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My older children have bitten off the sacred oreo and dined on coco puffs for breakfast for years.  Just over a year ago, I decided enough – time to kick sugar and processed foods to the curb! I started with big dreams of getting it all out of the house and then realized what I really wanted was to teach my children moderation and how to make healthier choices.  I truly believe there is no harm in eating oreos or sugary cereal – in moderation.

During the course of the last year and a half, my children have watched me lose body fat, build muscle, gain an incredible amount of energy and self confidence. All of this was accomplished by eating (not dieting) a lot of lean proteins, complex carbs, healthy fats and exercising daily.  Teenage girls have a tendency to believe if they want to look like the girls on TV or Social Media that they need to “diet” or not eat. I recently overheard one of my teenage daughter’s friends tell my daughter “Your mom must never eat”. My daughter’s response was beautiful to me. Her response was “NO! She eats every couple of hours, just not processed foods or junk”. My daughters are learning the importance of making healthy food choices and portions and exercising to keep their bodies strong and healthy.

Our children get enough processed foods and junk outside of the house with school, clubs and sporting activity snacks. Because of this, we limit what we bring into the house. Here are some small changes we made:

  • Give them a grocery store cheat treat – I allow them to each add one item to my grocery list a week (Sugary cereal or Granola bars or Gogurt) This helps them understand that “treats” in moderation are perfectly fine.
  • Involve them in the kitchen – We have made it a group effort to find healthier ways to make some of our old favorites or grocery items healthier. My older girls look on Pinterest for “clean” recipe ideas and we have had much success doing “research and development”  with replacing sugar, flour and butter in a lot of our recipes with healthier options (raw honey, pure maple syrup, stevia, oat flour, coconut oil, etc)
  • When all else fails, I do resort to being sneaky – Yes, sometimes I just need to sneak the good stuff under their little noses. I will make healthy snacks “cute” and interesting. For example instead of handing them a banana and calling it a snack, I will cut it into rings, top each with a touch of natural peanut butter and a raspberry and give it a cute name like Santa hats. Creativity works well with the little ones.

My experience has been if you go all or nothing, you are going to set yourself up for failure. By starting with these small changes, the kids have become more open to the idea of replacing processed foods with healthier, whole foods. Small changes have definitely lead to bigger changes!

Photo Credit: pbs.org