Friday, November 7, 2014

Keeping Kids Naturally Healthy

Clearwater Beach Oct 2014
With five kids at home ranging in age from 11 to 4, you can imagine we have some pretty humorous conversations at times.  One comment from a couple months or so back really struck me as funny.  Here's what went on-

Me- Madi has an appointment tomorrow.  You kids need to get up and get ready, so we're not running behind in the morning.

Sawyer - Madi's doctor or my doctor?

Caroline - Madi's doctor.  We haven't been to see our doctor in a loooonnggg time.  Mom, I miss Dr. Carney.

Everyone chimes in in agreement.

At this point I just laughed at the fact that my kids were missing their pediatrician.  But it really got me thinking about how things had changed around our home and how much healthier we've all been. Then I started to wonder what the changes were that have made our lives healthier and better overall.  I came up with 3 major things.

1. They Drink More Water

This sounds way too easy a change, right?  Um.... no.  See the thing about drinking more water is it means the kids aren't drinking their usual beverage of choice.  What's in your pantry and fridge right now that the kids grab when thirsty?  Juice? Pop? Powder drink mix?Those were the big ones our kids drank all the time.  Pop/Soda/Coke is just all kinds of nasty.  Maybe not in taste, but definitely for their little bodies.  And we all know this.  Juice sounds better and we can even justify it in a lot of ways to be good for us.  However, juice is a sugary drink with very little nutritional value.  Do I really need to comment on the drink mix?

It took all of us a while to get used to filling a glass with water instead of one of the other choices above.  I was one of the biggest offenders!

What did I do to convince all the kids to reach for the water and not the pop?  Funny thing - when you only have water or milk in the house to drink, that's all anyone can drink.  If I knew I wasn't strong enough to say 'no' to a cold Dr. Pepper, how could I expect my 9-yr-old to say 'no'?!  I had to make the conscience decision not to buy certain drinks, so the temptation wouldn't be around.

My kids now crave water.  If they don't want water, there is always the option of milk.  Do they still drink the other?  Sure.  On occasion.  Sometimes there's no avoiding it.  Especially when you go to as many pitch-ins as our family does.  And, that's fine.  I just try to control the other 95% of the time.

2. I Cleaned Up Their Food

Food is hard.  Harder than changing what the kids drink.  Much harder.

Here's my experience :  I scour the internet for some wonderful, healthy, multi-step, labor intensive meal.  I spend my time and effort making this meal for six others and myself.  I serve it up for all of my amazing and loving family with a smile on my face.

And then REALITY hits....... ALL the kids turn up their noses and make a face like they just caught a glimpse of the most disgusting thing ever.  A couple of them pick up their fork and start making an attempt to at least look like they are going to try whatever is on their plate.  A couple of the kids don't care about hurting my feelings and flat out refuse to try the new culinary creation in front of them.  One might make an attempt to try the food; but, the measly morsel on the fork doesn't really count.  Then I casually glance at my loving husband and can tell by the look on his face he is only eating it to make me feel better.

About that time is when I want to throw in the towel and revert back to my box mixes, take out and casseroles.

It's frustrating, overwhelming and down right depressing at times to change the way you cook.  However, it is worth it so don't give up!

My best advice for you is K.I.S.S..  Keep It Simple (um) Sweetie.

It will take some time to learn a new way to cook.  That's OK.  Don't try to all the sudden become a chef that belongs in a 5 star restaurant.  Try fixing a lean protein, a couple of veggies or salad, and add in a fresh fruit on the side.  To make it even easier, keep the veggies raw or lightly steamed and sprinkle with garlic salt.  I love sending my husband out to the grill with our meat for the evening.  For those nights Kevin isn't home, I've learned to grill a couple things and have a couple of easy recipes for the stove top or oven to cook meat.  Having fruit at the table acts to both round out our meal and to satisfy the sweet tooth most of my family has.

It's a learning process for everyone.  We've tried many different veggies to see who likes what.  Carrots and cucumbers are the most popular in our house.  We have one kid who's idea of a good vegetable is corn and nothing else.  *sigh* We still make her try new things in hopes of her learning to like more foods.

Snacks is another area that's hard.  Keep lots of fresh foods and easy, healthy items the kids can get by themselves on hand.  Oranges, apples, bananas, cheese sticks or slices, yogurt, carrots, granola, nuts, raisins, celery, peanut butter, salsa, hummus, chips, ect....  Just keep an eye on the ingredients of any prepackaged foods you purchase.

3. Immunity Has Been Boosted

It's not always what your kids are exposed to, it's how strong their immune system is to combat it.

Think about it.  What we put in our bodies is either going to help or hurt our immune system.  That's just the way it is.  Sugar is going to wreak havoc on an immune system and make it much harder to fight off infection.  That's why cleaning up the food in your house will benefit your kids so much.

Another area that can impact the immune system is sleep or lack of it.  I know there are only so many hours in a day and there's always something going on or that needs to be done, but we all need our sleep.  Kids need even more.  Get them in bed at a good time each night as much as possible.  Our kids head to bed between 8 pm and 8:30 pm.  Do they fall asleep right away?  Not all of them.  The younger ones typically have no trouble.  The older kids can spend the time they are awake reading in bed.  Even our 6th grader has the same bedtime as the younger ones, as long as her homework is done.  She's able to get plenty of sleep, get up at 6 am and function better during the day since she gets a good amount of sleep.

We also supplement to boost their immune systems.

Multivitamins - The ones the kids take are chewable and have Lactoferrin (a component of the immune system) included in the ingredients.  It also helps our kids get the vitamins and minerals they don't get enough of from the foods they eat.

Probiotics - Did you know 60-70% of the immune system is located in our gut?  Taking a good probiotic helps keep the good bacteria at a level that will crowd out the bad and help prevent infection.  This is one thing our daughter's oncologist encouraged us to add to her diet when I asked him about taking a probiotic.

So.  Now you might be thinking..... Are you really able to do this all the time?

My answer...... AHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! {wiping away tears from eyes} NO.

Many foods in life taste really good even though they aren't good for us.  It's hard to not indulge every once in awhile.  And sometimes we have steroid induced cravings.

We try hard to keep things healthy, though.  The way we all feel and amount of energy we have when we do follow these simple rules makes it worth it.  Even the kids have commented about how 'yuck' they feel when they decide to eat poorly.

It's all fairly simple, it's just not necessarily easy.  Make small changes and take baby steps until you get where you want to be.  I'm always available to answer any questions and help where I can.

Here's to keeping all our kids healthy!!

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