make memories, and maybe, just maybe end up with an end product that is a new favorite! We did this with artichoke recently. I had never cooked one, and they looked pretty weird. But it was letter “A” week and S really wanted to try one. So try one we did! It was a hilarious adventure, and the girls loved it. 🙂 And it wasn’t too complicated! She just asked me this AM if we could get one again sometime. She’s almost 4 and she’s asking for stuff like artichokes. I LOVE it!!

Just for fun, I asked the girls what their favorite foods are… their first responses were “Ice Cream!” so I figured I better get more specific. 😉

S Favorite Foods:
Vegetable: broccoli and tomatoes
Fruit: bananas
Meat: Fish. (She says she loves lamb too. We have it once a year for Passover and she remembers it. It’s special.)
Sweets: Strawberry Ice Cream
Healthy Food: Broccoli
Grossest Food: Eyes

H Favorite Foods:
Vegetable: Corn
Fruit: grapes
Meat: Fish (I bake tilapia once in a great while. She eats more than JE)
Sweets: Vanilla ice cream and cake
Healthy Food: Pizza
Grossest Food: Mouse

So there you have it. 😛

Day 19-Teaching Kids To Make Healthy Life Choices

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We have been “church hunting” recently. It’s an interesting process. One thing that has come up, is that some churches welcome your children and immediately start filling them with sugar, food dye, and more sugar. Now…. I have nothing against sweet stuff. It’s the excess, and the chemically super charged forms of sweet stuff I’m not all thrilled about. Add into that the fact that my daughter struggles health wise if she has had too much sugar, and we have an interesting situation getting bigger by the minute. I can not dictate to every church we visit what they can or can not serve for snacks in their children’s department. I CAN tell them what to not give my child. But then…. I could take the approach from a more grassroots level.

I can begin to teach my child how to make wise and balanced choices instead of just taking what is being fed to her.

H is almost 6. Still quite young for making a social stand or having a ton of willpower, but not too young to begin learning. And since that is what life is all about for her right now, this “Beginning to Learn” adventure, I feel that this is prime time to start building into her in this area. And we all know that this doesn’t just apply to food. We live in a culture of excess. While having abundant blessings is a wonderful thing, we have to be wise stewards of said blessings… or they become a weighty curse instead.

So.

How does one go about teaching a 5 almost 6 year old self control and the art of tactfully making wise public choices??

Good question.

I don’t know.

As with much of parenting, you do your best with what you know at the time, all the while praying for wisdom and that you are actually doing some good. 😉 So far, we have talked with H, telling her that her teachers were offering her way too many sweets. We instructed her that….

  • She could have one thing per week (Set appropriate boundaries).
  • She could request a ticket instead (Their alternate reward system).
  • If the only rewards available were sweets, she could tell us afterwards and we would give her an alternate reward.

This week I sat in on her class. They are in the midst of switching formats, and so it wasn’t a “normal” class. They didn’t offer as many sweets as she has reported in the past- for example one week she had two doughnuts, a koolaid, 2 pieces of candy, and brought home two more large candies that she had “bought” with her tickets. All in a 1.5 hour class. This week she did have to say no to a piece of candy once, and I was proud of her. She didn’t cry or act dejected, just got a look on her face that said “Well, so much for that” and she went back to her seat. I’m praying we are approaching this properly. I want my children to love their bodies and to enjoy taking care of them… not feel like they are missing out on life because they are acting differently than those around them.

I want to raise strong daughters with sound minds and healthy decision making muscles.

Food and Caring for My Body

Today I discovered I’m eating about 1,000 less calories than I need. At least that’s what I ate today. It was a pretty accurate description of food lately though. Not proud of that. Also most of what I did eat today was bread and either junk food or processed food, so it’s not all that great nutrition wise. No wonder my body has been giving me signs it’s not being nourished properly. Here are a few tell tale signs:

Flat hair, brittle nails

Unable to lose weight

Foggy mind

Mild depression

Lack of appetite

Lethargy

Hormones out of whack

Skin is papery and blemishes easily

So today I started being accountable to a friend of mine who needs help eating more as well. I have struggled with this in the past. Lethargy and depression kept me from properly taking care of myself. It just wasn’t “worth” cooking for one person. Such a lie. Every person is important. I need to care well for myself.