Two words that strike fear or frustration into the hearts of parents and leave them scratching their heads and reaching for the quickest convenience food to quiet their hangry child.
What to feed our families has become a constant battle between what we “know” is good for them, what convention says is “kid food”and what they will actually eat. We parents strive to feed our children the most nutritious food they will actually eat. But what if I told you that once I focused on a “real food” approach, my life – and mealtime – got so much less complicated?
You’d probably roll your eyes and dismiss my statement assuming that I am full of it and only “do it for the ‘gram.” Or you think that I am some masochist that loves to torture herself in front a hot stove all day and never plays with the kids she claims to nourish with healthy food.
None of those assumptions are accurate. I don’t have time to slave away in a kitchen. My husband and I both work full-time outside the home and we have two energetic children; Conor, 4.5 years old and Annie, 1.5 years old. Suffice it to say, time is not something I have in large supply.
But here’s the thing: Healthy food doesn’t need to be complicated!
What many don’t know is that I came to this way of life (not a diet!) because of disease. I have had Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid disease) for 20 years. Half of my thyroid was removed in 2012. Then, despite being thin, a college athlete and apparently healthy, my husband and I suffered two miscarriages which ultimately led me to being diagnosed with Type II diabetes when I was 29. Scared. me. silly.
I refused to accept that Type II diabetes is “relentlessly progressive” and that I would end up on insulin. After crying for a few days, I immediately dove into all the research I could get my hands on and eventually focused on a nutrition-based approach to managing it – and, yes, eventually reversing it. This made the most sense to me and appeared to be something I could manage rather than relying on drugs and their inevitable side-effects. Over the course of the next year, I dramatically changed the way I ate and thought about food.
Case in point: When I was pregnant – primarily eating a low carb, good fat, moderate protein, real food diet – my “diabetes” was so controlled, I even passed the gestational diabetes test TWICE – totally unheard of and had perfect post-meal and fasting numbers throughout both pregnancies.
NOTE: Conventional medicine doesn’t recognize the reversal of Type II diabetes and considers it to be “progressive” but my experience and that of thousands of others has shown that to be an antiquated view of chronic metabolic disease.
So, needless to say, I’m a believer. More than that though. I don’t want our children to ever have to experience the terror that came with that diagnosis or any other modern day, preventable chronic disease. And our children are at great risk.
Just 20 years ago, Type II diabetes in children was almost unheard of. Today, nearly 1 in 5 school age children and young people (6 to 19 years) in the United States has obesity. According to Functional Medicine Practitioner, Chris Kresser, a
“recent Yale study indicated that nearly one in four kids between the ages of 4 and 18 have pre-diabetes (glucose intolerance). Some regional studies show type 2 diabetes in kids has jumped from less than 5% before 1994 to 50% in 2004.”
Yikes. And this doesn’t just affect overweight children.
I don’t think I’m alone in thinking it’s time we take stock of our food environment and ask ourselves why this terrible disease is almost exclusively a disease of the modern, western world. The uncomplicated truth is that our modern diets are based on “food-like products” rather than food from the moment we are exposed to what our mothers ate while pregnant. The Standard American Diet (“SAD”) just isn’t working and it’s making us sick and tired.
But here’s the good news (finally, right?):
As parents, we have the power to ensure our children’s diet and lifestyles create an environment in which they can thrive. My husband and I cleaned up the way we ate and have passed that on to our children.
We focus on “real food” – Avoiding or limiting as much as possible, overly-processed foods (sorry, whole wheat bread, wheat pasta cheerios and goldfish), the inflammatory seed oils (later, canola, vegetable and soybean), artificial colors and flavors (I’m looking at you, Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1 Lake) and food additives (sayonara, MSG (monosodium glutamate, autolyzed yeast extract), BHT, BHA, etc…). Those last two, by the way, are also in your shaving cream…YUM!
That being said, we eat out, we go to parties, I drink wine (sometimes too much), my son has pizza and cookies at birthday parties, school or friends’ houses.
We are normal people (for the most part, but that’s another blog post)
But when we are home and it’s not a special occasion (no, a Tuesday afternoon at the zoo is not a special enough occasion for a cupcake), we generally eat a simple meal with a focus on good quality protein, quality fats and veggies.
It’s that basic formula that really streamlines mealtime. Protein + Fat + Veggies = FUEL
BONUS: Fueled kids are less hangry and don’t beg for snacks!
Next post: I’ll give you my top 10 guidelines I try to follow for un-complicated fuel for my family.