Don’t Look Back: 15 Real Tips to Healthy Eating for Families


“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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!” 

  8. 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.]

  9. 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.

  10. 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!)

  11.  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!

  12. 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.]

  13. 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!

  14. Should you eat down the cupboards or give it away?

    Your call.  Depends on your finances.  But stop buying dead, processed food.

  15. 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.

Does this help?  Maybe not.  But feel free to ask specific questions and I’ll see what I can do…You’ll get them there.  I did.  My kids are great now.  I’m really proud of them and the habits they’ll have FOREVER…[We] want an easy way.  There is no easy way in life for things that are beautiful and worth it!  Even a sunrise requires you to get out of bed early.  Hugs!


[Good-bye 2015!  Happy 2016 to all!  Make this the year to stick with it for a lifetime.  Failure is a chance to start again with new, improved tactics in mind.  You CAN do this!]

28 thoughts on “Don’t Look Back: 15 Real Tips to Healthy Eating for Families

  1. EmilyMaine

    “Even a sunrise requires you to get out of bed early”

    LOVE this! Thanks for a great year of blogging and keeping good food at the forefront of my mind. We still have much work to do here but we can do it. Happy New Year! X

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      MY pleasure! Get that body stocked up on omega-3s, vitamin K2, vitamin D, biotin, choline, folate, and so on and so forth! Make the best darn milk there ever was! (Okay. That was a little overboard. But you know what I mean. 🙂 )

  2. Anonymous

    wow! this post was SO inspiring…thx! we are…day!! sometimes I just wish I could wake up and find it is all a bad dream-that our “food supply” really isn’t so contaminated, and our kids suffering so! but.alas, tis not so…must push on! my two younger boys,10 and 12 do eat really well now. I am proud of them. my 14 yr old is a WHOLE ‘nother story! I actually just put my foot down a few days ago, and have been sticking with it, even with his “food issues”…your post really resounded with me and YES I will go forward!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I’m glad it spoke to you. Thank you. Ah. Fourteen. That’s a tough age. Eighth or ninth grade. I remember. Such a time of transition internally and externally. The world feels all topsy-turvy at that age, if I remember right! Science. Use science! Ninth grade is about the time that formal science is introduced in public schools. I think it’s because the mind is developmentally ready to embrace facts with abstract thought–so introduce hard-core food science right along with it! 🙂 (Folic acid is a good one to interject every now and then. “Tsk. Tsk. Tsk. These crackers you love have folic acid and not folate. That does not fit into our receptors. I’d better make a spinach salad for you too if you’re going to eat that…Will you please eat a couple bites so I feel a little better? Please?”) Science and love. 🙂 Good luck! Bet strong. Be brave. Be smart. Be concerned. And turn the train around. Terri

      1. Anonymous

        ha,ha…love that! spinach salad! we are studying health this year…he now groans when we watch documentaries on this!

  3. Jhanis

    Yes it’s hard! Especially when you yourself are addicted to junk! Every time I cook, there’s this battle in my head. Should I use msg or not? All the time! Some days I skip it because the other voice wins, some days I add just a tiny bit. I don’t know why I feel the need to add it!!!! LOL I’ve helped my great grandma and grandma in the kitchen before and they all used it! Even my mom! Maybe I should stop buying it so the next time I cook, I will be left with no other option but skip it.

    But I can do this right? And I better twist my husband’s arm. Just today, he brought home a LOT of chocolates. Maybe I should eat all of them tonight to save my kids’ health. 😀

    Happy New Year Terri!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      I was addicted to junk. Totally. I could eat half a bag of Oreos. And if I was pregnant, the whole bag. Anyhow.

      That MSG is speaking to your umami (savory) taste bud–which is fired up by the free amino acid form called glutamate. You want to fulfill that little sucker? Go straight to the source! Straight to where the idea for MSG came from! Kombu seaweed! If you’re going to eat whole foods, that’s what to do. Throw away the MSG can/bottle and go for the food. You can also satisfy that particular taste bud with meat, tomatoes, dried mushrooms, soy sauce/fish sauce, and certain aged cheeses. In fact, some chefs use the rind of cheeses in their broths to give it “umami.”

      The taste of “umami”/glutamate is important to the body because glutamine is important to the body. In my mind, by using MSG, you’re tricking the body. In my mind, it’s better to eat real food sources of the “umami” foods because they will come along with other vitamins and minerals. To add kombu to a broth is much better than simply adding your MSG. The seaweed has other valuable properties besides glutamate that the MSG doesn’t have!

      So. I’d stop buying it. Get the body used to the taste of realness again. Use real sources of that “umami” which carry other valuable nutrients. Real. Raw. And honest. Like your singing, I’m sure. 🙂

      Chocolate? Mmm. Mmm. Mmm. You got me. Just teach him how to read labels. 🙂

      You know I wish you well.

      XOXO, Terri

  4. andthreetogo

    This is AMAZING! I love all of these and am going to start on them… well the easy ones like the snacks and veggies. 🙂 Then I will move on from there. Chad and I are going to do a detox/cleanse very soon and then we will start eating completely whole after that. Get rid of all the bad and never replace it hopefully.
    Happy new year to you and your lovely family Terri! xoxox

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      When I think of the word detox, I think of the sick alcoholics I used to admit, get through DTs, and then send on out (to drink again). So instead of the word detox, I like to use the concept of funneling in to the body all the things needed for the body to make its cellular chemical reactions work optimally, which usually involves tons of plant matter–and then, I also like to add in the idea of removing the things that will also interfere with optimal body chemical reactions (sugar, alcohol, artificial colors, bad fats, etc). It’s a longer way of saying “detox,” and it doesn’t sound as dramatic. But it makes me realize that every day should be full of “detox” and “cleanse” foods. I mean, who shouldn’t be tanking up on green veggies, colorful fruits, some whole food starches? But I know exactly what you mean, to have a concrete, fresh start–the line in the sand that says, “Go!” and to follow the rules exactly–propels us often to success. GOOD LUCK!!! GOOD LUCK!!!! GOOD LUCK!!!

      1. andthreetogo

        Thanks Terri! I think your may need an acronym haha. I think I meant more a cleanse than a detox… But for me I may get the shakes from my sugar withdrawals :-/

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Right. An acronym. But you know it’d be supercalafragilistic longish! Then you’d forget the acronym! 🙂

        And shakes?–you’re SUCH an addict. (Smile. That’s a jab.) When I cut way back on something like that, I always use a little bit of tea with honey throughout the day to keep me just above that shaky mark. Don’t know if that would do it for you or not. And I’m sorry if I’ve told you that before too. I guess there’s two schools of thought—do it hard and push it through (in absolute misery) or do it “hard” but more gradual and gentle. I’m more of the second camp. I keep my goal totally in sight and move, move, move as hard as I can towards it, but always listening to my body—but never letting it give up on our goals. 🙂 Hope you’re on your laptop. My replies are WAY too long. I’ve tried to stop it–but I can’t. 🙂

  5. Anonymous

    i just had to update you on our progress!!! ha,ha..i know you don’t know me, but you have encouraged me. my fourteen year old with all the food issues is now able to eat TWO baby carrots, or 3 bites of a green apple “that is cut and peeled,mind you” and that is just unbelievable for him. he will also take a bite of pain lettuce. this is my son who has starved himself because of food issues and been in the hospital–when they actually assigned him a nutritionist who told him fruity pebbles was great because it was fortified! remember us? well, I cut out every snack in btwn meals…only served what I deemed healthy, cried secretly as he suffered and trembled and gagged and raged and endured great hunger…and now this breakthrough! it is SO important for me to get vitamins and minerals in this boy-he will not take supplements-he has had tumors and surgeries in his hand-has a “donor bone” and many mental health issues..i need to learn what is the best way to nurish his brain. so any helpful hints or blog posts on this would be SO appreciated. thx for all you do!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Well, hot dog 😉 ! Carrots, apples, and lettuce can make a yummy salad as quantities increase… 🙂 (And I DO remember the Fruity Pebbles remark.)

      I’m sorry it was such a challenge to get those results. Cutting out snacks doesn’t seem too extreme. Lots of children all around the globe all around history have gone without snacks. And many, many, many have eaten food they don’t care for simply because that’s the food that was available. Sometimes I think modern, affluent societies have gone and made everything into a boutique, even what moms should serve in the kitchen. It’s hard, and I’m always one to try many different approaches to achieve my intended, beneficial goal, but if it takes saying, “This is it. This is what’s for supper. And no snacking.”–then that’s what I do. But I see the long-haul and my mind plays over and over the sad cases of autoimmunity, mental illness, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Because we say it’s okay to eat donuts a few breakfasts a week. And pizza a few days a week. And cake and cookies a few days a week. And some chips with our fast-food burger. And a couple soda pops a week. All in ONE week. It’s not okay. We can make it “normal.” But that doesn’t make it okay.

      I hope he continues to take more bites and develops a craving for those veggies and fruits. Then fish. 🙂

      I am fascinated by brain health, too. I always want to “protect the brain.” It will take me a long time because I’m so far behind, but this is a topic I have intended to write on.

      Be well. I know you know, and it sounds like you just had some strong aversions from your son. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind moms to always be safe in their health decisions. Some kids who are malnourished can easily pop into something like dehydration and ketosis which would be dangerous to them. Even in those stubborn kids, with gentle love, observation, and persistence over long periods of time, they can develop tastes for whole foods that aren’t processed.

      Thanks so much for the update. I really, really hope he takes off in his tastes for produce!

      Hugs! Terri

      1. Anonymous

        oh my goodness, I have been “blind-sided” son just tested positively fro fructose\sucrose malabsorbtion! yes…this apparently means No green apples, No carrots…No fruits at all! and no wheat, peas..etc,etc,etc!!! just when we had this break-through!! what in the heck IS this thing, and what do I do about it? it seems that so many un-related foods are now off the list of things to eat. it almost feels like food is our enemy,rather than our medicine? I feel SO let down..ive gotten him to eat peas,corn,apple bites and carrots thinking I was going to finally get him some nutrients…what do I DO?!

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        1. Do not get discouraged.
        2. Do not get discouraged.
        3. Okay. Be discouraged for a teensy bit and then pull on your determination boots and do not get discouraged.
        4. Find out if they think this is the hereditary kind or something like FODMAP intolerance which is circulating a lot. If it’s the genetic kind, you’ll just have to wrap your mind around moving him toward the low fructose/sucrose food sources permanently. Yes, it eliminates a lot, but you and he can still do it! If it’s not the genetic kind, usually these people recover over time the ability to broaden their diet, and the idea that he can move forward may motivate him to eat low fructose/sucrose foods like greens which will propel his body toward healing faster. Depending on the person, they may have to avoid certain foods indefinitely or they may just have to simply eat less of those foods. This kind of fructose/sucrose malabsorption may be a sign of small intestinal bowel overgrowth (what you’ll see called SIBO, if you haven’t seen it and know about it already) or gut dysbiosis. These are reversible conditions. Obviously, genetic forms are different, though. I have not read extensively on these.
        5. Remain positive and focused on providing him good, honest, real food. Find a good multi-vitamin or combination of supplements–make sure you run this by the doctor/dietitian.
        6. Information is your tool and your springboard. You are not alone. Others have gone this path, including those with small children. They have great recipes on the internet. Stevia can help provide sweet. Add some Stevia and palm shortening (sustainable sourced) to some almond butter or peanut butter for a good treat.
        7. Have they given you a list of foods he can and cannot eat? I’ve noticed the lists are variable in what’s on them from center to center. There may be a little wiggle room–but maybe not. For example, green bananas are usually safe for a fructose restricted diet and also have not converted their sugars to sucrose. With permission to try, green bananas could be used and make a good smoothie base (add some Stevia). (I’m somehow thinking he probably doesn’t do smoothies–yet…) Sometimes berries can be tolerated in modest amounts. But–if he can’t eat carrots, which are usually tolerated, I’m wondering if the diet is much stricter than some I’ve read.
        8. Any diet which eliminates plant matter (veggies and fruits) is not a diet compatible with good gut health. If this is not a hereditary condition, I’d be asking that doctor/provider what you need to do to move his gut to tolerating these foods. If it’s hereditary, then I think supplementation will be important until you figure out good plant sources that he’ll tolerate.

        That’s my take. Not advice. Just my take. Don’t act on any of it unless you run it by whoever has diagnosed him with this problem. Most importantly: Do NOT get discouraged. Chin up. Both of you. Grow closer to each other in this rather than further apart. Use humor. And you know I love to use science. Food is not the enemy. The body is not the enemy. It just takes a while before the conductor (your son) figures how to put the odd assortment of instruments (food) together to make cool, enjoyable music (good body function).


  6. Lindsay

    “I mean, who shouldn’t be tanking up on green veggies, colorful fruits, some whole food starches?”

    [Tentatively raises hand…]

    As the only person to baffle the functional medicine doc and have appreciable IgG to EVERY vegetable, I may be one of the few nutcases in the world who shouldn’t tank up on greens just yet. At least I still have the option of selected fruits and starches… 🙂

    Loved the post, BTW

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yes, yes. There are those people. Check this out: . I read this this summer when visiting home. Broke my heart. Food issues are so weird. Takes forever to pull up due to all the ads and stuff on the page. But interesting to read.

      Let’s try this: “I mean, who shouldn’t be tanking up on nutritious whole, non-processed foods which they tolerate?” (You know…I can think of some exceptions to even these rules. As in some people tolerate white rice better than brown rice.)

      Thank you, devil’s advocate, for calling me out. Heal that gut.

  7. rantsrulesandrecipes

    Thank you! LOVE THIS! Especially getting kids to equate the harmful things in food to the physical symptoms like stomach aches, allergies etc. It is our jobs as parents to teach kids and support their health right?!!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Bienvenidos! “It is our jobs as parents to teach kids and support their health right?!!” I don’t know. IS it our jobs as parents to teach kids? (I’m being ornery. Common Core. Ugh. Forgive my snideness.) I’ll try again!— A resounding YES! It IS our jobs as parents to teach and support health! I want my girls to be vibrant women aware of and proactive in sustaining good health and good brain power! And the sooner they can make those decisions for themselves the better off they are! Yippee for, what was that called when I was in school, lifelong learning. 🙂 Thanks for reading. I know you’re busy, busy!


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