You know there is a better way than the Standard American Diet. You have heard so many different strategies — eat like a European, try paleo, go vegan, attempt to do GAPs. There are many people in your life who have no idea what you are talking about and would appreciate if you just ate their burgers and brownies, and left it at that. But you are drawn to a different way, a better way for you and your family. You are just feeling a bit all over the place — some days you come off to serious for yourself and some days you say yes to things you wish you knew how to say no to.
Your first issue is that you have no idea what healthy actually means and are confused by the landscape. It is not your fault. The media has totally confused us throughout our lifetimes! Your next issue is that you love the idea of homecooked meals, healthy kale-craving kids, and lifestyle that is a bit off the beat and track; but the truth is, your not quite sure you love the roll of cook (apron and all), you have a bigger purpose in the world than mom in resident, and you live in a pretty stereo typical American town. Your last issue is that you like people and parties, and you don’t want to insult your neighbor who has no idea.
In order to make a real change — one that lessons sick days and gives your kids the future you dream about — you have to take a stand. It is not an easy road, but it can be a simple one.
You are part of the most important population on the planet right now because moms are the ones who CAN change the landscape of the Standard American diet. There are well meaning people in school districts and in the government, but only practices done everyday at home can get us knowing what food serves us and free us from many of the “food addictions” that have us clamoring for the bad stuff!
It is our job. It is a tall order. I believe we can have a blast doing it!
Here are three things you can commit to doing more of…
- Eat family dinners, as a family. It may seem old fashion but it is a life changing practice. Studies show that teens who eat family dinner do better in school, do less drugs and are less likely to get depressed. It is hard to imagine that you sweet guy who is just starting to write his letters or your girl who dances all day in her twirly pink dress will ever be a teen, much less one with issues, but it happens, and you hold the key. In the immediate future family dinners are the best way for a whole family to eat healthy food and connect with each other on a daily basis — they are healing for all.
- Feed your kids healthy snacks. Snacks create a ripple effect in our kids lives. We give our kids unhealthy snacks at times when they may not even need food. This does two things it gets them craving more unhealthy food, which we have to say “no” too (which sucks), and it makes them full before meals (which makes them seem picky). Always start with fruits and veggies and then have some other healthy sweet treats to mix things up every once in a while, but avoid the stuff that starts in a box. You can get 100 snack ideas here »
- Plan your meals each week. A lot of the overwhelm around meal making comes at 5:00 pm when you panic because you’re missing an ingredient or you doubt that the recipe you just found will be liked by your kids. Emotionally you and your kids are tired, and that brings on the stress. When you know what is for dinner with great certainty, you have all the ingredients in advance and you present it to your family in a way that says “This is what’s for dinner!”, there is no space to protest. If a week seems like a lot, use the post-it trick — every morning write what’s for dinner on a post-it and stick it to the fridge. Making the decision before you feel worn out from a long day is the key.. You can get a blank plan here »
Food-wise, here are some “formulas” to use that will help you plan. Assign them to a day and always have them on that day really, I could have rice bowls everyday!)
- Master the art of the ricebowl. This dinner, or lunch, is super flexible through the seasons and will get you to redefine your plate.
- Make some smoothie magic! Smoothies can be filling, nutrient dense, and delish. For a child they are akin to a milkshake. Three of my favorites are Peanut Butter Chocolate, Strawberries and Cream, and Mango Madness. When you are ready, start adding greens and getting your veggies in your drinks — I start every day with a Green Smoothie.
- Get good at soup. This is about making a mean pot of soup and going through the process to turn everyone in your house into a soup eater. Try cutting the veggies differently, offering a puree, or just keep serving it. Sometimes I make my basic veggie soup twice a week in the winter with different veggies!