Four Ways to Get Your Kids Off Junk Food

April 8, 2014 by Roxanne | 2 Comments | Filed in Nutrition

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Most children are around processed junk foods quite often. These foods are in their friend’s lunches, they are advertised on TV, they are in the vending machine at their gymnastics gym, and they see adults eat them. Anything would be interesting to a child if it were around as much as these foods are around. To add to it, processed junk foods are in colorful fun packaging and have sweet and sugary or salty and crunchy taste.

We all know that processed junk foods like chips, crackers, cookies, white bread, sugary jelly, and candy are not healthy. They do not promote overall wellness and do not support the growing bodies of our children. As a child, this is not an easy concept to understand so as parents it’s our job to minimize or eliminate these foods from their diet.

My children (ages 4 and 8 months) have had very little processed junk food in their lives. Their exposure to these foods is much more limited then most children. My 4 year old attends a school that does not have any junk food, she watches little to no television, we skip most of the inner isles at the grocery store, and her parents don’t eat it. There was one day last summer, she was being watched by a family member who had the television on in the background and there was a commercial for Honey Nut Cheerios – a food item she has never seen before. The next time we went grocery shopping, she saw Honey Nut Cheerios in the shopping cart of another customer and she started saying she wanted it. I explained that we don’t buy cereal because it is not nutritious – and then came the tears.

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Children pick up on everything, they are so impressionable. If junk food is all around them all the time it is nearly impossible to keep them from eating it. It might not be possible for you to limit their exposure to these foods at school but you can limit the exposure at home.

  • Don’t purchase foods that you don’t want your children to eat.
  • Even more importantly, don’t eat the foods you don’t want your child to eat. If you are eating junk food, they will eat junk food. If you eat healthy foods, they will be more inclined to do so.
  • Avoid the inner isles at the grocery store as much as possible. Most of the healthy foods are on the perimeter of the store.

Make Healthy Versions of Their Favorites

If your children are already hooked on junk it will be a slow process to get it out completely. A great way to start that transition is to start making healthier versions of foods they already like to eat.

  • Make homemade pizzas with organic ingredients
  • Make homemade granola bars
  • Make a healthier peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Buy healthy bread or make your own bread, use organic almond butter, and sugar free fruit preserves or apple or banana slices in place of sugary jelly.
  • Bake homemade muffins with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup

Add in Some Nutrient Dense Foods

Sometimes children crave junk food because they are not getting enough nutrients in general. If a child eats a lot of refined carbohydrates and other processed food, they are getting very little healthy nutrients like vitamins and minerals from those foods. It might seem like a child is always hungry for more food but they are really hungry for more nutrition. Add in some highly nutrient dense foods into your child’s diet like leafy greens, root vegetables, healthy oils (like coconut oil) and proteins from plant and/or animal sources. The cravings for all the junk food may subside if they receive more of the nutrients their growing body requires.

Make Healthy Foods Fun

Part of the appeal of processed foods are that they are fun. They are packaged with bright colors, the commercials are interesting, and the foods might come in animal shapes. Healthy food can be just as fun as those junk foods.

  • If your child loves pizza, start a family pizza night tradition and make homemade pizzas together. Let the children put on their own sauce and veggie toppings or make their own individual pies.
  • Cut vegetables into animal shapes with these shaped vegetable cutters.
  • Make homemade granola bars or protein bars like these into fun shapes with cookie cutters or baking molds

Getting rid of junk food completely takes time. Try some of these ideas to start the process and ease your way into it slowly. Going cold turkey is no fun for you or for them. In a few weeks, I am opening up sign ups for my new program, The Family Spring Cleanse, which is a program for families who want to get rid of junk food and start on a path towards a healthier diet and lifestyle. If you are struggling with junk food, this program will be a great fit for your family. I encourage you to join us!

What is the hardest junk food for you to get out of your life? and What do you think you can do to start minimizing it now? Please share in the comments.

 

Thank you, as always, for reading and commenting!

Roxanne


How to Safely Re-heat Food & Three Things to Avoid

March 28, 2014 by Roxanne | 6 Comments | Filed in Nutrition

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An essential part of eating healthy is making enough food to have leftovers. It’s the easiest way to minimize the amount of time you spend in the kitchen. Cook once, eat twice – or three times – depending on how many people you have in your family and how much food you can make at once.

I have written before about how I don’t own a microwave and the question I get in response to that is – how do you heat up leftovers?

Last week I made two large batches of soup in the crock pot. I had a lot planned for the week so it was perfect to have a nice amount of leftovers. After getting home at 5:15pm from taking my daughter to one of her activities with two tired children, having some food already made for dinner is a life saver. I poured two quarts of soup in a sauce pan, set it to medium and dinner was ready in 15 minutes.

Two Easy Ways to Re-Heat Food (That really doesn’t take THAT long)

Stove Top

Heating food on the stove top is easy and doesn’t take very long. It’s also possible to use only one pot to minimize cleaning. Foods that are ideal for stop top heating include soups, stews, rice,stir fry, o any other skillet type meals.

Toaster Oven

Shallow tempered glass food storage containers like these work perfectly for heating food in a toaster oven. I often use this method for heating vegetables and meats for a fast lunch or dinner. It usually takes 10 minutes or less.

Three Things to Avoid When Heating Food

Don’t Use a Microwave

Microwaves heat food by causing water molecules in it to resonate at very high frequencies and eventually turn to steam which heats your food. While this can rapidly heat your food it also causes a change in your food’s chemical structure. Read more about why Microwaving food is not ideal here.

Avoid Plastic Containers

When using a microwave it is common to heat things in plastic containers. This is a bad idea because of the toxins that are found in plastics. BPA is a well known toxin in plastic and recent news exposed other substances that may even be worse. Heating plastic may make these chemicals leach into your food at higher levels so its best to avoid this. Obviously if you are using an regular oven, plastic containers are not an option anyway.

Avoid Aluminum

Using aluminum foil or aluminum cookware is not a healthy choice. Heat causes aluminum to leach into foods at unsafe levels. Aluminum toxicity has been linked to a number of problems such as Alzheimer’s disease, weakening the bones, and more.

Do you use any of these three things to avoid? What challenges would you have if you gave them up? and Why? Please share in the comments below.

 

Thank you, as always, for reading and commenting!

Roxanne


Why You Should NOT Buy BPA-Free Plastics

March 17, 2014 by Roxanne | 8 Comments | Filed in Eco & Toxin-Free Living

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Not long ago, in 2008, when the dangers of bisphenol A (BPA) first came to our attention it was something that made me stop and think about plastics. Plastics are a huge part of our lives. They are used in so many ways that its nearly impossible to avoid them all together. Personally, I made a decision a long time ago to avoid plastics as much as possible – especially plastic that comes in contact with our food.

The problem with BPA is that it mimics the hormone estrogen and has been linked to a long list of serious health problems. Estrogen is essential for everything from bone growth to ovulation to heart function. Too much or too little, especially during pregnancy or early childhood, can alter brain and organ development, leading to disease later in life. In addition, elevated estrogen levels generally increase a woman’s risk of breast cancerIn recent news, we learned that although children’s products, like sippy cups, are now being manufactured BPA-free, the BPA is now being replaced with other things that may be even worse. This article on Mother Jones states:

“CertiChem and its founder, George Bittner, who is also a professor of neurobiology at the University of Texas-Austin, had recently coauthored a paper in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It reported that “almost all” commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.”

The new replacement for BPA, called Tritan, has been marketed as a plastic free of synthetic estrogen. It is now being said that this may not be the case. Ever since BPA came into the news, I’ve had the nagging suspicion that this was going to happen. I’ve been just waiting for something like this to come out in the news so I am not the least bit surprised.

What Should You Use Instead?

  • Food Storage Containers – Replace plastic containers with glass like Pyrex or CorningWare
  • Water Bottles – Replace plastic bottles with glass or stainless steel like LifeFactory or Klean Kanteen
  • Sippy Cups – Replace plastic cups with glass or stainless steel like LifeFactory or Thermos
  • Baby Bottles – Replace plastic bottles with glass like these from Evenflo

Have you tried to eliminate plastic food storage? What is the hardest thing for you to replace? Let us know in the comments.

 

Thank you, as always, for reading and commenting!

Roxanne


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