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healthy mom, healthy kids

A semi-viral blog post recently came to my attention. It all started because I mother found the list below from her 7 year old and had a bit of a fit, feeling that her daughter had succumbed to society's evil body images, had developed an unhealthy body image, and her rant on society for teaching about body images.

In her own words, "Where did she learn the word diet? How does she even know what a freaking diet is? Whose fault is this?"

 "...F*ck you society. F*ck you and your and stupid obsession with women and the way they look. How dare you sneak into my home with your ridiculous standards and embed them in my little girls head, polluting her innocence with your pathetic ideals. Jog/run up and down the driv way three times. Your unrealistic expectations will not win in my house."
 View the whole post here.
Hmmm. Where did she learn the word diet? Obviously not from her mother.

I think I am as frustrated with the comments on the post as I am with the mother. Regardless, I won't go on an anger rant.

At my house, we talk about diet. We talk about exercising. My kids watch me lift weights at home 3-4 times a week. Sometimes they participate. One of my boys will pick up a 5lb weight and wiggle it around. The other will try yoga moves or do jump-knees, exclaiming he's "going to be the fastest biker ever!"

I try to be as open as possible with the kids about why I/we do things the way we do. I explain why Mom won't buy them normal hot dogs, lunch meats, or bacon. I am firm with my response that they can't have school lunches, but we can try to bring school lunch menu items from home. I don't go into depth about nitrates and nitrites or MSG or other food additives, I know at age 4 and 6 that's a little too much, but I let them know that there are ingredients that we don't eat because even if they don't make us sick right now, that it could later on, especially if they eat too much of it.

After a long run last week, I came home and had a recovery snack of cashews and raw honey. My younger son, who's 4, had a conversation with me:
"Mom, you better not eat too much honey. You'll get fat."
"Fish, honey is nature's candy." 
"Yeah, and you can't have too much candy either."
"Why would it be bad to be fat?"
"Well, you couldn't run as fast, you might get sick. Maybe you would trip and fall. But I bet you would get sick."

Is this a negative body image? I don't think so. Like the little girl's post above, body image and appearance is nowhere to be found. My kids don't care about big muscles or appearances. They care about the restrictions being an unhealthy weight would place on them, not what others would think about how they look.

The same 4 year old son came to me out of concern. "Ashley (babysitter with name changed) give me the unhealthy kind of hot dogs for lunch. Can you pack me a lunch? A HEALTHY lunch? Sometimes her food gives me a tummy ache."

So the question I get ALL the time is "how do you get your kids and/or husband to eat so healthy?"

Well, step 1. Stop buying the crap you don't want anyone to eat. If it's not in the house, no one will be eating it. Ladies, if your husband does the grocery shopping, I don't know how to help you on that one. I am in charge of all of the grocery shopping, will buy whatever I want, with the knowledge that if I go $1 over our tight budget there will be a war.

Step 2: Everyone eats the good stuff. It's a rule at my house that every meal is accompanied by a fruit or vegetable (or both) and the boys aren't excused from the table until it's gone. Obviously for bigger meals these servings are scaled down for their size, 4 little carrots, half a banana, 4 apple slices, etc.  They don't have to eat what I made for dinner, but they're not allowed anything else until their veggies are gone. Anytime they want a snack they can have an apple, banana, or carrots. Occasionally I'll let them have nuts to snack on. We're to the point that they now know to not ask for anything else, because they know the answer will be no.

Step 3: Education. Educate yourself. Educate your family. I try not to overwhelm anyone with all of my eating OCDs, but on occasions I'll make a comment, and if asked, I'll explain. (We all know I hate the maltodextrin GUs...) There are times where my husband will suggest buying something (because it's cheaper than what I want.) My response? "Well, organic spinach has 5x the iron content of the regular spinach. See the nutrition labels? We don't eat much iron-rich meat, so I'd prefer the organic one." or other times (like with those white tortillas that have 9,000 ingredients) "sure we can get that, but I won't touch it." He now just tries to avoid the grocery stores. I don't blame him. My kids still come with me. They ask, "Is this healthy?" most times before they ask if they can get it.

Step 4: Budget. Why does it matter? I think that the larger the budget, the more apt we are to buy easy-to-fix processed foods. Bigger budgets allow for organic, low additive junk food. Things like organic fried local fish, organic pita crackers that still have 50 ingredients, etc. There's no such thing as whole-wheat french fries, so don't buy them. (Family joke...) But really, stick to a budget. I am able to feed our family of 4 on our budget of $400/month. I count as a second hungry man because I eat so much, so you could say 5. :) Perpetually the last few days of the month all we have left to eat is homemade pinto beans with rice, quinoa, and frozen organic kale mixed in, but at least I can be confident that my family is only eating things that help their body. Which brings me to the last step...

Step 5: follow the Golden Rule of food: Everything you're eating is either helping or harming your body, so eat the things that help. Remember this. Think of it when you prepare meals. Teach it to your children. You'd be surprised at how much, even at a young age, they want to take care of their bodies. Of course my boys love candy, beg for McDonalds ice cream, and will eat junk food with limited reluctance. At the same token, the recognize how they feel after eating bad food, ask me all the time if certain things are healthy or not, and occasionally follow through on what I taught them when I'm not around. TREATS are a TREAT, i.e. something they can have a couple of times a month, not a couple of times a week or a couple of times a day.

I could make this an educational post about what needs to be organic, what doesn't matter as much, foods for weight loss, foods for whole health, additives that cause cancer, etc. But personal research and responsibility I think is one of the biggest parts of a whole-health journey.

Now, if I could just get my kids to stop leaving toothpaste all over the counter everyday....

**NOTE: I didn't touch on this much, but the title is healthy mom; healthy kids. You need to take care of yourself Mom's! You are worth it! Your kids may fight you on the lifestyle changes, but then they will thank you.


  1. We aren't food nazis, but we eat healthy too. Our kids love salad and beans and veggies - their teachers and peers at school are shocked that I send them to school with tons of veggies (they love cucs and bell peppers best) without ranch AND THEY EAT THEM!! My mom doesn't understand why when she stocks her freezer with frozen entres (shudder) the kids don't like them and won't eat them. Caleb won't eat cake at parties because he says it isn't healthy, and Lina often asks "does this have too much sugar?" before accepting a snack from an outside source. Sure, I indulge in In-N-Out on occasion and my kids like mac'n cheese and nitrate-filled hot dogs too. I think the key to healthy eating is to be consistent and set a good example. You're right: healthy mom = healthy kids :)


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