WHAT OUR KIDS EAT ON A PLANT-BASED DIET

I have a secret that I never tell people in person: one of the reasons we homeschool is so that we can feed our children healthy food.  The amount of processed food going into kids these days by the hand of caregivers is ridiculous, and there’s no way to justify it.  When the ingredients aren’t even real food, it shouldn’t take the place of food no matter how cheap or easy it is to prepare.  We can’t give up and grow unhealthy kids for the sake of convenience!

Children are just like adults, and they won’t learn lasting healthy habits if we focus on what we shouldn’t be feeding them.  If our kids think foods high in sugar and fat are good–even in moderation–they will think we are depriving them of good food when we ask them to eat healthy foods.  Because they don’t know any different, they will eat unhealthy foods until they are sick.  It’s our job to regulate what goes into their bodies and teach them about how our bodies work!  They WANT to eat healthy food when they understand that the food they eat grows the cells in their bodies and each cell creates more cells until that group of cells becomes them. 

Kids don’t want to be tricked; they know we have more power than them and that we could manipulate or deceive them.  They’re naturally cautious of our motives and will rebel if they don’t think our reasons are for their benefit.  If we aren’t letting them in on the great secrets of how cells divide and grow our bodies, they won’t ever see the importance of eating healthy foods.  Because processed foods taste good and are often easy and fun, they’ll only eat veggies if they understand the importance of real food. 

Kids are also brutal bullies, and food is a seemingly innocent thing that kids bully each other over.  As adults, we often miss kids bullying each other over food, or we miss its power.  If we place our kids in a setting where it’s cool to have the newest processed food and uncool to bring their healthy lunch, they’ll ignore our pleas that they eat healthy, and we’ll lose the food battle (a battle that is actually for their health.)    

After all that, I feel like I should have a great master menu of what the meals and foods are that I give our kids, but really I just try to shove as much fruit and vegetables into them as possible!  Nothing is packaged or processed.  Breakfast gets loaded down with fruit, lunch is fruits and vegetables, and we have at least 2-3 different vegetables at dinner.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard about eating a plant-based diet is to eat some form of protein at every meal.  This is especially important with kids.  Whether it’s just a handful of nuts, nut butter, seeds, beans, or eggs, protein keeps them full and satisfied.   

It’s a glimmer of hope when one of the kids voluntarily asks if a food is healthy or not.  I hope they internalize the why behind healthy eating and continue to make healthy choices for themselves as they get older.  For now I think it’s our responsibility to teach our kids that food from the earth is good and anything else should be avoided or eaten cautiously in moderation.  

Do you struggle with getting your kids to eat healthy foods?  Do you have any tips that I didn’t talk about that help get kids to choose healthy foods on their own?  Let me know!  I’d love to hear how you teach your kids about eating healthy!


 

PLANT-BASED

A couple months ago I was feeling foggy, sluggish, and depressed and couldn’t figure out why or what to do about it. I kind of just blamed it on winter and waited for it to pass. Then, one day I was reading my workout journal, and I realized how much our diet had changed over the previous months. I realized I had fallen into the habit of focusing on avoiding unhealthy food and controlling portions instead of focusing on what food I was eating. It may not sound like a big difference, but it is EVERYTHING!

About 6 years ago, as I was attempting to discover some food/gut issues, I went through a pretty rigorous elimination diet. I was able to discover some root causes for lifelong symptoms (I have an unusual food sensitivity to yeast). As I was eating the most basic foods allowed on an elimination diet, I wondered why we ever add anything else! These foods were allowed because they have no reason to ever make anybody sick. That was when we first began to eat a plant-based diet. I was very strict in the beginning, but I hate the food conversation; it can get so awkward, especially if other people are serving us food, so we tend to slack off when we’re around others. I think the fear of that conversation even reached into the online world, and I wasn’t even interested in writing about it here. However, since I’ve recently struggled with this again and was reminded how much better I can feel, I finally want to write about it. If eating a certain way keeps me feeling energetic and sane, it’s worth sharing!

Eating plant-based is a lifestyle diet, not a temporary way to lose weight.
It’s not about counting calories or even trying to lose weight (because you can easily find plant-based foods to overeat.) It’s about feeling better. We simply plan all our meals around plants instead of treating fruits and vegetables as side dishes. Fruits and vegetables become the main courses. For instance, instead of sprinkling a few blueberries on top of oatmeal for breakfast, I will sprinkle a few raw oats on top of frozen blueberries with coconut milk. Or spaghetti squash instead of pasta noodles and plant based proteins instead of meat. It doesn’t have to be complicated to be healthy! We avoid meat and animal products on a regular basis, but I think the only way for us to make eating plant-based sustainable is to be okay with eating these things when we’re with friends and family. This is especially true with the kids; when they’re at home they eat what we eat and don’t know any different, but we can’t control everything they eat when we’re away from home, and it’s never worth the struggle!

When the focus is on what good we can/should be eating, we’re suddenly packing ourselves full of vitamins and nutrients that make the cells in our bodies thrive and feel alive! If we follow a “healthy” diet but don’t replace the things we’ve removed from our diets with fresh, raw alternatives, we still won’t feel better. We really are what we eat! This shift in focus also keeps us from feeling deprived. A huge part of our relationship with food is in our heads. When it’s a mental battle of wills, our stomachs almost always win. We have to give ourselves better options and good reasons why we’re not eating the delicious unhealthy foods, otherwise it just becomes a failed diet.


The good news for me was that it didn’t take long to feel better. Within a week of eating plant-based I had more energy, and within 2-3 weeks I felt better mentally and emotionally. These are my results, not necessarily the results everybody will see. Although I’d love to hear your results if you do eat a plant-based diet or if you ever choose to try it out!

A FRESH START

After a few months away, I finally decided to try to revive Slow Wellness.  I was out of the country when I got notified that my domain name would be expiring, but there was nothing I could do until I got back.  Once I got back, I realized there were a lot of complications tied to my domain expiring and a malfunctioning plugin I had installed, and it was not a simple pay a little money fix.  I decided to just let it go, and consider it a loss.  However, I missed it!  I like my little blog, and it helps me stay focused and motivated toward healthy living!  It took some long phone conversations with my domain host, but they were finally able to get it working again!  And lucky me, nobody bought my domain name during my 5 months away.

I’m looking forward to posting more this year and would love to hear if you have anything you’d like me to write about!  For awhile I was really uncomfortable writing about food and diet because it can be a sensitive topic, but I realize that’s not something I can avoid.  It’s a huge part of how Slow Wellness even came about, so I’m planning on talking more about food.  Specifically eating a plant-based diet, teaching kids to think that healthy food is normal food, and eating healthy while traveling.

This week feels like our first week of spring, even though it doesn’t officially begin until next week.  It just feels like a good time to start fresh.  Waking up from winter and working on readjusting priorities.  I’m excited to check in here more often, even if only to keep myself motivated!  Thanks for reading along!

EARLY MORNING THOUGHTS ON TIME MANAGEMENT

 

Happy Friday, friends! I woke up this morning to thunder and opened the door to feel the temperature drop of almost 30 degrees less than yesterday– happy Friday for sure!  It finally feels a little like fall today; I know it will probably heat back up again before it’s truly cooler here in Arkansas, but for now I’m going to enjoy it.

One of my favorite things about the weather getting cooler is spending some time out in the crisp air and then coming back inside with a fresh perspective and curling up in a chair with a good book.  I’m working on finishing up all my books I started over the summer so I can pick some new ones to read over the next couple months, but I also must confess, I am sometimes bad about beginning books and never finishing them.  I love getting new books at the library, and I sometimes get a little too ambitious about how many I choose to take home.

I have a few books right now I’m wanting to read–a few I’ve seen at the library, and a few sitting on my shelf at home.  It’s my turn to pick what we read next in a little book club I do with my sisters, and it’s such a fun decision to make.  I’ve been scanning my bookcase for either an old favorite or something I’ve been wanting to read for awhile;  I don’t want to let everyone down with something new that I’ve never read before just in case it’s not good, so I finally narrowed down my choices to a couple favorites I haven’t read in a long time, and a few I’ve been eyeing for awhile on the shelf.

Something I’ve been mulling over a lot lately is how I’m spending my time.  It’s so easy to label anything on the internet or social media as distracting, but I’m also considering other things that distract me from living in the moment each day.  There have always been distractions, even before we could go online; reading a book sounds healthy and wholesome compared to staring at a screen, but if it’s still keeping me from being present, is it really any better?  I tend to give my full attention to something when I am interested in it, which means once I start a book, I struggle with neglecting everything and everyone else until I finish it.  It’s not something I have an answer to, I’m just processing it and trying to put myself in the shoes of someone 30-40 years ago;  I wonder if there’s some wisdom in there we can glean from our parents and grandparents or anyone else from an older generation.  What did they do for enjoyment and distraction from day to day life, and how much of this “distraction” is okay?

Sometimes it’s a challenge for me to balance my time between what I want to do, what I need to do, and what I know I’ll be glad I did later on, and I’m learning to be content in an imperfect day.  There will always be days where I’m pleased with how I spent my time and other days where I disappoint myself, and that shouldn’t be the basis for happiness.  Top priority should always go to what we know we’ll be glad we did later on because these things are productive and satisfying.  Next, it’s important to grind out the things we need to do, and finally leave room for what we want to do.  I think that’s why wrapping up in a cozy blanket with a book is the most delightful after a hard day’s work or a run outside in the cold air; it feels well-deserved and like icing on a cake.  Icing is not completely necessary to make the cake, but actually pretty necessary to enjoy the cake.  Likewise, those well placed moments of doing something we enjoy aren’t completely necessary to live our life, but they’re actually pretty necessary to enjoy life.  It’s just learning to balance our icing to cake ratio: too much of the icing would make the cake inedible, and in the same way spending too much time on what we want to do makes us feel wasteful and regretful.

Now that these Friday morning thoughts have me wanting some delicious chocolate cake with perfectly whipped cream cheese icing, I’m going to go work on being present in my day! Have a good weekend!

SLOW PROGRESS

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It’s a beautiful morning today! I’m not naturally a morning person, but I love being awake in the dark, quiet house and watching the sun slowly come in the windows.  I am exhausted, though.  I’ve been up late at night and early in the mornings the last few days, and my body feels drained.  It’s so easy to fall into these bad habits, so something I’ve tried to do ever since I was pregnant with my first 8 years ago is to do some form of exercise every day.  It began when I realized I was going to have to be intentional with being active because I didn’t feel like it many days in pregnancy and after the baby was born I just wasn’t able to get enough hours of sleep at night to give me any energy.  I definitely haven’t been able to keep up every single day all these years, but having that goal in mind has usually kept me from going too many days without doing something.  Some days it’s just a quick 20-30 minute walk and other days I’m able to go on a run.  Some days I can do a full body strength routine, and other days I just do a few sets of push-ups or squats; it really depends on what I feel like doing.  It might sound sporadic and I will never get a six-pack, but I feel stable, strong, and capable, and I’m not having to obsess over exercise every single day, and isn’t that the goal for most of us?  To feel strong enough to lift and carry our children, do our jobs without back or shoulder pain, and to feel capable of taking care of ourselves and the business that needs to be taken care of without struggling physically?

This morning when I felt that exhausted feeling at the beginning of the day, I knew if I didn’t do something early, I wouldn’t muster up any new energy throughout the day to make a workout any easier later on.  I used to get a nap in the middle of the day with babies, but I can’t always count on that anymore, so I squeezed in a quick lower body workout; a few sets of weighted squats and lunges in the morning sunlight, and I feel refreshed and accomplished.  I like to do anywhere from 2-8 total sets of squats while holding dumbbells, each set including at least 20 squats and then I like to vary the type of squat each set.  For instance, 20 regular squats, 20 sumo squats, 20 right lunges, 20 left lunges, repeat.  Or, like this morning, two and a half sets of 25 squats while holding 10 pounds weights, and then somebody needed me and I had to go back inside! Working out one half of the body is an easy way to stay strong without having to stress the whole body.  Sometimes I don’t mentally want to work my whole body, no matter how much I tell myself it’s good for me, and I know pushing myself too hard will make me want to quit altogether–there is merit in knowing yourself!  However, something is always better than nothing.

I think it’s important to be realistic with our goals and not set an image in our minds to strive towards that is only going to leave us disappointed, but instead try to find a level of fitness that is sustainable in the long run.  Quick fix workouts are helpful to jump start a fitness regime, but the level of intensity involved probably won’t be sustainable.  I like to remind myself that slow progress is better than no progress, and my worth is not based on my fitness ability or appearance.  The goal should always be to feel strong and healthy, and that can be accomplished with small daily amounts of work.  It really is a balance of remembering to work on my fitness, yet not spend all my energy and spare time working out or thinking about working out.

Do you have a favorite quick workout for those days when you don’t feel like doing anything but you know doing something would be better than nothing?  I would love to hear your ideas, let me know in the comments below!

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