Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fall Fitness Focus for the Family


Last week, I challenged adults to consider making healthier food choices.   A challenge that incorporates motivation, discipline and exercise even as chilly fall weather begins to settle in.  What I left out of that article were our children.  Whether you are a parent or you spend loads of time entertaining your nieces, nephews, cousins or younger siblings; if you’ve committed to a more health conscious lifestyle than you are obligated to take them along for the ride.   Behind the eyes of my little guy, {pictured above}, are the eyes of the future generations of my family.  When these eyes stare back at me I know that they trust me for everything.  I am very pleased to say that my 3 children all practice a vegetarian lifestyle.  My middle child started the journey for all of us and gradually we each adapted at our own pace.   I would love for the entire world to consider a plant-based diet, but obviously I know that just won’t happen. What I want you to know is that this journey has never been easy and temptation is at every turn.  Childhood is where all of our habitual eating habits begin.  Whether those habits are good or bad, they began when we were children.   Had someone come to me 5 years-ago to pitch a vegetarian lifestyle to me, I would have looked at them like they were nuts!   I was trained to believe that I needed meat and dairy in order to survive. Secondly, I believed that I loved these foods. Cheese was like a glorious experience for me that felt like a warm and passionate embrace.  We have this intimacy with the foods that we enjoy and whether we intend to or not we pass that onto our children.  The problem with this intimate relationship is that we tend to adore the richest, fattiest and most unhealthy foods.    The beauty of personal growth is that as we learn, we teach the generations after us.  Back to school is in full-effect around the country and I wonder how much thought you put into what your child will eat daily.  My best advice is to have a pre-planned menu.  Poor planning whether it’s for breakfast, packed school lunches or dinner will result in a drive-thru run to Burger King or McDonald’s and our children don’t need the sodium in the food or the sugar in the beverages.   

My son Jessiah and I typically always discuss what’s going to be on the menu a day in advance.  For breakfast during the week, he has a choice of wholesome cereal and almond milk, whole fruit or a fruit and veggie smoothie infused with nuts for added energy which is great when we’re in a rush.  Jessiah, is a 11 years-old now and he loves cereal by a company that has been around for years and is ironically called, “Barbara’s”, http://barbaras.com/about-barbaras/.  What I’ve been discovering across the board is that many parents don’t find that a vegetarian lifestyle offers enough alternatives for their child.  I try to come up with as many variations as I can because my son is a very picky eater with a long list of food allergies.   Weekends, are obviously a lot easier to manage because there aren’t any time constraints.  The same child that once loved tasty turkey bacon for breakfast has learned to love veggie bacon.  His favorite veggie bacon on the market is MorningStar Farms https://www.morningstarfarms.com/products/breakfast/veggie-bacon-strips?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_term=morningstar%20farms%20bacon&utm_content=Bacon_Broad&utm_campaign=Intention_Products&gclid=COG88pPN0rkCFe1DMgod41MAUg. This veggie bacon is a little higher in sodium than I would like but I serve it to him with pancakes that are loaded with fresh blueberries for a healthy balance.  His weekday, “on-the-go, morning smoothie is a joy for me to make.  He likes spinach, bananas, apples, blueberries, strawberries, cucumbers and almonds.  Having a nutribullet at home will help you to whip up a smoothie for your child in less than 3 minutes.  No sugar, juice, or added sweetener, just water and the ingredients that I listed above.  If you don’t have a nutribullet at home you can take a moment to look at what they have to offer and see if this system is something for you http://www.nutribullet.com/site/index?gclid=CJDW5r7P0rkCFepFMgodhSkA6g. I never have to trick Jessiah when it comes to using our nutribullet.  He likes being involved in what we chop up in the kitchen and blend in the system.  Breakfast on the run used to include a croissant from Starbucks which is loaded butter, fat and calories.  When he’d hop out of the car to head into school last year, I’d find myself finishing his half-eaten pastry which had the type of calories that I absolutely didn’t need.  

When we eat healthy we inspire our children to do the same.  We can’t blame anyone but ourselves for taking them into fast food restaurants.  There are no proven nutrients in fast food and we aren’t doing our children any favors by feeding it to them.  Realistically, we will all find ourselves in situations where we just can’t make it home at a decent time to cook a good meal.  On those days, Jessiah and I pop into Boston Market {a meat-lover’s haven}, and we as vegetarian’s order what’s called a, “sides-sampler plate”, which allows us to pick 3 of their fresh vegetables.  Their veggies include the likes of, garlic or creamed spinach, mixed veggies, string beans, and fresh corn. An added treat is that each plate comes with 1 small piece of sweet cornbread that Jessiah simply loves!  I give him bottled water for a drink versus the fountain sodas and juices that are offered by the, “not so fast food”, chain.  Every now and again I also let him have lemonade because I do realize that he’s still a kid. Overtime, his cravings that were once for chips, unhealthy snacks and food have completely changed for the better.  Last night, he suggested that we have brown rice with broccoli and zucchini for dinner tonight. A huge misconception that parents and adults alike have is that grains and vegetables can’t fill us up.  Everything is possible but it starts with us and it takes discipline and strength.  While some of us were privileged enough to grow up in homes that ate healthy, many of us weren’t.  The changes in our home start with us.  We can break the chains of diabetes, heart-disease, and stroke by changing ordinary food choices into extraordinary intellectual decisions that are heart healthy. It won’t happen overnight but what really does?  My same child that was on a crusade against veggies now realizes that there should always be something green on his plate because his mother and father have taken the time to teach him that.  As your little ones embrace being back to school please encourage them to make healthy food choices.  Leading by example today will help our future generation embrace a healthier and fit-conscious tomorrow.  Challenge yourselves this fall and keep in mind that by adding your children to the challenge will also help you to attain your fitness goals. 
Much Luv,

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  1. I commend Jessiah, I truly do. There are grown adults who are unable to train their taste buds to enjoy that which he does. I also liked the fact that he likes sweet cornbread (just as I do). Coincidentally, I was raised on sweet cornbread as a child in Milwaukee on account of my aunt had southern roots. Or maybe I'm just think sweet cornbread is a southern thing?

    I don't know of many young kids willing to pass up a soft drink for a bottled water. Again, he is commendable.

    How does veggie bacon taste? I'd never heard of veggie bacon beforehand. I had planned to ask what does a routine dinner meal consist of in your home but that question was answered where you stated brown rice and broccoli and zucchini.

    I commend you @ leading by example. Applause.

  2. Hi Don:

    This comment has me so excited!!! Veggie bacon is delicious and you know what? It's right in your supermarket I promise you! Walmart and Target typically carry vegan and vegetarian meal subs. Jessiah is awesome and I learn just as much from him as he does from me. The more plant-based/ground-grown my dinner is the better I feel about it. I love this lifestyle! I have more energy than I have had in years! Milwaukee!!! I don't even know where that is lol! Cornbread is delicious and it's one of those desserts that are just made with love. When someone offers a piece of warm cornbread it just feels like love. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading this article.

    Try it!!! Go to your vegetarian frozen section and see if any of the Morning Star, Kashi or Amy's products catch your eye. Most things take a little getting used to but I promise you can do it! Let me know how you make out.

    Much Luv,