“Terri, how in the world did you get your family to eat this stuff? I just don’t think mine will do it.”
A real response to a real question. Excerpted from personal correspondence with a friend. May you enter 2016 with renewed vigor for all things good for you and your family:
Accept that changing your family’s diet to a truly real-food-based diet will be the hardest thing you have ever done to this point.
You will be challenged on every single front. By your kids. By schools. By churches. At the grocery store. By grandparents. Watching TV. Even by yourself lots of times.
Realize you can’t do it without the support of your husband.
If he’s not on track with you in these changes, you’ll most likely fail.
It’s a lot easier if you have a distinct plan in mind.
For some people, they need to go buy a book with a named diet to help them know what and how to eat. For example, some people like to read and go by The Daniel Plan or a book called Gut and Psychology Syndrome or by the internet site 100 Days of Real Food. You don’t have to have a named plan, but I think you need to definitely define your boundaries. Or you’ll fail when your kids back you against a wall. Lay out the rules so YOU know! Such as, “We will eat NO ARTIFICIAL COLORS. Period. We will eat NOTHING WITH ADDED SUGAR. Period. We will eat nothing with ADDED PRESERVATIVES. Period.” And so on.
It will be crucial to learn how to cook.
Most of us get sick of raw food. I know I’ve learned how to make fish, roasts, and even grill! I pretty much stuck with eating and cooking chicken breast before our change (Limiting greatly the kinds of nutrients we got–there’s so much more to chicken that we need than is in the breast—same with beef–steak has a certain amino acid profile and other cuts have different amino acid profiles–and we ideally need them all!!! Yet all we eat is the “muscle” meats and toss the rest. A waste. And a detriment to our body.). I’ve also gotten a huge vegetable repertoire. You will need to learn some basic recipes that people like so that nobody starves.
Most people are result driven, so look for results.
For us, it was a HUGE improvement in stomach aches, headaches, poop issues, nasal allergies, reflux, attention abilities, and sleep improvement. We did initially cut out grains and dairy, but we have now introduced very high quality dairy and select whole grains. You won’t find colors, sugar, preservatives, or added vitamins to our dairy products…for whole grains, I mean the chunky stuff. 🙂 Not a processed substance which says whole grain.
Don’t look back.
When I was wishy-washy, my kids would sense it and push me backwards. Finally, my husband put his foot down one day and said to them in a steely voice, “This is the way we eat now.” A united house stands.
If you’ve defined your “rules,” then you ought to be able to explain them to your kids.
And you’re going to need to know a tad bit of science as to why. Like “…there are studies that link red food dye with the brain not functioning the way it needs to, especially in kids. So we don’t eat that. It’s a chemical anyhow just added to make you want it and think it’s pretty. But the body has to do something with it!!! And it isn’t naturally occurring and so the body doesn’t exactly know what to do with it!” And “…we have to eat a fresh green vegetable every single day because it has folate it in to help our brains function and to help our white blood cells fight off germs. We get sick less when we eat lots of natural folate!” And “…we don’t eat food with added synthetic vitamins…the synthetic forms don’t fit into our body’s chemical reactions the way the forms do from food!”
All snacks need to be a vegetable or fruit.
[This is how we started. The kids eat great day-in and day-out finally, and now we deviate from this rule. But it was strict at first.]
Fill them up with fats.
This works well if they do well with butter. Our allergies come back with butter, but maybe yours wouldn’t. Butter is NOT bad. It has been vindicated, although you haven’t heard much about that! Natural saturated fats have been vindicated. BUT vegetable oils, peanut oils, corn oils, Crisco, margarine, etc are the devil for our cells. SO bad! Even more demonic when heated for hours like at a restaurant. Kills me just thinking about it. ANYHOW, fill them up with…butter on their veggies or on their meats…Moms always tell me, “They’ll starve.” Well, they won’t if you add extra fat to what they will eat. Then, eventually you’ll transition away from this as they adjust to new foods.
Make them find one veggie they’ll eat.
They can’t say no to all of them. Then, later, make them pick another. If you make a vegetable they don’t like, at first just put those ones on your plate and you eat them. Then later on, put one tiny piece on their plate. They don’t have to even eat it! It just has to sit there. Then, eventually make them taste it. (This can happen over 3-4 months!) Then– every time they must take the mandatory bite. (Remember lots of butter!!!!! Butter helps the body to absorb certain minerals and vitamins from veggies better too!)
If you think it doesn’t matter, you won’t succeed.
It won’t be important enough to you. But I’m here to tell you it does matter. I started a little blog to try to convince people it does matter. I have some science posts on there. But it matters. You can always e-mail me and ask me how to explain why we should eat XYZ to your kids and why we shouldn’t eat QRS. I don’t mind a bit! I usually know! I’ve made it my mission!
Get a meal plan ready for when you start and go at it.
Work from those recipes and foods you have prepared for the plan that week. You can sometimes buy plans on-line. I have some cookbooks you could borrow for a couple of weeks if you want to make copies. I can lend you recipes we love. [Mmm. Clearly this has internet logistical challenges, but I’m happy to share favorite recipes or books here on The HSD.]
Did I say that the kids will have a HARD time?
You may want to start out just doing it in your house only. “Inside our house we will eat this way.” Later, the kids will self-select because they can see what red food dye or wheat does to them!
Should you eat down the cupboards or give it away?
Your call. Depends on your finances. But stop buying dead, processed food.
Don’t let set-backs be go-backs.
You’ll have bad days and weeks of food choices. But regroup and get back despite the fussing.