Category Archives: Children

7 Ways to Teach Your Children to Eat Healthy

Eat Healthy
Image by monkey_business

It is so frustrating.  I want my children to eat healthy, but the only vegetable Johnny will eat is raw carrots.

My youngest wants chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.

I try to get my kids to eat more fruits and vegetables, but it seems like an uphill battle.

I talk to them about eating right all the time, but they just don’t seem to listen.

Children are visual learners — they watch, they see, they do.

So . . . let them “DO.” Turn your kitchen into a “learning lab.”

Cooking with Mom or Dad can be one of the most fun and educational experiences possible for children. And . . . it will create memories that last a lifetime.

Once you get them started, my guess is they will want to do a lot of cooking on their own.

My mom was a great basic cook — and never used a recipe (at least not that I can remember). It was her ability to cook delicious meals so effortlessly that inspired me to develop my own skill set.

Her gift to me was free rein in the kitchen to experiment and cook as often as I wanted. That freedom developed my passion for the art and an appreciation of what it takes to create good meals for the family.

If you want your children to enjoy long, healthy lives that are sustained by healthy eating habits, now is the time to start them on the right path.

Seven Ways to Inspire Them

One-on-One Time

Work with one child at a time. Let him/her be your partner in planning a healthy balanced dinner. When you finish planning, make a list of the groceries needed and take him/her shopping with you.

Shopping provides a first-hand experience for buying healthy foods like organic produce, pastured eggs, and grain-fed beef. They can also learn how to read labels to avoid dangerous additives (If they don’t know what it means, or can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it.)

Keep a Stool in the Kitchen

Invite the children to watch while you cook. In the beginning, you can explain what you are doing, why you chose the foods you are using for good nutrition and how the flavors and textures make more interesting meals. Make the explanations fun and interesting.

Let them help whenever possible — reading the recipe, helping you measure, mixing dry ingredients together, tossing the salad, etc.

Kids are also great taste testers, which is a smart way to get them to sample new foods.

Start Them Early

How early? As soon as they show interest. Many four-year-olds love being in the kitchen.

Start with fun, easy foods like healthy snacks, breakfast meals, and sandwiches. Making cookies was a family favorite for my kids. Even with desserts, you can impress on them the importance of making foods from scratch — so they have control over the ingredients.

Depending on age and ability when preparing full meals, let them do as much as possible. Teach them how to peel and cut up vegetables, break lettuce leaves for the salad, combine and toss the salad, place chopped veggies in the steamer, wash the potatoes for baking, layer the foods for a casserole, etc.

As early as possible, teach them how to use knives safely. The younger ones can use kitchen scissors. It is easy to teach kitchen safety when they are cooking with you.

Introduce them to healthy cooking techniques: steaming, sautéing with healthy oils, baking, roasting, and broiling.

Family Night Cook-Off

This can be a wonderful family activity. One night a week have everyone help prepare dinner.

Each week have a different family member (including mom and dad) plan the menu, which must include a main dish, a vegetable, and dessert.

There should be no restrictions as long as the dishes are made from scratch with healthy ingredients**.

Before you start preparation, be sure everyone is clear about his/her responsibility. (Don’t forget setting the table, and clean up.)

A Family that Eats Together . . .

Always sit down together for dinner (and for breakfast as often as possible) The old adage, “A family that eats together, stays together” is still very true.

Sitting down to a healthy, delicious family dinner every night to eat, talk, and laugh is a powerful glue for holding the family together.

This has never been more important than it is today. Unfortunately, eating together is becoming less and less common. Don’t let that happen to your family.

Be Subtle When Introducing Habit Change

We live in a world of “super-sized” everything and frequent mindless eating, which makes portion contol more difficult.

Over the years, the average size of a dinner plate has increased from seven or eight inches to 12 inches.

Rather than preaching portion control that may or may not work, buy and use smaller plates (nine inches max) for your meals so the plate looks full, with less food.

You will probably have to buy “lunch” plates in order to get a smaller size. They can be purchased on Amazon and Target.

It would be wise to fill the plates and serve (rather than having people serve themselves). Keep the serving sizes reasonable — leave a little white space around the portions — avoid stacking.

Also, discourage mindless munching of unhealthy snacks when sitting at the computer or while watching TV.

Always have healthy snacks available. For example, fresh fruit (washed and ready to eat), plain yogurt topped with fresh berries and drizzled with a little honey, or real cheese and 100% whole-grain crackers.

Create Eating Adventures

Introduce new foods often. Make it fun. This helps develop a willingness to try new foods.

If you have a picky eater, adding something new to the menu with foods they already like can increase their repertoire of nutritious foods.

The rule in our family was they must each one bite of everything served. It worked most of the time. As adults, three out of four of my children eat almost everything.

If over time there are foods that several family members really dislike, don’t worry about it. There are enough healthy foods available they can still maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

The habit of healthy eating begins early — at home. As a parent, it is important to take every opportunity to help your children develop a positive attitude toward healthy eating so they can live long, productive lives.

Final Factors to Consider

Are you setting the example you want your children to follow? What changes do you need to make?

By implementing any or all of the above suggestions, you will be helping you children to enjoy preparing and eating healthy foods. 

Adventures in the kitchen and eating well will become family traditions. 

**When you prepare meals from scratch, you have full control over the ingredients and you know that your family is getting the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.

We recommend TWEENS and TEENS, A Cookbook to Get You Started, as a useful tool to use with those just learning to cook.

Related Article:  Stock Your Kitchen with Healthy Foods

Mediterranean Diet – Excellent Choice for Women

Lead researcher, Cecilia Samieri, DVM, PHD, Boston University School of Medicine stated, “Women with healthier dietary patterns at midlife were 40% more likely to survive to age 70 or over.” That is proof that a diet does affect your longevity. But you already knew that.

But, why is the Mediterranean Diet specifically an excellent choice for women?

Mediterranean Diet - Excellent Choice for Women
Image by lunamarina

The average American woman’s diet is filled with highly-processed foods, high in unhealthy fats, high in refined sugar and white flour, filled with additives, and low in nutrition.

Continual consumption of such an unhealthy diet wreaks havoc on a woman’s skin and her body.  It causes her to age more quickly; it weakens her muscles; her energy levels drop; inactivity sets in; and she eventually loses her natural sense of well-being.

The Mediterranean Diet is primarily a natural food diet made up of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, legumes, nuts, and a little red wine. It is high in monounsaturated fats due to the use of extra-virgin olive oil which is extremely beneficial to the body. Processed foods, fast foods, high sugar content and unhealthy fats are not part of the eating plan.

A Different Way of Eating

The Med-Diet is a different way of eating – you will be feeding your body natural foods that are healthy for the body and mind!

Most women who are struggling to lose weight generally reduce their food intake and start exercising vigorously. While both of these things can be helpful, reducing your food intake, but continuing to eat unhealthy foods is not a wise choice.

It is much better to choose a healthy diet and to eat in moderation to lose weight.  You could possibly eat junk food in moderation and stay slim; but, think about what are you would be doing to your body in the process. You may be choosing to lose weight at the cost of your good health.

It isn’t difficult to see that it would be much better to eat healthy foods like salmon drizzled in olive oil, Greek yogurt with a little honey, stir-fried broccoli, or Quinoa Pasta Primavera, etc.

That is what makes the Mediterranean diet so fantastic. The food you get to eat is actually delicious, nutritious and beneficial to your health.  No more forcing yourself to eat another bland steamed chicken breast or chalk-like protein shake – or caught between feeling half-starved or binge eating when no one is looking.

Reap the Rewards

  • Fresh vegetables and fruits will ensure your body has adequate fiber and vitamins.
  • Calcium rich foods such as kale, Brussel sprouts and spinach will prevent the dreaded osteoporosis.
  • Legumes and potatoes, which are rich in potassium, will prevent you from losing muscle tone and will also lower your blood pressure.
  • Olive oil will reduce your risk of heart disease.
  • The healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in the fish that you eat will do wonders for your health. The modern day diet is too high in omega-6 fatty acids and too low in omega-3 fatty acids. The Mediterranean diet will reverse this awful trend.
  • Honey as your natural sweetener along with generous servings of fruit will help minimize your sugar intake and help avoid Type 2 Diabetes.

Unlike the Atkins Diet, Paleo Diet or Cabbage Soup Diet, the Mediterranean Diet is not too restrictive, which makes it much easier to follow and to sustain over the long-haul.  You will be able stay on the diet because you will be enjoying yourself rather than suffering and staying on track through pure will power.

The Mediterranean Diet is a way of life. It will work wonders for your health and peace of mind. All it takes is a desire to be healthy and a willingness to prepare and eat the wonderfully delicious foods in moderation and daily exercise to start living a healthier lifestyle.

Mediterranean Diet - Excellent Choice for Women
Image by Mike Baird

To all women, I say, “ Make this choice as soon as you can and enjoy the health benefits and sense of well-being that come from being on a nutritious, well-balanced diet.”

3 Reasons to Start Eating Clean

Who doesn’t love pizza, cake, cookies, chips, and ice cream? Giving up your favorite junk food is not easy, which can make clean eating a challenge. As a rule, everyone who thinks about eating clean needs a little extra motivation to finally make the switch.

There are three very good reasons to start eating clean.

1. You Feel Better

Image by iphoto
Image by iphoto

This is a no-brainer. The basic premise of clean eating is to eat only close-to-nature, un-processed foods that are good for you, which means NOT EATING empty-calorie, additive-filled, high-fat and sugary foods (fast foods and junk food).

It is definitely not easy, especially if you have been eating badly for a long time. BUT- I guarantee you will see results almost immediately if you are truly committed to the process.

In a short time you will start to feel better and have a lot more energy all day long. Plus, there is a good chance you will start sleeping better and waking up rested. It won’t be long until you no longer have  to rely on those three cups of coffee to get you going each morning.

The reason is simple – you will be giving your body the nutrients it needs to run efficiently and effectively as it was meant to do. Instead of creating a sugar and/or caffeine high and being forced to deal with the subsequent crash, you will be getting what you need to feel great and have as much energy as that Energizer Bunny all day long.

2. You Look Better

Image by Dmitriy Shironosov
Image by Dmitriy Shironosov

Real, fresh food without additives provides the vitamins, minerals and other micro nutrients than are required for good health and great physical appearance. You may be surprised to see thicker, shinier hair and clearer, firmer skin in just a few months.

Processed foods are designed to trigger eating habits that far exceed what our bodies need (so people overeat). Plus, many of the nutrients have been stripped and your body remains undernourished – and feeling hungry.  It is no wonder that many people in the United States and other First-World countries are overweight.

Returning to our roots and establishing a more natural way of eating will help you lose the extra pounds you have been carrying around. You will look better, feel better and become much healthier all at the same time. The last point being the most important.

3. You Set an Example for Others

When you eat well and feel well, everyone around you benefits – especially those you love.

When you eat well and keep good, healthy foods in your pantry and fridge, it is much easier for your spouse and children to do the same. They are much more likely to grab a healthy snack when you lead by example.

Think about the amazing impact you can have on your family. You will not only benefit yourself and ensure that you stay healthy and with them for a long time to come, you will also be influencing them to make healthy choices now and over the long-haul.

That should be a powerful motivator for you to begin your clean-eating diet now – and continue it for the rest of  your life.

Start today and enjoy the benefits for yourself and your loved ones. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is and how great real food tastes.


A Clean Eating Family

Trying to stick to a clean eating diet when the rest of your family is eating the same non-healthy diet that they know and love is setting yourself up for failure. It is nearly impossible to stay with it.

So . . . why not get everyone on board and become a clean eating family? When there is no junk food in the house to tempt you, it will be a 1000 X’s easier to stay with a healthy, unprocessed food diet.

The $64,000 question is – how do you get the entire family on board with such a dramatic change?

Hold a Family Meeting

After you have seriously considered and answered the two questions in the previous post – Get Started with Clean Eating, call a family meeting and lay all your cards on the table. Share with them the WHY and WHAT of this new proposed way of eating.

Explain why eating clean, healthy, unprocessed food is so important and why you want to make this change as a family. When you talk about it in a dedicated, passionate way, conveying how important it is to you (and to them) – and ask for their support, there is a good chance you will get it.

A Gradual Change Is Best

Going cold turkey as a family could create too much resistance. It may be more effective to make the change in stages, beginning with small changes at first.

For example:

  • Grill some chicken and fix a big salad, but also offer hot dinner roles with butter and jam – then, for dessert, serve fresh sliced strawberries sprinkled with Stevia and a dollop of fresh, lightly-sweetened whipped cream.
  • Make your next batch of spaghetti sauce with grass-fed beef hamburger and serve with whole-wheat noodles. Add some sliced cucumbers, avocado and tomatoes as a healthy side, but keep the garlic bread for those who want it.
  • Make Spanish omelets with cage-free eggs, stuffed with real solid chunk, grated cheese and topped with salsa made with onions, bell peppers and tomatoes, plus your favorite Mexican flavorings. Serve with rich 12-grain toast and real butter.

Encourage your kids to take at least a couple of bites of each new healthy dish. If they do not like it, don’t force them to eat it. They will eventually come around.

Create New Family Favorites

After each meal that includes a new dish, take a vote. Find out what they like and what they don’t like. It won’t take you long to find new family favorites and start creating a list. From that list, you can develop other dishes. It is a great opportunity to use your creativity.

Once you have a few solid dishes that work for the family, they (or their variations) can be the center of your meals. Be sure to use the same process with finding favorite clean snacks – and keep plenty of the healthy favorites readily available. (BTW snacks are actually easier.)

Include one fruit or vegetable as part of each meal. Encourage the kids to eat fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds for snacks. Always have them on hand and prepared for easy snacking.

Remember, even small amounts of healthy food quickly add up and slowly begin to replace the processed junk. It won’t be long until junk food becomes a faint memory of the past.

Practice the 80/20 Rule

Every step toward incorporating clean food into your family’s diet is a step in the right direction.

Every meal does not have to be 100% clean. The 80/20 rule works very well in this situation. Make it your goal to have at least 80% healthy foods in every meal. The other 20% can be a little off, when necessary (just don’t let it expand beyond that).

It is also OK if the kids have cake of pizza at a birthday party. The goal is to build a different attitude toward food and make an overall improvement on the family’s diet and lifestyle – an overall move toward healthier living.

Get Started with Clean Eating

Image by nito
Image by nito

You can get started with clean eating in one of two ways:

  1. You can go cold turkey by eliminating junk food, refined sugar products, white flours products, fast foods, and processed foods from your diet – all at once.
  2. You can take a more gradual approach.

Both ways have advantages and disadvantages. Pick the one that is most suited for your personality and approach to life, and give it a try.

If you have the self-discipline and confidence to go cold turkey – go for it! If that doesn’t work for you, choose the more gradual approach.

The important thing is to CHOOSE and stay with it. AND . . . regardless of your choice, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP if you slip up here and there, particularly in the beginning.

The key to success is remembering that you are taking a significant step toward better eating habits that will improve your health and protect your magnificent body.

The first step is to answer two questions:

Why Are You Choosing a Clean Eating Diet?

In order to reach any goal, you must have a powerful personal reason for wanting to be successful. So, before you start, be sure you know why clean eating is important to you and your family. Write it down and keep it upper-most in your mind.

What Does Clean Eating Mean to You?

Be sure you understand the concept of clean eating and define what it means to you. If you are not clear on what you are trying to do – what you will and will not eat – it will be impossible to be successful.

To get you started, let’s look at the basics of a clean-eating diet:

  • No processed food, junk food, or fast food
  • Organic produce
  • Free-range chicken and Cage-free eggs
  • Grass-feed beef
  • Raw dairy, if you can find it

From there you must decide what foods you want to cut completely from your diet.

White flour and refined sugar products are fairly easy. But, you must decide if you want to include whole wheat flour or cut out wheat completely. What about other grains? What about dairy? Will you include it, or not?

What are you willing to give up – and what are the “must keeps” for you?

Next Steps

  • Go through all your cupboards, pantry and fridge and toss everything that is no longer on your approved food list. If you are going cold turkey, this is critical.
  • Cold turkey may cause you to experience some withdrawal. Do not be surprised it you do not feel well and fight a headache for two or thee days. Your body may need an adjustment period to adapt to the cleaner food and to go through a detoxification process from all the junk you have been eating up to this point. The worse your diet has been – the worse your withdrawal can be.
  • If tossing food in the trash goes against your grain, donate it to a food bank. Or – eat what you have and do not replace any of it. Do no allow processed or junk food to enter your house, or your stomach.
  • Next, cut out all white flour and refined sugar.
  • From there, gradually make more and more changes to your diet until you reach a level of clean eating that you can live with. It does not have to be all or nothing – any changes you make toward clean eating will be good for your health.

Drink Lots of Water

Drink lots of water – notice I said WATER. Sodas and energy drinks are absolutely NOT part of the diet. The only juice you should drink must be freshly-squeezed. Bottled/canned juices are essentially flavored sugar water and are filled with additives.

A cup or two (no more) of coffee each day is OK – if you are willing to stick with plain, organic coffee without sugar and sugary creamers. Herbal teas and lemon water are great alternatives to coffee.

The process you use to get you to a solid clean eating diet is not important. What is important is that you make the change. Regardless of the route you take, you will be amazed at how much better you feel on a clean, “close-to-nature” diet – in other words a diet filled with REAL FOOD.

You will also have more energy and a mental clarity that you may not have realized you were missing.

Good luck and ENJOY!