Helping Children Get Healthy
It took a while to find my family-friendly routine because my foods also had to be affordable, have a long shelf life, and be easy to prepare.
Author: Gunda Siska
There was a time when I was NOT very attentive to what my children ate. I worked a lot at the hospital and they spent a lot of time at grandma’s house. She ended up feeding them mostly happy foods, such as candy, pizza, burgers, milk shakes, and stuff like that.
It wasn’t long before one of my sons was overweight. He had a genetic predisposition to gain weight very easily and had a healthy appetite for food. This became apparent when my sons were very young. They are actually twins and when they were babies, Jerred, the one with the healthy appetite for food, would take the baby bottle out of his twin brother’s mouth and put it in his mouth. His twin brother, Marshall, couldn’t care less. He would let Jerred take his baby bottle. Food did not interest Marshall the same way it interested Jerred.
It wasn’t before long before Jerred was obese. I could see how his health was becoming a downward spiral in his life. He didn’t look happy in any of his pictures.
It’s heartbreaking that this happened and, of course, as a mother I blamed myself. I wasn’t present physically or mentally for him like I should have been. I decided to step up to the plate and get involved. I decided to forgive myself for allowing this to happen. I decided to chalk everything up as a big life lesson (more on that later).
I started cooking more and teaching him and his brother about food. He was motivated to get healthy and the time was right for change.
We started out with a very simple plan: whole foods only. Whole foods are mainly meats and veggies, but also fruit and nuts.
I also told them stuff like: The more vegetables you eat, the longer you will live. Vegetables and other whole foods deliver the perfect amounts of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
I told them sugar was the devil. I told them that glucose had a very similar chemical structure to vitamin C and that these two compounds competed for activity in the body. If you ate too much sugar, you would become sick and age prematurely.
I explained portion control and how if people ate until they were 80 percent full, they lived longer than the people who ate until they were 100 percent full
I showed them pictures on the internet of animals that had been allowed to eat all that they wanted compared with animals that were fed a calorie restricted diet.
The animals that were allowed to eat all that they wanted had matted fur and other characteristics to make it appear that they were older and sicker. I told them if that if they wanted to age well, they had to learn portion control and the benefits of fasting.
I also lead by example and it was natural for them to copy me—sort of. I love salads and could eat them three times of day, but they didn’t like salads as much. I had to find healthy foods that they liked.
It took a while to find my family-friendly routine because my foods also had to be affordable, have a long shelf life, and be easy to prepare. I am always looking for foods that are natural, whole, healthy, easy, and affordable. Few foods fall into this category, but I do my best zone in on these foods.
Apples and peanut butter are great. I buy the Fuji apples that are consistently sweet, keep them in the fridge, and then slice them into crispy wedges that can be dipped into peanut butter. I also serve them with almond and cashew butter because they don’t have lectin (more on that later). Sometimes I add honey to the peanut butter to make the snack more enticing.
Frozen berries and fruit smoothies are also great. I make them with a protein powder and I consider these smoothies “preventative eating.” If we consume a smoothie in the morning then we are less likely to eat sugary, processed foods throughout the day. When smoothies are done right, they can stabilize blood sugar and help us take control of our appetite and make great food choices throughout the day.
I also enjoy teas. I have an ongoing collection of various types and flavors. I have fun tea pots and natural sweeteners to make the whole tea time experience uplifting and fun. Tea time is around 2 to 4 pm, and that is my healthy version of “happy hour” that I can spend with my children.
I also make cold teas during the summertime and I serve the ice tea in beautiful glassware. It’s a morale booster and it gives me the will to carry on throughout the day.
I am happy to say that Jerred is now 15 years old and very healthy and athletic. I hope that Jerred never forgets what it was like being obese. I hope that experience gives him kindness and compassion for other people with similar struggles. I hope that experience makes him a more loving human being.
If you enjoyed this blog, please leave me a comment and let me know. I can share more of my recipes and family hacks with you if you want.
I’m wishing everyone in the Mom’s group, great health, happiness and success in all areas of life.