One of the biggest challenges for adults, and families is how to incorporate “real food” into their daily routine. So many people have been raised on packages, bags and quick grabs. That includes running through a drive through, or walking up to a sub shop and taking something in a bag home. Snacks are often easy things in bags to grab or pack – see what can happen with snacking when it goes wrong here.
If you need your kids, and yourself to transition to eating real whole food daily to fix digestion, help with ADD/ADHD, autism or even immune issues and infections there are some very simple ways to make it easy for your kids (and yourself!).
1- Remove all the bags and boxes from your house.
There is absolutely no other way to start this process than eliminating these items from your home. If you have a processed snack, and it is easy to grab – you and your kids will choose it every single time over a real food. These “foods” are engineered to make you do so, as well as a busy society where we work work work and have little time to focus on other things.
When we remove these items we will HAVE to eat something else. We will also only then choose to eat when we are hungry, versus just snacking because it is convenient and we have been trained to just do it. Do not worry, we aren’t going without food. This is just the first step of this process.
2- Add in easy to grab WHOLE FOODS
This is where we need to start to think about what is convenient or liked about what our family is already eating. Are we buying those snacks because they are easy to pop into a lunch bag, or it is something that lights up our taste buds? Either way – we need to think about that and then find the WHOLE FOOD equivalent.
Here are some easy grab and go whole foods:
Oranges (do require some skill or if the child is young a prep ahead for them)
Many other fruits!
Cheese (if going with a stick be sure you read the ingredients and it is ONLY cheese and not other additives and chemicals). Learn more about food labels here.
Yogurt (be sure to read your ingredients again to be sure it’s just the milk, cream and probiotics and NO SUGAR OR OTHER ADDITIVES)
Nuts – all kinds
Hard Boiled eggs (you may need to peel them for younger kids)
There are some healthy baking options as well if you enjoy that. You would look at baking alternatives to traditional white flours, and sugars. You can make these items as staples in a lunch (like a biscuit or homemade bread from healthy baking sources), or as snacks.
3- Be sure your whole food items are visible and reachable in your kitchen
The best thing for you and your family is to have your food items right out where the kids can grab them when they are hungry. Many of the fruits are easily left right on the counter. You can put together small containers of nuts for the kids, so they can easily grab those and take those when hungry. The refrigerated items can be made into small single servings as well. Then they can open and grab them when they want them. It only takes a few minutes to prep those small single servings.
4 – Prepare ahead certain items to make them a grab and go item.
Not every item will lend itself to a direct grab and go, but MANY vegetables (which are lacking in nearly everyone’s diet that I meet), can easily be made into single servings with small dips as a nice treat for kids.
Yogurt based, or sour cream based dips are delicious treats to have with some crunchy veggies like carrots, or celery, cucumbers or peppers. Your child might even enjoy the natural taste without dip. I will even send sauce in a small container with the lunch for the vegetables or pre-cooked meats.
You may be able to find some pre-packaged items that are healthier with real food ingredients, and if so you could include those. But the biggest thing that most children are missing is fruits, vegetables and whole food snacks. The majority of diets are based on snack items that are all additives, chemicals and no nutritional value what-so-ever. Most parents are completely unaware that these items are making up that much of their child’s diet, and that they are not healthy for them, and most times are the MAIN culprit of their child’s issues.
When it comes to meals:
Most children will enjoy easy lunch items that are all pieces. Like a luncheable, but all real healthy food. The processed “meats” and “cheese” in the standard store brand are full of chemicals and additives. Making your own is pleasing and is easy.
Dinner is an adjustment for the whole family. Knowing that you will have to use the real food items, with a daily plan falls onto you. But making items that look similar to the items you used to serve is a good transition to real food. Making the items recognizable and easy to understand is important when moving to a real food dinner. This is another area where ripping off the bandaid is the better approach, like removing all the packages, you just need to stop providing frozen nuggets and pizzas or meals. Do not buy them, and move right into real food. You will be surprised at how quickly children eat something different. Sticking with it and insisting they try the parts of the meal is very important. It may take many times of trying before it becomes a regularly eaten item. That is normal.
Keeping pre-cooked meats they love on hand is important. You may find that you have them try a new meat, but it isn’t their favorite but salmon is. So I like to have an extra 3 filets on hand that I have cooked with our dinner. If he chooses to opt out (after trying) he will have one of those healthy filets. Making these foods the easy and only option helps us all stick to a real food plan.
Have any special tips with your real food and family? Share.