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Start Them Young, Teaching Children to Eat Well for Life!

Growing up in a typical Jewish American family meant that get-togethers (like most families) centered around food. When I was younger my family had amazing weekend brunches. My grandmother would cook and bake all week preparing for am amazing all-you-can-eat spread. Bagels piled high with all the fixin’s (cream cheese, lox & butter), mounds of bacon & eggs, casseroles of kugel (sweet noodle cake), fried potatoes pancakes with jam & sugar and regular pancakes with syrup & butter. And for dessert: fresh homemade fudge (my personal favorite), homemade strudel (my personal favorite), cookies (my personal favorite), and chocolate bundt cake with white icing (my personal favorite).

What could possibly be missing from this amazing meal? How about a vegetable or a fruit? Nope, just a whole lot of carbs and sugar!

Now that I am older, it is increasingly obvious to me that the food we ate is the main reason why much of my family suffers from major health issues. Most of my family members suffer from adult and childhood obesity, adult onset diabetes, thyroid problems and heart disease. ALL of these diseases are preventable!

As part of the generation that was raised on Coke (one at every meal) and boxed mac-n-cheese; I am now hyper aware of food dangers and the food I feed my own children. We are not always perfect but I try to make it super easy on all of us.

My intentions for this blog are to keep myself accountable for my family and promote healthy eating for our young ones. I would also like to give parents (like yourself) support on feeding your family well and create community awareness about the choices we make for our children that will last their lifetime.

It can be very simple to start your children eating healthy for life. Here are a few steps that will help you start them young on foods that will keep them healthy their whole life!

  • It starts with breastfeeding! - There is no disputing it! Breastmilk is best for your baby and breastfeeding actually builds your child’s pallet. Trace amounts of flavor are passed through your milk, so eat well and eat the rainbow (food of all colors) when nursing. If you are not nursing read your formula labels! Many contain sugar as a main ingredient.

  • Feed your baby real food! - When your baby is ready for solids (no earlier then 6 months) feed them whole foods. I followed baby led weaning that discourages pureed baby foods and encourages soft whole foods. Some of my favorite first foods are avocado, bananas, peaches and soft cauliflower. This allows your baby to become familiar with colorful foods and different textures.

  • Only make one meal for your family. - This means NO separate meal for your children; simply, they eat what you eat!

  • Put a little bit of everything on their plate. - Give them everything to taste and encourage them to eat things they are not sure of; tomatoes, beets, onions, peas, lettuce, kale, etc. Even if they only take one bite.

  • Engage your child with the foods they eat. - Ask them questions about the food they are eating. How does it taste? Is it salty or sweet? What does it feel like in your mouth? It should be fun and not a chore for them.

  • Keep It Simple = KIS! - Make meals easy: think protein, veggies and a fruit!

With so much conflicting evidence surrounding what healthy foods really are, it is important to remember that eating vegetables, as a large part of a healthy diet, has rarely (if ever) been disputed.

Become aware of the dangers of sugar to overall health & watch out for hidden sugar in the foods you feed your children. Read labels! I also follow Dr. Dane Fliedner's (Raising Sages Integrative Pediatrics) newsletter. Once you register you will get a free report on the 5 Top Tips To Preventing Disease In Children. Here is another great link on his website about Sugar...The New Drug.

For more tips and ideas on how to KIS & start them young; follow me on Instagram @staciberreydoula I would love to see your foodie pics & ideas so tag #startthemyoung #KIS and be part of the solution.

Stay tuned for future posts that explore the above healthy steps in detail.

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