Tips for Raising Real Food Eaters

Tips for Raising Real Food Eaters - Rebs GarciaByline: Rebs Garcia

We want our kids to be healthy and eat real food but modern family life does not always make that easy. Life is busy and healthy foods are not always the foods your kids want to eat. As a mom of four kids ages 3-19, I understand it can be a challenge to raise kids who enjoy eating real food. Over the last few years we have transitioned to a mostly Real Food diet and learned some key lessons along the way. Today I am sharing my tips for raising real food eaters.

Empower and Involve your Kids

Kids love to have the power to make their own decisions, even when it comes to food. As a parent you can help make healthy choices easy by filling your fridge and pantry with real food. Have bins of quickly accessible healthy snacks in your pantry and fridge so that kids can help themselves throughout the day. Place a basket of whole fruit on the counter and keep cut up fruits and veggies at eye level in the fridge to encourage the whole family to eat more produce.

I have found that if kids help pick it, grow it or make it they are more likely to eat it. Since real food often requires a little more prep work involving your kids can be a win-win. Even small children can help with tasks like washing, pouring ingredients, stirring or pushing the buttons on the blender or food processor. My toddlers have loved to press the blender button to make our Green Smoothies. As a parent it can require a little extra patience (or clean up) to have your kids help but when you see how excited they are to eat their creation it is worth it!

Discover how Food Grows

Teaching your kids about where food comes from can help them get more excited and interested in trying real food. Planting a garden is a great way to help kids connect with real food. If you have a black thumb and live in the desert like me, you can do something simple like small pots of herbs in your kitchen. Shopping at farmers markets, visiting a community garden, joining a CSA or going to a pick it yourself farms are all options to help discover how food is created. Social media can be a great way to discover and follow family farms and introduce your family virtually to how animals are raised or plants grow. My kids love to look at posts from a small family farm in Texas that I discovered on Instagram.

Be a Positive Role Model

Ever noticed that your child will eat just about anything if it is on YOUR plate, instead of theirs? Kids watch what you eat and will follow your lead. Have a positive attitude about healthy eating and be willing to try new foods. Focus on the benefits of fueling and nourishing our bodies with healthy real food. Make choosing real foods a positive experience by focusing on increasing healthy food choices instead of talking about what they cannot or should not eat. Show them balance and moderation. Don’t let food become a power struggle or a source of guilt in your family, always put relationships first.

Make it Fun and Be Flexible

You also don’t need to spend hours creating food art to make it fun for kids. Simple tricks like using cookie cutters to cut fruit or serving salad on a stick instead in a bowl can make real food more fun for kids. My kids love making our own fruit or yogurt popsicle during the summer and you can find all sorts of fun molds. Talk about eating the rainbow and how foods can help them grow and have fun.

Along with fun it’s important to be flexible. Every child is different and it can take 8-10 times before a child is willing to try a new food so don’t get discouraged the first time your child says no to broccoli. Instead keep serving him the “green trees” and you might be surprised when he finally does like it. I have one son who loves smoothies, as long as they aren’t green. Our smoothies always have lots of greens, I just make sure to add enough berries to get the right color. Another son would much rather have fresh juice instead of a smoothie. Another child will not touch cooked peas but loves them frozen. I cook and serve one family meal, but try to have variety in our weekly meal plan to ensure different kids get options they like regularly while also being offered new foods options.

What are your tips and tricks for helping your kids choose real food? I’d love to hear.

Rebecca GarciaRebs Garcia is a Healthy Living Mentor and Weight Loss Coach. She helps you get off the diet roller-coaster and use simple Healthy Habits to create lasting lifestyle change. Rebs’ passion for helping others comes from her personal experience of losing 100 lbs and finally overcoming her lifelong battle with obesity. Rebs is a wife and mama of four kids living in sun-drenched Las Vegas.

Click here to get your free guide, “Eat More, Not Less: Simple Healthy Habits for Weight Loss” or connect with her on the Mission Healthy Life with Rebs Facebook page.

 

7 Tips for Eating Healthy On The Road (Or in the Air)

A lot of our conditioning around food comes from living a hyper-busy life. Think about it: if you had 12 hours per day with nothing to do, you might start making new types of food from scratch instead of reaching for fast food and instant meal solutions.

Fast food, planes, travel
Photo by Brian Wallace

One of the most busy times is during travel, when food is either an inconvenience or turns into a massive drain of energy.

If you plan on traveling this summer on vacation, for work, or to visit friends and family then this article is for you.

Here are my tried and true ways of staying healthy (and not getting sick!) while you’re traveling.

1. Drink lots of water

I’ve written at length about how much water you should drink every day, and how to drink more water. But drinking water becomes exponentially more important when you’re traveling.

That’s because we tend to be more rushed, to be thrown out of our routine, and to forget to hydrate. It also happens that you never know when you’re going to have access to a source of drinkable water, so always carry a reusable water bottle with you.

2. When in doubt, eat less

One thing I noticed when I travel is that people seem to eat more. Either because the plane / train is trying to sell lots of snacks, or because there’s nothing to do.

I’ve been there before: between a long flight, a never ending bus ride, or a 10 hour car ride… there’s not much to do unless you’re the one driving. So you dig into the snacks in an effort to stay awake or keep your energy up.

What does all of this increased snacking lead to? First, it causes major stomach traffic jams because you’re eating different foods in quick succession. It also leads to major bloating and constipation. It’s no wonder travel messes with our regular bowel movement schedules.

That’s why I recommend you keep your snacks and meals to within a few hours of each other. Bring a book or take a nap instead of entertaining yourself with food.

3. Research juice bars and restaurants

One thing I love about the internet is that you can research the restaurants and juice bars before you even set foot in a place. Make sure that the local listings are accurate, since restaurants and stores open and close without necessarily updating their sites.

I love “Happy Cow” for vegetarian and raw-friendly restaurant reviews. You can search by location and drill down from there.

If you end up at a restaurant that you didn’t research then check out my article on how to eat raw when you eat out.

4. Bring something you can eat on the go

One thing that is predictable about travel is the uncertainty. You never know when you’re going to get a chance to refuel (your car or your body) and that means preparation is key.

Although I recommend keeping snacking to a minimum, it’s better to have your own snacks on hand than to react to your hunger and eat something really unhealthy.

Here are some travel-friendly foods to pack:

  • Baby carrots
  • Sliced veggies: celery, cucumber, bell peppers
  • Dried nuts and seeds in a trail mix
  • Larabars
  • Dehydrated green smoothies
  • Fruit: apples, berries, citrus

5. Go to the grocery store

As soon as you arrive to your destination, make a trip to the grocery store. Most of the time you can grab a few staples, something green, and be on your way in less than 20 minutes.

It makes a huge difference when you have your go-to fruits and veggies for breakfast or snacks. If you can get your hands on a blender or juicer, then all the better. If not, don’t worry – you can always get back on the wagon when you get home.

6. Sleep and rest generously

This isn’t so much about food as it is about giving your body what it needs, but it does tie in to what you eat.

You see, if you don’t get enough sleep then you’re going to be reaching for something sugary or caffeinated to kickstart your body. That’s not the way to go, because it leads to a vicious cycle of sugar ups and downs and will definitely not leave you feeling refreshed.

So make sure you get some good shut eye while you’re traveling.

7. Focus on water rich foods

If you’re going to be veering off your usual way of eating, make sure you’re compensating with lots of water rich foods.

That means if you’re having something a little dehydrating like some wine or coffee, then follow it up with some fresh coconut milk or a green juice. (Both are great hangover cures too!)

Instead of having something salty like salted peanuts, reach for sliced munchable veggies.

Are you counting your miles?

Frequent Flyer?

Remember to stay grounded and take some time for yourself when you’re traveling. If you want to see someone who knows how to keep a regular schedule even when he travels, check out my friend Chris Guillebeau.

He’s on a mission to visit every country in the world, and he’s keeping to a vegetarian diet while doing it. He’s also got a great guide for anyone who wants to get lots of frequent flyer points without the flying.

Where are you off to?

Now I’m really curious about where everyone is going. Personally, I’m going to Miami, then Ottawa for the Healthy Living Festival, then back to Quebec to visit my family.

Family is a theme that runs throughout my travels this time, what about you… why are you traveling and where to?

Love, Nathalie

21 Ways to Sneak More Vegetables Into Your Diet

1. Drink Green Smoothies.

If you’ve been here before, you’ll know how much I love green smoothies. Blend 60% whole fruits, 40% green leafy veggies, add water, and you’ve got yourself the best tasting veggie dish ever.

Raw Zucchini Pasta
Fresh zucchini pasta!

2. Use vegetables instead of pasta noodles.

You can get a Spiral Slicer or a Mandolin Slicer at most cooking stores, but failing that just use a vegetable peeler to create fun noodle shapes out of veggies. Try zucchini, spaghetti squash, and eggplant. Top with your favorite pasta sauce.

3. Dehydrate some Kale Chips.

Instead of reaching for those starchy potato or corn chips, why not get your greens in? You can dehydrate your own kale chips with a dehydrator, or alternatively use your oven on the lowest setting. You’ll find the kale chip recipe here.

4. Guzzle some Green Juices.

Green vegetable juice is on equal footing with green smoothies. (Read the juicing vs. blending post.) You’ve got all of those nutritious green minerals and vitamins, and they’re going straight into you without the fiber.

5. Puree vegetables into soup.

You can either use a blender or a juicer to make fresh, yummy veggie soups. Try a mix of carrot and cucumber and add your favorite spices, or give it a little kick with some fresh ginger.

6. Try new vegetables and find creative ways to eat them.

See what’s available in your area and surprise your senses with exciting new vegetables. Why not chop broccoli up into salads? Shred some turnips, or use Bok-Choy as a dipping veggie.

7. Shred carrots, cabbage, and other “tough” veggies into an easy slaw.

With a food processor or by hand, shred those tough “winter veggies” into an easy to enjoy slaw. You can top it with your favorite salad dressings or invent your own. Plus it’s so easy to grab some in a container when you’re on the go.

Beautiful Swiss Chard
Photo by Tamara P.

8. Marinate vegetables.

Chop up some of your favorite vegetables and marinate them for a few hours to soften them up and give them that extra taste. I like a mix of olive oil, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. I’ve marinated mushrooms, broccoli, string beans, asparagus, and the list goes on.

9. Make your own pasta sauce, and add chopped or pured veggies.

If you usually buy pasta sauce, why not chop or puree your own fresh vegetables into it to make it that much healthier? Alternatively you can make fresh veggie pasta sauces with your blender.

10. Steam a sweet potato.

This isn’t raw, but then this isn’t about being 100% raw. If you’re craving that warm comforted feeling, reaching for a steamed sweet potato is a healthy non-processed starch way to go.

11. Add a green powder to your drinks.

If you’re on the go and fear not being able to get enough greens in, then green powders are the way to go. I recommend a blue-green algae like Spirulina, and there are tons of other great green powder products. Add them to your water, smoothies, or on top of salads.

12. Make an avocado chocolate pudding.

Check out Erin Huggins’ take on a raw chocolate avocado pudding, rocking the yum. It’s so easy to make and kids will love it!

13. Eat celery sticks and other veggies with almond butter and a drizzle of sweetener.

Turn ordinary vegetables into satisfying sweet, salty, crunchy snacks. Experiment with different nut butters, and your choices of sweetener like raw honey or stevia.

14. Cut up greens & other veggies and add to grain dishes.

It doesn’t matter if you eat cooked or raw quinoa, brown rice, or barley, you can still use this tip. Simply chop up fresh vegetables like spinach, cucumbers, and other veggies and put them into your grain dishes.

15. Drink Raw Gatorade.

Instead of reaching for a sugary drink after a work out, why not embrace the fruit and veggie duo in Raw Gatorade? To make raw gatorade blend water, bananas, and celery.

16. That’s a wrap.

You can make tons of great vegetable rich entrees with wraps. Simply wrap veggies up in a leaf or a gluten free tortilla, and add your favorite sauces or spices. Even the wrap itself can be a vegetable, like a collard leaf, a cabbage leaf, or even a lettuce leaf. Yum!

How to Sneak Vegetables
Photo by Darwin Bell

17. Make veggies available at all meals, and not just as a side dish.

Yes, that means breakfast too! The key to eating more vegetables is to treat them as a central theme to all meals.

18. Make a vegetable sandwich with anything that won’t fall out.

When eating out ask for a vegetable sandwich instead of the extra heavy meaty variety. With a veggie sandwich you could end up with a lovely looking salad, between 2 slices of bread. You can make raw bread in a dehydrator, so don’t discount this option if you’re all raw!

19. Make your own veggie salad dressings & dips.

When you blend your own salad dressings, you can sneak more veggies into the dressing itself too! Try blending avocado, cucumber, as well as sea vegetables and add some spices. Yum.

20. Have sliced veggies on hand at all times, and get yourself a good dip for snacking.

We’re a lot more likely to reach for the veggies instead of the chips if they’re already in snack form. When you get home from a shopping trip, wash and cut your snacking vegetables and store in the fridge for easy access. Then either make your own delicious veggie dips or have a healthy alternative on hand for when the snacking strikes!

21. Eat your salad before your main meal.

This ensures you get your veggies in before you get full. Plus a good salad before a meal will keep you from overeating the foods that aren’t as good for you.

Looking for more in depth Veggie Sneaking Tips?

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Love, Nathalie