THRIVE starts this Wednesday and it’s honestly one of my favourite aspects of the work that we do at Low Tox Life, to help parents feel more empowered – towards food knowledge and good practices themselves, and towards their kids, and the role we play in their food education. It’s no coincidence that children’s health, whether privileged or struggling to make ends meet, is at a low. It seems every family has a child with some sort of health challenge these days, and I refuse to accept this as the new normal when we can all empower ourselves to do SO much. I’ve seen it in our community and through our courses time and again.
When I run corporate lunch workshops to help super time poor double full-time-work families STILL feel that they can get a handle on the whole food education front for their families, I have to keep it simple. We’ve only got an hour, including question time and if you want a small fraction of a window into the power of the THRIVE course and the private chat group for motivation throughout the 3.5 weeks, then I thought I’d share this.
This is the gist of what I teach in a 40 minute talk, and it truly works. I get emails all the time from parents who attend these sessions – in fact just the other day a guy in the Luna Park Theme Park car park said “Is that Alexx Stuart?” and he said “Hope you don’t think it’s weird to stop you in a car park – Actually it IS weird” (we both laughed) “I just had to say you came and gave a talk at UBS a couple of years ago and it changed our family’s life”. If being my son’s 8th birthday that day wasn’t enough, that elevated the awesomeness of the day even more!
S is for SHOP with your kids
And I don’t mean at the supermarket. Keep supermarket shopping to being a solo trip (take a podcast and a tea and make it an enjoyable after dinner activity!) or order those items online so that your kids aren’t exposed to junk at the cash registers, the aisles of cereals and processed foods in the middle, and on those end of aisle promotions.Just getting them out of that environment will be a big win on reducing their exposure to processed weirdness. Then? Even if you’ve only time for once or twice a month, take them to the market and get them choosing veg and fruits with you – with no expectation that they eat it. We’re trying to bring the joy back here! SO “Little johnny why don’t you choose 4 green veggies for the family for this week”. Johnny invariably then says “I don’t like it” or something to that effect. “You don’t have to eat it, just think about which ones you like the look of best and make a nice choice for Mummy or Daddy” whoever’s with him… Chat to farmers, sample everything possible and comment NOT on whether something is ‘healthy’ or ‘good for you’ but more about the pretty colour, yummy crunchy texture or about the season and how it grows best there. No setting our kids up for ‘evil’ and ‘good’ food and a life time of shame and guilt that comes with that!
C is for COOK with your kids
We seem to mainly let our kids in the kitchen cook with us when it’s cake making time. If they’re part of the everyday cooking, they’ll be much more inclined to have a go at stuff they’ve made the effort to cook. No age is too young. My son used to stir (assisted by me, he’s no boy genius!) his purees from 4 months in the Bjorn.
V is for VARY THINGS with your kids
I remember there was pretty much only one way we ate green vegetables growing up – steamed and of course because the low-fat era was in full swing, butter was out of the question. Darn marketers! Variety is the spice of like and some kids will fall in love with veggies they thought they hated when they’re presented differently – roasted broccoli with olive oil and salt is a great example of that. Pureed buttery, honey carrots is another one… Invest in a good stick blender or vitamix / thermomix type tool that you’ll have for years and years and make ultra delicious, super smooth mashes and purées, packed with veggies. Then roast things, mash things, serve as raw sticks, drowned in roast chicken juices, cooked in the same pan as the roast… Variety is the spice of life and can often be the kicker for broadening the variety on the love list!
E is for EAT with your kids
Yes we’re busy but dinner isn’t a restaurant with 2 covers a night. Try whenever you can to eat together as a family (and for some this ends up being breakfast being ‘that meal’ or weekends because it’s easier for everyone to be together). Why? It’s hard to buy the story of you needing to eat your veggies and meats etc, when you never see your parents do it. Don’t talk about whether of not they’re “being good” by eating or eating it ‘all’ or “being naughty” by not. We want to remove the whether they’re eating or not from the focus for congratulations, affection, adoration or getting in trouble wherever possible because it can quickly become about control.
E is for you to show ENTHUSIASM about whole foods with your kids.
Extending from eating as a family or at least one of you with your kids a few times a week, is showing YOUR enthusiasm for the FOOD rather than whether or not your little peeps are eating it. Be casual when they melt down over food “That’s a shame. Well, just sit here and chat to us then” (nothing like boredom at the table with no toys to get a child thinking eventually “Well, I may as well eat then”) Meanwhile you can affirm their choices when they helped you fill the shopping basket “Thanks so much for choosing the broccoli, this is the best one I’ve ever tasted”. Might sound like overkill, but our kids LOVE validation and making them feel clever for choosing something for you is a brilliant, simple way to provide them some validation without any expectation that they eat it.
Now, while this is a fraction of the principals we cover across the 10 topics of the THRIVE: Raising Kids WHo Love real Food e course, (which you can join by clicking that link) where practitioner help to empower us to look at deficiencies, immunity, gut health, body image, tiny and teen fussiness, additive knowledge and more, it’s a great place to start.
And if you’re thinking “well it’s going to take me a lot more than just reading about good ideas. I need help putting them into practice, then please do join. Imagine the good that can come from 3.5 weeks with a good focus on this stuff. Crazy not to, hey?
So there you go – a mini head start into Wednesday’s course so you can feel like one of those students who got their text books before semester began – that SOOOO was never me at university! hehe.
Real Food. Healthy Kids. Happy Life.