I met Lydia of Divine Health from the Inside Out last year at the Wise Traditions Conference in nearby King of Prussia, PA. We made fast friends and have kept in touch ever since. Since I’m going away this weekend and have been pretty much swamped with work-related projects, she agreed to write a guest post about her experience getting her boys to eat a nutritious diet, and basically to offer encouragement to all you moms out there reading my blog who are striving to give your kids the best chance at a life of health and wellness. After all, that’s what we all want for our kids, right? I trust you will make her feel welcome! Then be sure to check out her blog for lots of nutritious (and gluten free!) recipes that your family will love. So. Without further ado.
Meet Lydia, author of Divine Health from the Inside Out
Motherhood is a challenging feat alone. Add to that being a single mother of four boys, and you’ve got yourself quite an undertaking. That, however, is my life!
Day in and day out, I am going it alone to raise my boys as best I know how. One of my biggest feats is nurturing them in body and soul. Kids need lots of love in many forms, not to mention some good boundaries and structure set in place. It took me quite some time to create that for my kids (and of course it’s an ongoing affair, a never ending work in progress). Now that I have, things are a bit more manageable. (Sorry I wish I could say things are smooth sailing, but I think we all know life just isn’t like that.) Parenting and raising kids is a journey, not a destination. It will always ebb and flow quite like the tide!
One of my biggest passions is feeding my children a wholesome, nourishing diet in order to benefit their overall health. It is my daily goal to equip them as best as possible to face their day by making sure I know what goes into their growing bodies. I find it to be one of my greatest joys, as well as one of the biggest fights of my life and theirs. A joy in the sense that when they are nourished, I can see it in their demeanors and overall health. A battle in the sense that I have to fight hard in this day of misinformation accumulated over decades only to offer nothing but complete nutrient-devoid garbage that passes as food. This bombardment faces my impressionable kids at every turn. Every time they step foot out of this home, they are faced with less than par food options with which to feed their hungry bellies and eager eyes.
I know I am not the only mom out there who is disheartened by this conundrum. I know there are those out there who fight this same daily battle. I also know there are those who are overwhelmed in the midst of such a complicated state of affairs and have no idea how to begin or continue the battle to raise healthy children.
How do you parent your kids when it comes to making good food choices outside of your four walls? How do you protect them? Surely there are many approaches to this question, but one that stands the test of time is this: model the life you want them to have. And, teach, teach, teach!
I know when I started out on my real food journey ( I really always believed in real food, but this was a radical time that I ditched processed foods completely never to look back), I wanted to make so many changes, and I was on high alert and a bit overwhelmed at how I would keep them from eating junk. In retrospect, we have come a long way, and I have seen my kids mature in so many ways in regards to how they view food. I too have relaxed and learned how to take it all one day at a time. I want others to know there is hope that your kids too will eat those healing foods and not lose heart.
We are up against a mighty giant when it comes to what goes in our kids’ minds. There are commercials, candy-lined store shelves, parties to go to, school events and friends influence all with the mentality or mindset that if it looks good or tastes good, then by all means have some. The brainwashing starts young and never relents. Our influence is of no small matter though. We must train them up in the way they should go and give them some solid roots as they face this world of convenience at the cost of health. We have far more influence over their mentalities than we realize. I think it was designed that way for a reason!
What I have done over the past few years is simply made changes over time. First I stopped buying all processed foods on a regular basis and only offered real whole foods. At the time, the kids would ask ‘where are the pretzels’ or the this or that, and I would simply say that ‘mommy isn’t going to buy that stuff anymore’.
Yes, they balked a bit, but when they were hungry they had no choice but to eat the healthy foods I had on hand. Eventually, this all became old hat to them, and they now know no other way. I do have a few store bought items that I find are okay that I buy from time to time, such as a certain brands of ice cream, a certain type of potato chips, some Larabars here and there.
I also slowly switched over to gluten free, and for the most part, my kids only get some true sourdough bread and sprouted grain bread. At birthdays I come up with a healthier cake recipe, at holidays I find ways each time reduce the junk that comes at them. And each time they are more open to it, because they just know that’s how it goes.
So to all the parents diving into this real food journey, hang in there, and take it one day at a time. Your kids will fight you, so expect it, but you will win, because you have to, right?! It’s not gonna be an overnight thing, and it’s not going to be easy, but if you have your resolve and know that this fight is for their very health, you will be able to stand firm.
Here are some basic concepts/steps to help you as you journey through the day to day, making your best efforts to nourish your children in this modern day.
Tips For Getting Kids To Eat Healthy
1. Get yourself on the right path first. This will give you the resolve to fight for your kids too and not give up when all the whining and complaning sets in. You know what they say, ‘if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.’ This is so true, because when you are at your best, you can give your best. Don’t feel selfish focusing on your own health first. It will also help if you can model it for them!
2. Take it one day at a time and never look back. Find those few store bought items you can go to when life gets busy, and it will now seem like a huge treat to your kids rather than all they know. Remember that it took you years and even generations to get to the state of ill health or even just the state of understanding regarding food, it will take time to overhaul your kitchens and rearrange your life in regards to shopping, menu planning and feeding your family.
3. Reflect on your journey every now and then rather than focus on how far you have to go. Think about how much you have accomplished rather than what you still want to see take place. This will only encourage you to keep at it rather than throw in the towel.
4. Realize it will take time to win over friends, family and outside influences when it comes to feeding your kids healthy, and sometimes you may not win so be prepared to let it go. There will be times you will have to bite your lip and let things go. There will be times when you should fight. Learning when those times are will become more clear to you as you trek further and further along on this journey. Just remember you can’t turn a big ship quickly, but slowly over time you can make an impact. Start by training your kids to know the best choices they have when they go to school, friend’s houses, parties and so on. Teach them how to handle situations when they are bombarded with sweets and junk. But also know your kids’ limits. Knowing what your kid can and can’t handle will help you to equip them and to protect them. None of us can expect the utmost optimal diet at all times. There will be times when we have to accept tolerable over the absolute best. And that’s okay.
5. Let them help with the food preparation and menu planning. Giving a child hands-on experience will make them feel more of a sense of ownership. Ask them what meals they want, and make it for them, or have them help you. Just make it your own healthy way, they will begin to develop a taste for real food, I promise!
6. Do not over-stress, and by all means do not have any guilt. Just do the best you can and don’t sweat what you can’t do at any given time. Never allow guilt to creep in and overcome you. You are now choosing freedom for your family in the food choices you make, don’t allow yourself to get bound up again by feeling guilt when you don’t do it perfectly. That is not the point! Be free and enjoy the journey. Revel in your health and energy levels and the fact that you aren’t going to the doctor as much, or that your kids don’t need braces or little Johnny’s asthma went away. Focus on the blessings that this way of life has brought you, and just press onward!
Hopefully this post has encouraged and inspired those parents out there who just weren’t sure they were up for the challenge of pursuing a healthier dietary protocol at home. I know if I can make major changes, so can you. It’s just a simple yet steady plodding along daily with the goal in mind of actually nourishing your kids and helping them to achieve the best health possible that you have to keep in mind.
Lydia Joy Shatney is the author of Divine Health, a site geared toward healing your body through a real foods diet. A single mother of four boys, she has overcome many health issues such as migraines, chronic sinus infections, mittleschmerz, chronic pain, seasonal allergies and has greatly reduced asthma to the point where inhalers are only kept as a back up. On her site you will find a plethora of health related articles as well as numerous recipes for nourishing foods such as fermented foods, how to incorporate liver into meals, gluten free goodies, lower carb snacks and many kid friendly meals.