How to raise healthy “cave kids”
I am often asked, “But do your kids eat the way you do?” My answer is, “Yes, 80% of the time they do“. I can control what they eat at home. The other 20% is when I have to just let go because they are in the care of others, or at a birthday party. I would prefer for them to avoid sugar, processed food, toxic seed oils and grains 100% of the time, but that is not realistic. What I can do though is educate them about food and what is healthy for them and hope that with time they will make good choices themselves. I want them to gain an appreciation for how food is our fuel and our medicine. We teach our children about stranger danger and road safety but do we teach them enough about what we put into our mouths? Shouldn’t they also learn which foods will help them grow strong and healthy and which foods will rot their teeth and cause inflammation and disease. I refer to my kids as “cave kids” because in our cave we eat as primally as possible. We honour REAL food – just as nature intended us to eat.
I try not to stand in judgement of how other people raise their kids. Bad choices are often due to a lack of education. But soon it is going to become very difficult to order a fizzy drink (full of sugar and chemicals) for your 5 year old, without eliciting dagger glares from the people at the table next to yours. In case you never received the memo, it is pretty much out there now that sugar is toxic.
Give your children the best start in life and feed them food that nourishes them. Get them used to eating a diverse range of flavours and textures. Don’t use food as treats. Change that mindset now. It is setting them up for an unhealthy relationship with food which will haunt them into adulthood. You have a golden opportunity as parents to train their taste buds to not look for something sweet at every mouthful. Kids do not need sugar every day, or even every week. My trick is that I send them off to birthday parties, (with all its sugary fare) on a full tummy. Less chance they will over-indulge.
Don’t cook them different meals. They must eat what the family eats. Make an effort to eat supper together. This is a great way to role-model how healthy food can be tasty and enjoyable. I don’t force my kids to eat, but I don’t offer them alternatives either. Teach your children to appreciate the time and effort that has gone into preparing a meal for the family. Encourage and reward gratitude – not fussiness. Once dinner time is over, the kitchen is closed and it only opens up again the next morning when breakfast is served.
If they are sick, give them bone broth not ice-cream. Sugar will hinder their body’s ability to heal. If your sneaky munchkin can’t keep their sticky little fingers out of the sweet cupboard, then don’t have a sweet cupboard. Don’t keep junk food in the house – period! I make an allowance for good quality dark chocolate only. There are enough opportunities for treats out there in the world – home doesn’t have to be one of them.
Want to send your kids off to school with a nutritious breakfast? Feed them eggs. Cereals are just packed with sugar and grains and will not keep them full for very long. Put some effort into their lunch boxes and get creative. Think beyond a peanut butter sandwich, sweetened fruit yoghurt and cereal bar, which is really just sugar, sugar and more sugar.
Kids don’t need to constantly snack if you feed them proper meals which include healthy fats. Grazing on fruit and biscuits all day long is not necessary at all and will just add up to a huge pile of sugar by the end of the day. Offer them water and Rooibos tea to drink and stop buying juice. Even if they throw themselves on the floor and tantrum to the point where you are worried the neighbours might phone the police – don’t give in. I promise you, when they get thirsty enough they will drink it.
Hungry teenagers don’t need copious amounts of pasta and bread to fill them up, they just need a healthy amount of protein as well as nuts, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil and butter in their day. These fats will keep them satiated. Get your teenager off grains, dairy, sugar and all processed food and they will thank you when their pimples disappear and they gain a renewed confidence in how they look and feel.
Food manufacturers developed “kiddy friendly” foods for profits and to brainwash parents into believing that children can’t eat regular food. Families living in Paleolithic days or even 100 years ago never knew about processed fish fingers, chicken nuggets or macaroni cheese. And, if margarine was available back then, they would probably have used it to polish their hunting spears or grease a creaky door. It would never have even crossed their minds to put such an inedible substance into their mouths.
Parents, your children have huge potential. They have the potential to be healthy, have strong bodies, sleep well at night, avoid disease, have beautiful teeth, glowing skin, good focus and abundant energy. Yes, your children have HUGE potential indeed – they just need your help to realise it. So, set the example. Take the time to educate yourself. Reflect on what you eat. Determine if there is room for improvement. Make the necessary changes and then get started on helping your kids to do the same.