You know what's really tough? Keeping up your own health while also playing overseer to the health of your kids, and sometimes even your partner. It's not fun to be constantly battling with what they want versus what you know they need. And when you get run down, your fortitude weakens and you're more likely to cave into whatever - be it cereal three times a day or the latest packaged treat.
Today, I’d love to share with you a few tips for meeting your family nutrition goals with less stress.
1. Cut Out Sugar
Just stop buying it; don’t keep it in the house. Refuse to purchase packaged foods with added sugar.
This may sound extreme, but sugar is killing us! Every time you consume sugar, your immune system is compromised, and sugar creates an environment conducive to disease.
Eat naturally sweet, whole foods, instead. Avoid aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, for obvious reasons. I’d recommend you also steer clear of things like agave nectar, raw coconut sugars and other, seemingly benign alternatives. To our bodies, these are sugar.
If you must sweeten a recipe, use stevia, an herbal sweetener that is now widely available, and it doesn't spike blood sugar.
2. Offer Greens Every Day
Greens are nutritional powerhouses. They not only boost our short-term immunity, greens also contain nutrients that protect against a wide array of disease.
Even kids can learn to love greens, but they need to be on offer on a regular basis. I have a four year old who started tasting leaves when he was a baby, and he still gets really excited about a bowl of salad. It's not too late for your kids.
If you feel like you don't have time, consider this: boxed and bagged salads are amazing; you can wilt spinach in a few minutes flat; and nutrient-dense leaf powders, like SuperLeaf Moringa, make it easy to get greens with water, juice, or in a smoothie.
3. Make It All About Nutrient-Density
There are a lot of intricacies to nutrition, and potentially a lot of rules. But it doesn't need to be that way. You can keep it super simple by choosing foods based on how dense they are in nutrients relative to calories (the definition of nutrient density).
Dr. Joel Fuhrman argues that today, most of us subsist on foods that are high-cal, low-nutrition, and we need to flip that equation. We need to choose foods that deliver more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other micronutrients, and fewer of our staples, like pasta, bread, cheese, and even meat - foods that deliver mostly calories, fat and protein.
Start by incorporating at least one nutrient-dense food into every meal. Check out the chart on this page for some sample nutrient-density scores. You can see at a glance which foods top the charts, and which you should eat in moderation (hint: the low scoring foods).
If it seems like a lot to change, pick one of the three that you can implement now. Get comfortable with the first change. Feel the thrill of mastery when you pass through discomfort to a place where you know the habit is ingrained.
Then, choose another change. Repeat the process until you look back at this list and laugh. It will seem so elementary, someday. You’ll have moved on to advanced health practices, like sprouting and fermenting and daily family headstands.
Ok, that may be going too far! But, I promise that if you adopt these three practices, you’ll see major results in your family’s health.
It doesn’t matter if you’re married to a die-hard junk foodie, if your kids are addicted to sugar and refuse veggies, these changes are totally possible. Taste buds adapt more quickly than you’d think. Recipes on the internet abound. You may need to build some new skills in the kitchen, but if you make it a priority, you’ll find it’s easier to become a healthy chef than it is to be sick, or to play nurse.
These philosophies are what guide our Organics 4 Orphans work. Check out International Director Dale Bolton's YouTube videos, our O4O Facebook page, and the www.organics4orphans.org website to find out how some of our friends in Africa are getting healthy with simple changes, like these.