As my daughter is getting older and TV, unfortunately, is becoming a bigger part of her life (her grandmother watches her during the day and lets her watch Disney/nick jr./etc despite me asking her not to...), she is becoming exposed to all the commercials targeted at children: sugar covered cardboard cereal, HFCS drinks, etc. etc. etc.
So the question: How can I minimize the influence? She's too young to understand the mechanics of paleo and saying "this is healthy/good for your body" doesn't hold as much weight as the kids on TV who are having SOOO much fun eating their worthless food.
And my next worry is what happens when she goes to kindergarten and all the other kids are eating the aforementioned worthless food (that she's never eaten herself) and they share it with her... I know she'll start asking questions at that point, but I don't want her to develop a complex where she feels the need to acquire these horrible foods and hide them...
thanks for your help...
I knew a woman who worked as an herbalist and felt very strongly about what food she fed her kids. That being said, she also decided to let them make their own decisions when they weren't at home (at restaurants, a friends house, etc.). This gave her children a feeling of independence while also diminishing the chances of disordered eating.
When I was talking to her about this strategy, she said that it worked really well because children are very in-tune with their bodies. If you start them out with a healthy food foundation when they are young and eat most of their meals at home, they will notice how industrial foods affect the way they feel later on. Allowing them to come to their own conclusions is empowering and cultivates a healthy relationship with food.
Ahhhh ha ha ha. I am laughing so hard at your question since I can relate so much. You went from young child to future complex in about 5 seconds. Pre-worry up the wazoo. That's me. I think...hmmm...if I persuade them to eat these sardines will I have to pay for therapy in 6 years for an eating disorder? Will I be remembered as "The Mom who made us eat strange stuff?"
I'm trying to make things "not a big deal" like Everyday Paleo suggests but at the same time I do talk about sugar/wheat etc. and what makes us sick. My kids DO ask for things the other kids have but I just listen, nod and ignore it. That seems to work--they forget about it. They are 5 and 6.
For the past year I changed little things here and there for them and started introducing new foods as I got more grounded in Paleo. Going to the last large assembly at school and seeing all the over-weight, puffy-faced kids made me re-double my efforts more aggressively. I just wanted to run over and hug them and give them some beef liver! Ahhh ha ha.
To answer your question....I don't think you can minimize the influence. I think it's going to be like anything else...they look to you for the boundaries. And...I think they like the boundaries. It's a safety thing maybe? Plus...I don't push perfection on them. They still eat cereal and pizza with Daddy.
I don't forbid anything. I just control their lunches and snacks and try to tell them things about food. Like..."What foods are good for us!?" They yell, "Meat and Fat!" I also find that letting them help cook dinner and make their own lunches helps. They get really excited and don't think about the food as much as the fact that THEY made it. They love to make coconut milk ice cream in this easy ice cream maker we have, for example. They love to crack eggs.
It's not easy though..my daughter will love something and suddenly say..."I don't like that anymore." In my head I think, "Ok great. I'll just put some toxic grains in your lunch then cause I'm all out of ideas!"
Lots of kids from all different backgrounds/ethnicities have to to conform food-wise in society...vegetarians, Muslim kids, Jewish kids and these parents have the same challenges. I think we just have to do the best we can and hope they adopt our philosophy.
And...you are very lucky!!! Your daughter is young and so you've got lots of time to get her taste buds going in the right direction. You're going to do great! Good luck. :)
I have young kids and while they do watch TV, they almost never ask for stuff in TV commercials, so when your daughter is at home, you don't have much to worry about. One thing I would suggest is to let go a little bit and let her be a "normal" kid. Believe it or not, your positive influence at home will make a bigger impact on her than what she learns at school. By all means pack lunches, make them Paleo, let her learn to enjoy healthy food, but don't freak out when you find out she was eating sugar covered gummy worm cotton candy pixie stix at her first school party hosted by some room mom who thinks that low fat cream cheese covered pasta with a handful of frozen corn tossed in is a healthy family dinner. Let her be a kid. Kids have to make a lot of decisions on their own and diet is not excluded. Good luck - the fact that you have concerns in the first place means you're doing a great job!
For lunches I recommend checking out familygrokumentarian's blog for awesome bentobox lunches that she packs - I make very similar lunches for daycare, and the other daycare parents are always asking me what I pack my son for lunch and how I get him to eat it all (apparently other kids at daycare want his food, not the other way around).
I think the main thing is to make the food look fun and appealing, and don't shy away from fruits and other 'sweeter' paleo foods for the lunch.
I feel your worry. My son was a young child when cereals were 60% sugar frosted with pure sugar.
I managed to raise him on "healthy" foods and whole grains and he'd never had a cavity when he reached 18. I made home-made bread and desserts, etc., and he had very little highly processed food. What did he do? As soon as he was on his own he lived on sugar, soda and junk for years and ruined his teeth and his gut. He's more sickly than I even though he eats SHAD (supposedly healthy American diet) now.
My grandson, who is now 17 and lives with me, has also been inundated with commercials and junk food all his life. I make sure he knows why I am eating as I am and which foods I think are least healthy and I let him eat whatever he wants. He eats a base of my foods but still eats cereal (he did switch to rice) and drinks a soda every day.
I'm not sure what the real solution is--our kids are influenced by us but they also have a natural urge to be "different" from us. At some point, all you can do is share your reasons and hold your breath.
Don't worry! My four-year-old is in preschool this year. The parents are responsible for bringing snacks for the class several times a year on a rotation (though I suspect that our name is put on more than it should be, which I will explain shortly). Every day I get home from work and ask my daughter what was for snack at school today. Sadly, her most frequent answer is, "Junk!" I ask her what it was and she explains, generally with disgust. Yesterday's conversation was as follows:
Me: What was for snack at school today, buddy? Autumn: Junk! Me: Oh, what was it? Autumn: Skittles and cake. Can you believe that? Me: Did you eat it? Autumn: No. It was gross.
When I ask her what she wants to bring when it is our turn, she always responds with a great answer, like apples and nut butter, or yogurt and raisens. This is also why I believe we are on the list more often than other parents. The teachers have commented on how much they appreciate our healthy snacks.
Trust in yourself and your good parenting skills. Children pick up on these things much more than they pick up on the crap on TV. Leading by example is what is going to make the difference for your kids, because they look up to you much more than they do the TV. My kids love fruit and vegetables, and I'm sure yours will too, if you eat like we do.
Autumn does get a bit upset because nobody else likes her snacks, but she is plumb tickled to have something "heafy" on her snack days :)
I would limit the amount of television if you could. I always keep a constant communication going about health and what healthy foods are. We talk a lot about what the difference between organic foods, natural foods, raw foods, and what effect the different types have on your body. I think the best option is to just give them the tools to make the right decisions and set a good example - they will likely follow.
Streaming Netflix has been our savior on that front so far. We have a ROKU box so we can stream it on the TV (way easier to use and less expensive than a DVR, and the remote only has 9 buttons so even the little guy has figured it out). We have gotten almost all of our kid content that way since we started letting the little guy watch TV.
The downside is the occasions when we watch live TV, we are absolutely bombarded with, "I want that!" after each commercial (even if it is for something that isn't even for kids like shaving cream), so the data is not in yet whether we have made the right decision by keeping him away from it completely, rather than desensitizing him to it through exposure.
I am fortunate that my son only watches Discovery channel videos on Astrology and Dinosaurs on Netflix (no commercials). It may be a little unhealthy as he seems to obsess an awful lot over a modern meteoric armageddon for a 7-year-old, but not as unhealthy as having a white cartoon rabbit tell him that brightly colored sugar-corn frankenfood is "for kids"... or having PSA's tell him that peanut butter sandwiches are great "fuel" for an "active lifestyle".
Paleo 4 Kids - Meal & Snack Ideas? 10 Answers