I was talking to someone a few weeks ago, and she was asking me about how I managed to have a teenage boy and live a mostly grain-free lifestyle. After all, she said, kids live on chips and crackers and goldfish, and there would be so much that they could not have.
“So much they could not have…”
This just seemed so overwhelmingly negative to her that it became paralyzing. But taken in small steps, change can be done:
- Determine what it is that you really want to do – You cannot just say that you want to eat better. What is it that you really want to do? More veggies and fruits and less processed stuff? Lower unhealthy fats? Eliminate gluten or grains or soy or dairy? You have to have a destination in mind before you start the journey.
““`For me, it was to better fuel what I was doing in CrossFit. If you have ever lived through a CrossFit workout with a name, you know you are working your tail end off to get through that thing in one piece. It seems completely counterproductive to then drive to a restaurant, dive face first into a basket of chips, and then proceed to eat your way through a combination plate. That does not fuel what I am trying to do. I had to get a grip and make better choices, as did my son, who started CrossFit about a month after I did.
2. Shift your focus – Don’t get in the mindset of what you cannot have. People making any kind of change tend to focus on what they cannot have, as opposed to opening a whole new world of what they can have. As soon as you say that you can no longer eat waffle fries, your car automatically will go immediately to Chick-Fil-A and you will get the large sized waffle fries. Start looking at what you can have, and make the most of it.
But seriously, do take a good look at your pantry and fridge. Get the food out of there that you know will be a problem for you. Don’t keep it around because your kids might want it. That just sets you up. Keep your pantry and fridge a positive place.
3. Keep it positive – Keep your own attitude toward change very positive. You are doing this for all of the right reasons. Let the Negative Nellies of life say what they want, and you just keep doing the right thing for you and your family.
4. Don’t try to do it all at once – This can get overwhelming. Try to go one day at a time, one meal at a time. Make better choices each meal or snack, and they will add up.
5. Get the kids involved – That is how I got my son on board. As I stopped buying cereal and pop tarts, he had to figure out something else to eat for breakfast. I told him to google it, and he found his recipe.
“Mom, can I really have chili for breakfast? I found a recipe for breakfast chili!”
Sure, why not?
And from that point, he was hooked. If he can find the recipe, we can make it. The interesting thing is that his friends now are trying to sneak parts of his lunch when he is not looking. I think he lost and entire baggie of grain-free crackers one day when he got up to fill his water bottle.
You can also have your kids help with meal planning and preparation, let them coordinate or cook some of their own meals and snacks, or let them pick a new fruit or veggie at the grocery store to try that week.
There are also a TON of healthy living kid friendly websites out there. Google it. You will be amazed at the resources available to you.
6. Make it fun for everyone – Get some fun baggies or containers for the lunches. Make fruit skewers together and have a luau while eating them. Make your own football or baseball stadium out of veggies and dip and eat them during the game. Make faces with pizza toppings when you make home-made pizzas. Get creative with smoothies. Have some fun!
7. Understand that this will never be perfect – This is a process, and there will be days that things just do not go as planned. This is not an elimination game, and that is not your final answer. You are not done. You should not give up. You should just pick up from where you left off and get going again.
Don’t give in to the thought process of “Well, I’ve messed it up now, so I might as well go ahead and finish that entire cake/meal/or whatever…” Don’t. Just don’t. You are only punishing yourself further for making a bad choice. And one of those can lead to several more and the feelings of failure that come with it. Get started making good choices again.
Most of all, realize that one thought, one choice, on step at a time, it can be done…even with kids in the house.