10 Best Healthy Foods We Are Not Eating
When we shop at the market or go to a restaurant our first thought is to get food we like to eat and know. There are several foods out there that do not often make it into the shopping cart.
We always think that we don’t want that or don’t have time to fix that, but the reality is it doesn’t take any more time to prepare a well balanced and nutritious meal than going to the drive through and getting something unhealthy when you calculate the time it takes to get through a line of ten cars or ten people in the restaurant.
Below you will find a list of ten foods you should be eating and reasons why.
Healthy Food #1 – Beets
The first item on the list is beets. Yeah, I know. I’m not one for beets either, but if you pick up a fresh beet from the supermarket rather than the can you will be getting a better taste as well as a healthy food. The beet is like red spinach it offers you a great source of folate and betaine. These are two nutrients that can help you lower your blood levels and decrease your risk of heart disease. Sounds pretty good right?
Healthy Food #2 – Cabbage
Cabbage is another source of great vitamins and you don’t just have to through it in a salad. You can put cabbage on burgers, eat it in coleslaw, or even Asian style cabbage in your next Chinese dinner dish. Cabbage is just 22 calories of food and contains so many vitamins, it is one of the reason those on an Asian or European diet are healthier. You will find that cabbage contains sulforaphane, which helps boost your immunity to breast cancer. There are many healthy foods that can actually help us fight disease, so you may want to start eating a few.
Healthy Food #3 – Guava
Guava is not a very popular fruit in some cultures, but it is one of the best fruits to take. Guava contains lycopene, which is an antioxidant that fights prostate cancer. You will find that tomatoes and watermelon have some of the lycopene, but it isn’t as much as guava. Guava actually has a sweeter flavor than other fruits. It is less acidic so it usually goes down great. For those who can’t handle oranges or pineapple this is a pretty great treat. You can eat the fruit plain, make a juice, or have a fruit bowl with bananas and other fruits that also offer you some great nutrients.
Healthy Food #4 – Swiss Chard
Swiss Chard is not a popular item by any means, but again it is very healthy for you. Swiss Chard is a leafy green, which is found in the Mediterranean. You will find that this particular plant contains lutein and zeaxanthin along with carotenoids that help with your eyesight. The carotenoids help reduce the damage of aging to the retinas. This particular plant is good with steak or chicken after it has been steamed.
Healthy Food #5 – Cinnamon
Who doesn’t love cinnamon? Surprisingly many of us don’t get enough cinnamon. You don’t have to have cinnamon in a cinnamon roll, but you can certainly add it to many recipes. It is a great way to help reduce your blood sugar and the risk of heart disease. You can just sprinkle it on oatmeal or even in your coffee depending on what you like most.
Healthy Food #6 – Purslane
Purslane is a vegetable found in Mexico, China, and Greece among other countries. It is a broad leaved weed. You will find this edible plant has more melatonin in it than other fruits and vegetables. This means that you will have an antioxidant in your body that naturally reduces the risk of cancer. Most often this purslane is found among salads.
Healthy Food #7 – Pomegranate
Going back to juices for a minute you will find that the pomegranate juice is one of the most highly recommended juices to purchase. Everyone used to drink orange juice, but now it is pomegranate juice. The pomegranate juice regulates your body, by offering more energy as well as helping to reduce blood pressure. 4 ounces of pomegranate juices provides 50 percent of your daily vitamin C needs as well.
Healthy Food #8 – Goji Berries
Goji Berries is another great fruit to help you reduce the risk of disease; specifically you will help reduce the likelihood of having diabetes when you eat these berries. The Goji Berries are a medical food from Tibet. They have been around for more than 1700 years. You will find that they have an antioxidant that helps reduce diabetes because it offers a way to reduce insulin resistance. You can eat them as a juice, plain, or with yogurt.
Healthy Food #9 – Plums
Plums, especially dried plums which are prunes are another healthy source of food. Prunes offer chlorogenic acid, and antioxidants that are able to reduce the risk of cancer. You will find that prunes are also a great help in regulating the body if you suffer from constipation. You can eat the prunes by themselves or sprinkle them over a prosciutto and back for a few minutes.
Healthy Food #10 – Pumpkin Seeds
The last item on the list is the pumpkin seeds. While we just think about pumpkin seeds during Halloween in most cases you will find that they are a great source of natural minerals our bodies need. They contain magnesium as well as antioxidants. Pumpkin seeds can help reduce the risk of cancer in that they provide more oxygen to your cells and there is less damage. They can usually be found near the peanuts or almonds in a store.
A webmaster of Healthy Lifestyle Blogzine. This blogzine provides a combination of factors to maintain good health – from eating healthy food to exercising regularly, loosing weight to being smoke-free, getting sufficient sleep to taking time to de-stress. It also features some latest and up to date health news.
If Your Positive Intention Determines Your Well-Being, Then Why Do You Need Healthy Food?
Have you ever wondered why positive intention doesn’t replace the need for healthy food? There are those who insist that they do not wish to be restricted by health food beliefs and practices. They say that it is only necessary to intend and picture health. Well, there is something to that, because aligning with a positive outcome sets the vibration for where you’re headed, but it brings up an intriguing question…
If everything is only the result of intention, this suggests that there is no difference between organic food compared to non-organic, artificial junk food. Is the only difference between these types of food your beliefs about them?
Like many popular metaphysical ideas, the principle that intention is everything has some validity, and like many metaphysical ideas, it can become overly simplified so as to become unbalanced. What is the origin of this idea that intention is everything?
The concept that everything is Mind is an ancient, worldwide understanding. At first, the idea that everything is mind seems straightforward and obvious. But when you examine this notion, it could mean a number of things… Is everything an expression of Divine Mind, or does it mean that everything is caused by your personal thoughts? And though there is certainly a relationship between your thoughts and your reality, it brings up a question…
Did you, personally, create everything in the universe? Let’s assume here that you did not create everything. That means that someone, or something did. Or if you have something to do with the creation of the universe, you are a co-creator. In other words, you are not entirely responsible for the creation of the universe. Now what is the connection between recognizing this, and making healthy food choices?
If you assume that the universe was created with divine intelligence, and that everything can potentially be an expression of that divine intelligence, then there must be principles that are in alignment with that sacred universe. And that means that there are principles in our lives — choices that we make – that bring us into alignment with this divine intelligence that permeates the universe. And this is where the healthy food connection comes in…
Natural food is in alignment with the intelligence that created this universe, because the divine mind that conceived the universe, and everything in it, is a living intelligence. It is involved with every aspect of the universe that it created. In other words, positive intention is not merely what you think, but also how you live in each moment. Your lifestyle choices, including your food choices, can put you in deeper alignment with divine mind.
That means that those who claim that they have transcended the need for healthy choices, because they can simply intend good health, are making a rather big claim. They are suggesting that they can override divine mind with their own intentions. And they are suggesting, as well, that they are separate from this divine creation, and separate from divine mind. After all, if you don’t need to be in alignment with this creation, then you are making the grandiose claim that you have transcended being part of this universe.
Mind, it would seem, includes your thoughts, but also includes much more. And this brings up the fascinating notion that if this universe were created by a cosmic mind of vast proportion, there must be some of that universal mind within everything it created. And that would include your body as an element of the universal mind. It would include your emotions, your mind — everything that exists.
How, then, could you ever think yourself into a space beyond universal laws? Remember that thoughts alone cannot put you above and beyond the universe. Thoughts can be a means, though, to discover your deep alignment with the universe.
This is because your body, like your mind and your emotions, are all expressions of divine consciousness. And your body, emotions, and mind are all in harmony, like a musical chord, or like a rainbow of colors — in resonance with themselves, and with the universe as well.
This is why claiming to override body requirements for healthy food with so-called mind power is absurd. It would merely create a non-harmonious condition in which body and mind are in conflict.
But what about those sincere health enthusiasts who are only preoccupied with getting the right nutrients? How is their situation related to issues of harmony between body, emotions, and mind?
Look at what happens when you are preoccupied with having the right nutrients, at the expense of being in touch with your emotions, and aware of your thoughts. Isn’t this curiously similar to those who are heedless in their food choices, and yet preoccupy themselves with holding positive thoughts?
Both these imbalanced attitudes are based on the belief that they have found the one special way of being in control of reality — in one case nutritious food is all you need, and in the other case, positive thoughts are all you need.
People experiencing these two extremes — mind over body, versus body over mind — tend to look at each other as being miles apart, when in fact they are uniquely similar. What is the remedy for this division? You can look at everything as an expression of divine mind, since it was originally created by divine mind. But whoops, this brings up a question worth exploring…
If everything is an expression of divine mind, how does that explain a sugar-coated devitalized piece of junk food? That wasn’t created by divine mind, was it? Well no, junk food wasn’t created by divine mind. And how is such a lower vibration non-food to be understood?
Junk food is out of alignment with the original pattern for food. And so, it is out of alignment with divine mind. When you participate with junk food, you are resonating with something that is out of alignment with the universe. Now there is an interesting argument here, that many positive thinkers will bring up, and it is this. They will suggest that even if junk food is out of alignment, their positive thoughts can bring harmony to the junk food. Could that be true?
Like many metaphysical beliefs, there is some truth to this. You can, in fact, to some degree, raise the vibration of junk food. And if you find yourself in a situation where you are eating food that does not express the highest vibrations that you might prefer, then it is certainly to your advantage to do some energy healing practices on that food. But even better, it is in your highest good if you start with healthy food in the first place.
This is because when food is in closer alignment with the universal order, it is carrying the pattern of divine mind more fully. And so your choice to participate with healthy foods is a form of positive thinking — grounded positive thinking — expressed through your physical body, on this earth plane. And this is why the notion that you could eat whatever you wish, and simply compensate with positive affirmations or prayers, is an unbalanced notion about reality.
But does this mean, as some claim, that your beliefs and choices for a healthy lifestyle are creating unnecessary restrictions for you?
A concern arises in many people’s minds that if they become interested in healthy food, or healthy lifestyles, then they will become limited. Well, if choosing to be in alignment with the universe leads to making some choices, you could, I suppose, call that a limitation.
But where does the idea come from that freedom means having no alignments or principles? Again, it comes from the idea that mind is somehow separate from the universe, as if the lofty mind is floating above reality like a cloud and looking down on the limited world.
When you make healthy choices, you are coming into alignment with the universe. How does that work? You are made of universal substance, and your soul was created by divine mind. So you are an expression of that divine mind, and your healthy choices are a reflection of this recognition.
But you were also created with an entirely unique pattern, called your soul signature. Yet, unique though you are, you are still an expression of this universe, and this intelligently divine universe is made of positive patterns — higher truth, you could call it. Alignment with this higher truth requires you to discover healthy principles of living. And these healthy principles call for you to make distinctions between things — making choices.
When you practice making healthy choices, you are limiting yourself, it is true, but that is not a bad thing in itself. Every time you bring yourself into alignment with your deeper truth, though you are limiting yourself in a way, you are also creating freedom for your self as well. You are liberating your body, mind, and soul to express your divine truth. It is like tuning a musical instrument, or cleansing a window so the light can shine through.
Healthy choices are not a limitation. The idea that freedom, in and of itself, is an entirely good thing, is based on a lofty mental view of reality. The mind, at that higher abstract level, can think of anything. And that is its job. It thinks, it conceives, it creates, it discovers, and it experiments. And this is good. However, the lofty mind is tempered with the common sense that comes from aligning these thoughts with the grounded common-sense of the body, and the eternal wisdom of the soul.
Your mind is a divine creation, but so is your body, and so is your soul. That is why the arrogant viewpoint that positive thinking can over-ride bad lifestyle choices is not in alignment. Your body, your mind, and your soul are working together, because they are actually expressions of the same thing — your Self.
Your true self is a multidimensional creation, and all its parts affect each other. You can no more pretend that junk food affecting the body is OK, than you can pretend that mind-altering drugs affecting the clarity of your perception are somehow acceptable.
If junk food lowers your body vibration, then it is going to affect your thinking. That is because your mind is not an abstract thingy floating around somewhere. Your mind is a coherent field of energy located in the same space of your physical body. Your mental body is on a finer frequency than your physical body, but body and mind are located in the same place, resonating with each other.
Junk food is going to affect the quality and clarity of your emotions, as well. Your emotional body is a higher frequency than your physical body, but it too is located where your physical body is located. So if you eat junk food, while claiming that you are a positive person, you are expressing a contradiction. This is why many holistic practitioners carefully explore the link between your emotional states and your food choices.
Of course, there are those who have been so fragmented for so many years that they claim that they have no trouble functioning on a diet of junk food and recreational drugs. Perhaps they have somehow learned to compensate for these divisions within themselves, but they are working at a disadvantage, and are fooling themselves. They have compartmentalized themselves by disassociating their awareness from their painful emotions, and by disconnecting from the imbalances in their body. They are holding these fragments together with a clever mind that floats above it all, proclaiming itself to be beyond the need for a healthy lifestyle.
How do you respond when you encounter people who insist that they can exclusively create well-being through diet and exercise only? How do you respond when you encounter people who laugh at the idea of being concerned with alignment and well-being? And how do you respond when you encounter positive thinkers who address everything by putting a positive thinking spin on it?
Observe people, and let them educate you. Look at how, at least in certain ways, they have accessed some of the truth. And sense, as well, how they may have created a division or limitation within themselves. This can lead you to make your own inner inquiry — ask yourself how you can come into deeper alignment with your own universal truth, through an honest exploration of your own body, your emotions, your thoughts, and your soul.
Your unique soul essence was created from a universal creator, and that creator is, itself, continually evolving — it is not in a state of final perfection. What does this suggest about you? You, too, must be in a condition of continual evolution, because you are made of that ever-evolving consciousness.
And that is one reason why there is no simple solution of merely repeating positive affirmations or prayers, or merely finding the one perfect combination of nutrients. Continual evolution suggests self-inquiry, at every level of your being, and it invites you to discover your way through life through continual exploration. And this seems like work, and it may well be. But though it takes persistence, it is not a dreary thing.
This is because your daily evolution, as it unfolds to reveal its splendor, is a continual field of opportunities where your higher potential grows and manifests. And to do this, you are seeking the ways that you can be in alignment with the universe. Wouldn’t it be easy if you could find the simple laws of life, and just follow them? Many experts, whether religious teachers or nutritional specialists, claim that they have the simple laws for you to follow, but their suggestions tend to be overly simplistic, and to follow a one-size-fits-all approach.
Why can’t it be that easy? To understand why life is a continual discovery that requires your daily inquiry, and not a convenient set of automatic affirmations or magic nutrients, recall how you are an entirely unique expression of the divine creator. Even though your choice to eat healthfully, for example, can bring you into greater divine alignment, everyone has a different biochemistry, and so there is no one healthy diet that fits everyone.
In metaphysics, there is no one religion, teaching, or method that is suited to everyone. And that is why it is always amusing, and somewhat sad, when idealistically religious folks insist that they have the one perfect spiritual solution. And their health-minded brethren, who religiously insist that everybody should follow their favorite dietary practice, are expressing the same narrow understanding. But if there is no one rule to follow, does that mean that anything goes, or that everything is expressing a valid understanding?
It seems contradictory… First, you notice that everyone has their own unique dietary requirements. But, at the same time, you recognize that there are basic health principles to follow. Well, which is it?
Is everyone free to create their own diet as they choose, or are they limited by higher healthy principles? There is no contradiction, because both of these understandings work together. And that is why the choices that some individuals might prefer to make, such as a sugar-coated doughnut diet, for example, are not likely to be in higher alignment for anyone at all.
A book that teaches the sensible concept that you require a unique diet, based on your distinctive biochemistry, is The Metabolic Typing Diet. This is one of the few agenda-free dietary practices you will encounter. Though it shows you how to discover your own uniquely appropriate diet, you can be certain that the amazing sugar-coated doughnut diet will not be included.
This is true freedom… You realize that your dietary requirements are unique. And you can bring yourself into greater universal alignment through your healthy choices. The delightful freedom to be yourself, while also discovering your unity with the greater cosmos, gives you the wonderful feeling that you are being true to yourself.
You are entirely unique, and yet you are entirely one with the universe. That’s a vital understanding, because everything in the world tends to pull you towards agreeing with something or someone else. And the world does that because that makes things simpler for everyone. But simpler isn’t better. It’s just easier for everyone else because then they won’t have to confront the unique example that you provide.
There is always some dynamic tension between any two different things, be they people, groups, ideas, styles, or anything else. Dynamic tension need not be bad or uncomfortable. It could even create interesting chemistry. So what do you think is going to happen when you discover, through your inquiries within, how to live your truth?
The deepest truth for you — such as your ideal food choices that serve your highest good — are never going to be in perfect alignment with everyone else. And this is not a problem, because your truth is your special contribution to this earth experience. The same is true for your spiritual life — it is an expression of you that contributes to the world. Your soul, your mind, your very presence shares your own particular vibration. You are not supposed to be in full agreement with everyone, because your contribution to the highest good is to be your own unique self.
When you realize that you can never fit into anyone’s perfect diet, perfect lifestyle, and perfect spiritual teaching, because no one can fit into such patterns, then you can be free. But, free to do what? There is higher alignment available for you, and it is not a random thing, because your higher alignment is in resonance with your true self. It is not freedom for freedom’s sake, nor is it a set of restrictive laws. Your truth transcends these extremes…
Your truth follows the highest understandings, and you will find these from many sources. Your ideal diet is actually a combination of various diets — validated by your own experiences in daily life. And just as your dietary understandings may shift and evolve over time, your ideal spiritual practice may evolve over time, and it may be comprised of various teachings.
What about those sincere people who warn you that eclectic, multifaceted spiritual practices aren’t real? The fear about your diversified spiritual practice comes from those who have the overly-simplistic perception that you should be defined by one category — that you must be of This or That specific religion or teaching. There is no such thing — you are not a This or a That category — except in the narrow world of their linear mind. You are you, the eternal, the unique, and the ever-evolving being.
You are not your mind, but through the window of your mind you can create, invent, and examine deeper realities. All these are available when you utilize the powers of your mind.
You are not your emotions, but through the doorway of your emotions you can know yourself on many amazing levels and feel connected with yourself, with people, and with the universe. All these are available when you utilize the powers of your emotions.
You are not your body, but through the vehicle of your body you can experience your emotions, your thoughts, and even your soul and the universe. All these are available when you utilize the powers of your body.
You are not even your soul, though you do, of course, have an eternal soul, and that soul is, even now, shining forth from within your body. Through the presence and consciousness of your soul, you can know what you are…
Well then — what are you?
You are the eternal divine universe — and you are a particular and distinctive expression of that ultimate reality, unlike anyone else. As your understandings evolve, you will uncover, each day, more about your appropriate diet, about your spiritual practice, and about how you can move into deeper alignment with your highest truth, so that you can make a difference for others through your aligned presence.
Although there are no simplistic solutions, when you do discover something that is in alignment with your deeper truth, it will have a simple quality to it. Your truth can feel as if the still small voice within you is whispering the truth to you, and you are quietly smiling and nodding in agreement. It’s not something you can force, and it’s not going to happen when you try to fit into anyone else’s program.
Your truth is a sacred experience between you and the universe. Keep exploring, because it is an ever-evolving understanding, like a river that is never exactly the same from moment to moment. Don’t grab onto it. Let your body, your emotions, your thoughts, and your soul find truth by letting yourself resonate with it, layer by layer.
Feel your way forward — think your way forward — move forward with each breath. Enter into the consciousness of your body, and find your way to yourself — and to the universe. In this moment… let yourself breathe gently into your body, and settle into the living multisensory, multidimensional sensations you discover there.
Sense that where you are, in this moment, is the center of the universe. Feel the dynamic interaction between you, in the truth of this moment, and the universe all around you, as it shares its gifts with you and embraces you. Know that at the same time, your conscious attention creates a sacred space that enhances the universe, radiating forth the truth of your being with your every breath, with your every thought, and with every spinning particle of your sacred being.
Joel Bruce Wallach
Founder, Cosmic Living for spiritual empowerment - tele-classes and home-study mp3′s
Do you have a strong desire to align with your spiritual essence? Are you wondering how you can activate your divine potential? Experienced practical mystic and teacher Joel Bruce Wallach helps you learn practical self-healing and inspiring metaphysical teachings in a centered, guided, sacred space. Live teleseminars, self-paced learning via mp3s, and inspiring articles and the transformational tips blog are available now.
I’m Joel Bruce Wallach, and I look forward to sharing step-by-step methods and insights with you, so that you can develop practical cosmic awareness, and experience your higher potential with ease and grace. Listen to mp3 samples of the teleclasses here:
Activating your cosmic consciousness is easier than you had realized, when you know how to place your awareness, and have steps to guide you. Spiritual realizations and energy healing are within your capacity, because the power is already within you. In this amazingly accelerated modern age of spiritual empowerment, self-paced learning is the key to realizing your potential. I am honored to share these step-by-step teachings with you.
Real Food, Real Kids, Real Love – 10 Surprising Ways to Raise a Healthy Eater
By Liz Snyder
Almost nothing troubles us more than what our kids will (or won’t!) eat.
Whether you fear you are raising a carb-junkie, picky eater, or veggie-phobe, the root of that parental fear is all the same: that somehow, we can CONTROL our kids’ tastes if only we have the right advice and food on hand. So then we invest: in advice books, cookbooks, kitchen gadgets (slap chop, anyone?), and most notably in our time, stress, and energy. We kill ourselves in the kitchen, guilt ourselves over ‘failures’, and chide our partners and relatives for undermining our carefully thought out-efforts. Sound familiar?
The truth is, all kids are different. Just like they mature and grow at different rates, so do their palates.
Without further ado:
10 simple truths about raising real kids who become lifelong healthy eaters
1. real kids need real food
Helen enjoying a peach at the farmer’s market
Helen enjoying a peach at the farmer’s market
Whether you’re an omnivore or a vegan, it pays to eat real with your kids. This is the part that’s pretty much covered by Michael Pollan’s new book Food Rules (you can read many here at the Huffington Post). It’s pretty simple stuff – the closer to the plant, the better the food. Raw ingredients trump processed stuff. If someone is really trying to sell it to you on TV or it’s covered in shiny plastic and cartoon characters, probably don’t buy it. If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, then don’t put it in your mouth. Red food dyes are banned in the EU for causing ADHD behaviors – yet almost everything in a crinkly package here has the stuff. ‘Nuf said.
2. real kids have nothing added
This is an idea that troubles some parents. So many moms I know spend considerable money on supplements and pride themselves on everything they sneak into their kids diets, from spinach in spaghetti sauce to protein powder in the smoothie. I’m not 100% opposed to this practice (in fact, we absolutely love to sink a bunch of beets into a pot of chili) but I want to stress that if it’s stressing you (or your pocketbook) out, it’s not worth it. After the lead-laced gummi bear vitamin scare, I’d be entirely more cautious with any supplements -although, in the interest of full disclosure, Fish Oil ‘chewies’ are a daily treat for my daughter Helen. But in the end, it’s much more about the feeling you create around food than the actual nutritional content of the food itself. So do what you can within reason, and call it a victory.
3. real kids go on ‘food jags’
For the past 4 weeks, my daughter has wanted nothing to eat but applesauce. Before that, it was hummus. Avocadoes. Gummi bears (I don’t like to talk about those days). From toddlerhood onward, food jags are a normal part of childhood. Many psychologists believe it is a child’s way of establishing consistency and security, much like a beloved blanket or bear.
The only proven effective method with food jags is to wait them out, and keep offering alternatives. One day I know that applesauce will be on the outs. Something else will be the “it” food. Sort of like starlets and rockstars will be when she hits those oh-so-fun tween years.
Nutritionists say that you’ve got to offer a new food up to 20 times before your kid will try it for the first time. Without pressure or guilt or nagging. Tall order I know, but I’ve seen it work wonders in insanely picky stages of my daughter’s life. I offered her avocado 12 times – and on time number 12, it became food numero uno for 6-weeks in the running. Avocado’s gone platinum in this house!
4. real kids drink real milk
I generally don’t prescribe any particular food or way of eating to my clients – I want them to do what feels best for them and their family. I myself ate veg for 14 years, and now eat a low-meat diet with a huge emphasis on what’s best for the planet as well as my health and vitality. But I truly believe that there are many healthy ways of eating, and that so long as you feel good, you’re on the right track. That said, it’s not often that I experience a food-based miracle like this one. When my daughter was 10 months old, she was diagnosed with asthma. She was on a combo of breastmilk and formula (pumping supply issues – LONG story), and was wheezing almost constantly. After months of testing, she was put on a nebulizer with strong steroids and we were told to switch her to ‘hypoallergenic’ formula. Well, I took one look at the stuff and knew I couldn’t do it. Ingredient numero uno was high-fructose corn syrup. Then came a long, long scary list of disassembled protein chains and fats and all kinds of chemicals I couldn’t pronounce. UGH! We’d been prescribed this junk?
Well, while trying like mad to increase my supply, I began to do some serious research. What I found was astounding, and as an educated researcher I knew I’d stumbled across something big. The bigness is probably too big for this article, but if you want to do your own sleuthing I suggest the very non-techno-weenie friendly book The Untold Story of Milk. Tentatively, I joined my first Raw Milk co-op and brought home my first gallon of raw, whole milk – this was before Organic Pastures was widely available at Whole Foods, so it all felt very cloak and dagger. I switched both myself and my daughter – who had just celebrated a very wheezy first birthday – to all raw dairy products. I wasn’t sure if I was going to cure us or kill us, and entertained daily fantasies of ER visits and CPS knocking at my door.
And then it happened. Less that one week into my dairy-daredevil experiment, the wheezing stopped. And it has not. come. back. Her allergist actually cried when he listened to her lungs a month later. And I have been steadfast in shouting to the skies about the amazingness that is raw, unadulterated milk from clean happy cows ever since.
5. real kids don’t always eat their veggies – but they’re watching to see if you do!
This is one of those things that should be intuitive, but isn’t. OK, this story is going to feel like a big tangent, but I promise it isn’t:
For almost 3 decades, there’s been a national campaign for parents to read aloud to their kids. The idea being that kids who get read to become better readers. Only, a recent study shows that it doesn’t work at all – kids who get read to 30 minutes a day or more fare no better than their non-read-to peers. Yikes! So all those hours with Dora and Boots? Yup, that’s time I’ll never get back folks.
So what does cause a child to become a reader? Well, the only thing the study found to inspire legions of life-long bookworms was a parent who read books themselves, and frequently told their children, “Don’t bother me, I’m reading!”. So dive into that novel you’ve been putting off! (Oh, and thank you Mom – your beloved Mysteries made me the academic powerhouse I am today!)
I’d say we need the same attitude toward food – let’s call it the “Don’t bother me, I’m eating!” approach. So your kid won’t eat their veggies? So what? Are you eating yours? With gusto? As is so often with kids, they will do what we do, not what we say. Pesky that way.
6. real kids get back to the garden
No, not the stardust-golden-hippie variety. The hands-in-the-dirt, fresh sweet burst of flavor straight from the vine tomato variety. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that will give your kids a leg up on living a life filled with fantastic vegetable-y goodness than having some time growing them.
This is what my own research at Oxford was all about. I saw the writing on the wall for nutrition education – despite billions of dollars spent in our public schools, the whole schebang had been proven a resounding failure. It was just a fact that telling kids not to eat BAD food, and to stick to the GOOD food just doesn’t work. They might change their habits for a day or two, maybe a week, and then it’s back to red-hot Cheetos and Mountain Dew. My question was, why?
That’s when I started diving into the marketing research. This is truly scary stuff. For 50 years, the food marketing industry has known (and exploited) what nutritionists either overlooked or ignored: that eating is all about how food makes you feel, not how food fuels your body. And yeah, that’s kind of what this whole website is about – it applies to adults just as well. But these companies, man, did they know how to make us feel good (“I’m lovin’ it!”). They spent $1.6 billion on making us feel good about their crap-in-a-wrapper in 2006 alone. It was money well spent – now most kids have strong emotional ties and ‘brand loyalty’ to every disastrous food choice made by a handful of junk-pedaling food companies.
So what can be done about that? It can seem overwhelming for sure, but in my mountains of studies on different nutrition education methods trying to stem the tide, there was one shining ray of hope: farm and garden programs. These programs were different. Instead of trying to browbeat kids into healthy eating with fears of fatness and early death, they got kids out in the sunlight and dirt – where most kids want to be anyway – and helped them experience fresh healthy food from a totally different perspective. When you grow, care for, cook, and eat a vegetable, you become emotionally attached to that vegetable for life. You eat with your heart, not your mind. I still have an almost unnatural enthusiasm for blueberries, because they were the first plant I ever successfully grew myself – on a condo patio at the tender age of 29.
This simple fact was my motivation for starting Full Circle Farm, and I have been blessed to experience this amazing phenomenon first-hand. I had a group of 10 sixth graders on the farm, and they were harvesting their first-ever patch of vegetables in the educational garden – a raggedy-looking patch of somewhat overgrown radishes. None of them had eaten a radish before (yes, you read that right). They all took bites in unison. These radishes were giants – and if you know radishes, you know that radishes that have gotten too big are woody and spicy. I’m kneeling there at the garden patch thinking “OH God, now I’ve done it. They’re never going to eat anything we grow here again.” Lots of chewing. A few crinkled noses. And then smiles. Smiles! I decide I must be wrong and try one. Blech! I had to stop myself from spitting it out. Every one of my ten students insisted that they loved the radishes. Kept eating them for the rest of the period. I smiled to myself for the rest of that day. Take that, red-hot Cheetos. Mountain Dew, you’re going doooown…
So whether it’s a carrot growing in an old rainboot, or a full-on homestead operation, make sure that you and your kids get your garden on!
7. real kids table-it at least a few times a week
Notice that I don’t say “every day, real life be damned”. Let’s be realistic here and acknowledge that many of us lead lives that don’t always leave us synched up and sitting at the table at the same time every night of the week. But most of us could also manage to do better. A few nights of eating at the family table can really do wonders for kids’ eating behavior, and also can just help tie the family together in ways that other activities can’t. Crickets the loudest thing at your dinner table? That’s definitely a sign you need to spend more time there, but don’t worry there’s help! You can make it fun with verbal games and conversation-starters. Here’s a great little list of dinner table ideas from Dr. Kristie Leong.
Dealing with a sullen teenager? Even more reason to get their butts to the table 3-4 days a week. In a groundbreaking study, researchers at University of Minnesota found that teens who ate at least 3 (notice it’s not 6 or 7, busy moms!) meals a week at a family table had an astoundingly different attitude towards food, which included:
* better nutrition, including more veggies and less soda
* better literacy (mealtime conversation, anyone?)
* less than half the risk for an eating disorder, compared to family table-less peers
* fewer high-risk behaviors
* positive feelings about sharing time with family – which they denied to parents, but confessed to the research team, lil’ buggers.
Why not try a high-tech version of ringing the dinner bell? Send a text to your teen: 5-minutes ’til your butt’s at the table.
8. real kids get chubby… then skinny… then chubby… then skinny…
So please, please don’t overreact when your kid gets a little chunky. It’s always good to limit the sugar and junky stuff in the house, but pointing out your child’s weight gain can be humiliating and damaging to her already-fragile body image (yeah, I’m talking to you, Mrs. Obama).
What to do instead? Take a good look in the mirror. No, not to tell yourself how disgustingly fat you have gotten! To ask yourself, how was I treated as a child that makes me want to react this way? Was that method good for my body image? Will treating my child the same way I was (especially if it is repeating a pattern of condescension and control) be helpful to her in any way whatsoever?
If you come from a house where gaining weight was shameful, you will have to be extra-conscious of how you react to your child’s very normal flux over the years. And remember, most girls gain significant weight just before puberty – they need at least 13% body fat to start their periods, and the body kicks into high gear to help that happen. Lucky them, this is also when they are most sensitive to issues of weight and body shape. So take care. Think of your child’s heart first, and body second.
9. real kids are commercial-free
So I’m guessing you can tell by now that I think food marketers suck. The only way to stick it to them? Make sure their $1.6 billion of advertising dollars fall on deaf ears. Some ads are so pervasive it’s hard to avoid them, but creating a commercial-free childhood should be the goal of every health conscious parent. There’s multitudes of research showing that TV spots for food are almost universally a nutrient-free, calorie-laden junk-fest. So cut the commercials, maybe even cut the TV. We have been TV-free for 2 years and haven’t looked back. Not media-free, TV free. Between iTunes, Netflix, and YouTube there’s plenty of media consumption going on in this house. We just do it without the ads. The great side effect? Not only are we not being sold to, my life feels considerably less… jangled. It takes about a week away from network television to realize that people are yelling all the time. What’s up with that? In any case, a TIVO and a quick remote reflex will also do the trick. For more information on a commercial-free childhood, I highly recommend a peek at the fabulous advocacy group, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
10. real kids need real parents
Have you ever noticed the way your child looks at you? OK, parents of teens – remember back. In the years before puberty and the hormone induced door-slamming eye-rolling ihateyouihateyouihateyou fits, your child will gaze up at you with absolute and total adoration. We all have experienced these achingly loving moments, the pat on the cheek, the sweet gaze, the deep relaxed snuggle. It is the essence of the parent-child bond, and nothing is a better mirror for how you should feel about yourself. Your child, he knows that you are the most amazing, beautiful, strong, and fabulous person on the planet. Why can’t you bring yourself agree with him? Or can you?
It’s a rare person that can feel good about themselves all the time. But us parents, we have a great mirror in our children, one that goes two ways. Because our child loves us so unconditionally, we can mirror that love for ourselves and come closer and closer to self acceptance. We can see it in everyone we love, and everyone who loves us. We are perfect. Right now, not 10 pounds from now, not 10 years ago, not when you fit in your skinny jeans. Now. There’s a song here. No, literally. I think that the kick-ass gospel ladies Sweet Honey in the Rock put it best:
There were no mirrors in my Nana’s house,
no mirrors in my Nana’s house.
And the beauty that I saw in everything
was in her eyes, like the rising of the sun.
I never knew that my skin was too black.
I never knew that my nose was too flat.
I never knew that my clothes didn’t fit.
I never knew there were things that I’m missed,
cause the beauty in everything
was in her eyes, like the rising of the sun.
What does your child see in your eyes?
Liz Snyder is a food activist, anthropologist, and Family Food Coach. She has a master’s degree in nutritional anthropology from Oxford University, where she studied the complex interrelationships between the food marketing industry, nutrition education efforts in our schools, and their profound and unexpected effects on our relationship with food.For more information pleas visit http://www.ieatreal.com/.