My family doesn’t eat a perfect diet, just an excellent one that’s close to perfect . . . when we’re at home! We do have an active travel and social life. If we go to a BBQ or a party, we eat a big plate of green salad or veggies and fruit, and then my kids eat what they want after that.
But we always stay away from the short list of five “NEVER EAT” foods, see below. If we travel, I take my BlendTec Total Blender with me, to make kefir smoothies and green smoothies in hotel rooms, condos, and the homes of family we visit.
I don’t want my kids to feel left out, deprived, or weird in social situations. If I told you I never ate chocolate or ice cream, or if I said I eat nothing but salad at restaurants, I’d be lying—and, you wouldn’t relate to me anyway.
I just try not to do it often, and we don’t have junk food at home. I recently completed a year of “no sugar.” Whenever possible, I take easy, nutritious meals or snacks (like sprouted-wheat tortillas spread with homemade almond butter and folded in half) to the park, the soccer or baseball game, or the movie.
People say to me, “But you’ll just give them ‘food issues!’” and suggest that a better solution to raising kids is to stock the pantry with trash food and let them eat whatever they want, at will. This makes no sense to me on several levels:
- I am the parent and have a responsibility to safeguard their health. I might not be popular for saying this, but here it is anyway: supplying kids nonstop Doritos, Cheetos, soda, Twinkies, candy, and hot dogs is parental negligence.
- Even if my kids eat nonstop junk when they leave my home as an adult, they will have had excellent nutrition during nearly two decades, leading to the building of healthy tissues and organs at the most important developmental stages.
- I know plenty of people raised on junk food who have “food issues” leading to overeating, obesity, and poor health. Giving kids loads of junk is hardly inoculation against “food issues.”
- I personally was raised virtually vegetarian, with an emphasis on whole grains, fruits and veggies, a salad for dinner every night, and sugar minimized. I’m thankful for this good start, which has led to good understanding of nutrition principles. I have one brother who went “off the deep end” nutritionally (and has suffered major health problems consequently), but the other seven of us are healthy, open-minded—and to varying extents following what we were taught.
Even though we loosen up at social functions, I do have a few foods I would NEVER feed my kids or even allow them to eat at a party (“over my dead body” is something they’ve heard me say):
- Soda. It’s just plain toxic acid and keeps your dentist in business: my children avoid it on their own because of the deleterious effects for athletes who NEED their oxygenated red blood cells!
- Hot dogs/processed meat. People call them “cancer sticks” for a reason. A very old study of children with cancer found only one thing in common, that these kids ate more than 11 hot dogs per month. Hot dogs and processed meat like sausage, bacon, and bologna are high in the most carcinogenic food additives known to man, nitrites and nitrates. If you like hot dogs, get the vegan, nitrate-free kind at the health food store.
- Pork. It takes your body far too long to digest—true of meat in general, but pork putrefies in the digestive tract the longest.
- Hydrogenated fat. It’s devastating to every cell it encounters. It’s not food, and it’s highly toxic. Partially hydrogenated fat, too, which is in lots of cheap peanut butters. Avoid fried foods like potato chips, and especially fried foods in fast food restaurants. Margarine and shortening are to be 100% avoided.
- Anything with MSG in it. The worst neurotoxin in our food supply, it belongs nowhere in the diet of children, or anyone who cares about their neurological system. MSG is in cream of whatever soups, Doritos, ramen noodles, salad dressings, and many other packaged foods.
I used to take “alternative” sweets to family parties and other places as well, especially when my kids were young and battling asthma. You can substitute whole-wheat flour and raw coconut palm sugar in any recipe. You can use the herbal sweetener stevia, or nutrient-rich options such as Grade B maple syrup, molasses, or honey, to sweeten other things.
That said, concentrated sweeteners are something we use very sparingly. A diet should be rich in vegetables, and most people get too much sugar, leading to acidosis and a proliferation of yeast, bacteria and fungus. So more than a couple of fruits each day is out of balance. The average American eats 100 times more sugar than their pancreas can process! Thus, in addition to the diagnosed diabetes epidemic, millions of undiagnosed people have insulin resistance that will eventually progress to diabetes. It’s very difficult to lose weight or control your weight when you are insulin resistant.
But to keep you or your family from feeling “deprived” in the real world, you can make pudding, gelatin dessert, cookies, donuts, cake, popsicles, really anything! Check out my recipes that include all those things, and substitute whole grains and natural sweeteners for sugar and flour in any baking recipe.