Thursday, November 14, 2013

Preparing our Children for a Healthier Holiday Season and end of First Quarter Success

As a child who was chubby, had major food cravings, ADD, OCD and PCOS, I know too well the connection between food, behavior and poor health.  

This was my season!  As we prepared for the holiday, I dreamt of being the child whose Mother had mastered fudge, cookies and pies.  I would fantasize that as I entered the house after school during the holiday season that my Mother would have fresh baked goods cooling and ready for us to devour.
This was never the case because like myself, my Mother is also a food addict.  If she made it, we all ate it and we ate it all.  One holiday season in particular, Mom decided to freeze the cookies that we made to avoid temptation.  We soon discovered that cookies were just as good frozen as fresh baked.  Well, maybe not just as good but for a food addict, a close second!

I later realized when beginning to study nutrition that my cravings were driven by beneficial bacteria, essential fatty acid and amino acid deficiencies.  Not only were my cravings driven by these deficiencies but my behavior and subsequent health ailments as well. 

This is an important correlation to make and with the end of the 1st quarter nearing, we don’t want our children on that downward spiral of food associated behavior meltdowns and sliding grade point averages.

Whether you are the parent of babies, toddlers, in betweens and teens, this information applies to all.  Without controlling to the point of creating a sneaky child, how do we monitor and control food choices?  School parties, breaks and “loving grandparents” can throw a wrench into these plans. 
Start with nourishing meals that will prevent your child from turning into that craving meltdown monster.  A hearty breakfast for example of bacon or sausage and eggs with plenty of butter will satiate and positively energize children.  If your child is not hitting the autumn celebrations at school and other events with low blood sugar, likely he/she will not over eat the over processed sugar laden foods.   You know it has worked for you so be sure to honor your child with the same practice.
If special time together during the holiday season is baking, look for the healthiest recipes possible.  Our Low Carb/Paleo community is full of blogging parents who are facing some of the same decisions that you are.  There is no lack of healthful, moderately sweetened recipes out there.  Choosing sweeteners that contain minerals like Grade B Maple Syrup are healthier than the devitalized white sugar and there are plenty of sweetener combinations that even the most advanced palate can’t tell the difference.    

Children have a greater need for carbohydrate than adults so you don’t have to be quite as diligent as long as the child is not suffering metabolic disturbances.  

Small children much prefer crafts over the sometimes long process of baking.  Sure, they’re excited to begin, they might put on their miniature aprons, begin with the pouring of ingredients only to melt down by the time the first batch of baked goods is in the oven.  This leaves you frustrated, the child tired and a mess that you will be responsible for. 
Are you hosting the Thanksgiving Dinner this year?  It’s always fun to have a special “kids table”.  This allows children their independence and frees the parent from worry of manners, spills and distractions.  Line your floor with a sheet or disposable table cloth to prevent carpet or flooring damage, set up your small table and chairs and put your child to work decorating. 

Large pieces of construction paper or butcher paper can line the table which can provide the children a place to express their thanks in picture or words.  

Your child can create name place cards and napkin rings for both the adult and child table.  Plain index cards, construction paper, festive stickers and markers are all that is needed for this easy, personal project.  I have childhood memories of “being in charge” of name place cards and I took my job very seriously. 
Put your child in charge of the table decorations.  Send them out to the yard for maple leaves and set your leaf standards high!  This will keep them busy for a few additional moments and teach them the importance of standards and patience for your presentation.

Talk about the reason for your celebration with your children.  I’m a big fan of eating seasonally and our Thanksgiving is a harvest celebration.    This can be a great game during grocery shopping and during the celebration.  You can discuss the seasonal foods with your child and others in attendance and make it a game during dinner with your left over index cards.
While educating with the reason for the season, be sure to discuss the nutrients in the foods as well.  This is important and lost with this generation.   This lesson can encompass your beliefs through the miraculous Vitamin/Season connection.  Is it a coincidence that our squash family is high in Vitamin C during the onset of the fall/winter season?  Those of you home schooling have a unique advantage as this can be incorporated into your day.  You have more control so take advantage of this time. 

Perhaps you can put together a celebratory feast of seasonal fare and invite others from your group or friends who also home school.  

These ideas are also fun for those who are working in, or own daycare and after school programs. 
If we begin at a young age, we can instill solid dietary habits in our children that can carry them through life free of obesity, disordered eating patterns and degenerative disease.

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