The key is to be consistent! Whatever strategy you choose, be sure to stay consistent. If your kids figure out they may get their old foods back by throwing a tantrum, that’s what they’ll keep doing.
For two-parent households, it’s vital that both adults stay on the same page about what is and isn’t allowed: frustrated kids are quick to take advantage of any inconsistency. If your kids refuse to eat dinner, it won’t hurt them to skip a meal – vegetables have a way of magically becoming less “icky” the hungrier they are. Be encouraging of their efforts and stick to your plan.
Involve your kids in grocery shopping and meal prep
One of the simplest ways to get your kids excited about their new food is to involve them in the process.
- Encourage kids to help you in the kitchen with basic tasks like washing veggies.
- Older kids can help shop, chop, peel, and clean up.
- Teenagers can take charge of the family dinner for a night.
- Ask your kids for their input when you plan meals, and then take them to the grocery store to help you pick out the ingredients.
Fun healthy Snacks for Kids
- One way to make almost any food fun to eat is to create a mini version: mini omelets, mini meatloaves, and mini burgers are quick and easy ways to make dinner kid-sized – these can all be made in muffin tins (or mini-muffin tins).
- Cut deli meats with cookie cutters, or use an egg mold to keep low carb snacks interesting.
- Fruit or berries in small amounts are an easy, tasty snack.
- Almond milk chocolate milk (sweeten with stevia), or add chia seeds to make it into a tapioca-style pudding.
- Hard-boiled eggs are another nutritious option that you can easily make ahead of time and store in the fridge for days.
- Try baking crackers from alternative forms of grain such as almond and coconut flour. Enjoy them with butter, nut butter, guacamole, or deli meats.
- Jerky and small packets of nuts are easy to find and portable.
- Pack a hot lunch in a thermos (soups, stews & chili etc.), lunches don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming.
- Surprise your child with a colorful, healthy Bento lunchbox packed with leftover meat, fruit salad, hard-boiled eggs, chopped veggies like carrot or celery sticks, and some strawberries etc. Other items you can include are:
- Mini meatloaf
- Mini quiche/omelette
- Beans/baked beans
- Cottage cheese
Add plenty of good fats. Keep them fuller for longer. Use cold meat or lettuce as a ‘wrap’. Take a slice of ham or roast beef and wrap it around veggies (asparagus, sliced peppers, alphalfa sprouts)
Be Patient & Lead by Example - Kids typically want what you find delicious to eat. Embrace the challenge. You don’t have to be perfect family from day one. Minor setbacks along the way doesn’t mean you should give up entirely – keep at it, it’ll get easier with time.
HELP REDUCE BELLY FAT
Research has shown that swapping your cooking oils for varieties like avocado oil that are rich in monounsaturated and oleic fatty acids can spot-reduce abdominal fat, which may decrease the risk for metabolic syndrome—the name for a combination of negative health markers associated with weight gain. A study in the journal Diabetes Care found that a diet rich in monounsaturated fat may actually prevent body fat distribution around the belly by down regulating the expression of certain fat genes. One tablespoon of avocado oil is about 120 calories and 10 grams of monounsaturated fat—a nutritional profile almost identical to extra virgin olive oil. But unlike EVOO, avocado oil has a very high smoke point, so you can use it for sautés and stir-frys without risk of creating free radicals that can harm your health.
STABILIZES BLOOD SUGAR
An avocado also provides nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients essential for healthy weight management, including 14 grams of satiating fiber and 66 percent (60 micrograms) of your daily need for vitamin K—a nutrient that helps regulate sugar metabolism and insulin sensitivity. Leafy greens are an even richer source of the vitamin, so adding avocado to your salads will give you the best bang for your buck.
HELPS YOU WORKOUT LONGER
Pre-workout supplements claim to give you that extra boost, helping you work out longer than usual. Research has shown that eating an avocado can provide the same energy boost naturally! Bottom line: swap fried foods, baked goods and butter for snacks and oils that are high in monounsaturated fat like fresh avocado or avocado oil for a clean energy boost that keeps your metabolism burning, even after you’ve left the gym.
THEY KEEP YOU FULL FOR HOURS
A scoop of guacamole may be one of the most effective hunger-squashers known to man. In a study published in Nutrition Journal, participants who ate half a fresh avocado with lunch reported a 40 percent decreased desire to eat for hours afterwards. At only 60 calories, a two-tablespoon serving of guacamole (on top of eggs, salads, grilled meats, etc.) can provide the same satiety benefit with even more of a flavor-punch. Additional studies have shown that they increase meal satiety, and increase time to hunger, which makes avocados are a weight loss friendly food. Avocados are also high in fiber, and very low in carbs, two attributes that should also help promote weight loss, at least in the context of a healthy, real food based diet.
THEY’RE A NUTRIENT BOOSTER
Vegetables are a dieter’s best friend, but you won't get much benefit from a garden salad without adding a little fat - Avocados are vitamin-rich and chock-full of important nutrients that can shrink your waistline. And when it comes to fat, the type found in avocados reigns supreme - Studies have shown that adding avocado to salad allowed participants to absorb three to five times more carotenoids (disease fighting compounds associated with improved weight and fat loss). Give your greens the ultimate nutrient boost by adding guacamole, avocado slices, or a tablespoon of avocado oil-based vinaigrette.
THEY’RE A FREE-RADICAL FIGHTER
Free radicals in your body attack your cell’s mitochondria has a negative effect on your metabolism. Antioxidants in fresh fruits and vegetables can help neutralize some free radicals, but they can’t reach the mitochondria - that’s a problem; when your mitochondria aren’t working properly, your metabolism runs less efficiently . Research has found that monounsaturated-rich avocado oil can help mitochondria survive the free-radical attack.
So there you have it – hope you try it out for yourself!
Magnesium is perhaps one of the most overlooked minerals. This is especially important because, an estimated 80 percent of North Americans are deficient in it. The health consequences of deficiency can be significant, and can be aggravated by many, if not most, drug treatments.
According the book The Miracle of Magnesium (by Carolyn Dean), Magnesium deficiency triggers or causes the following conditions:
- Anxiety and Panic attacks: Magnesium (Mg) normally keeps adrenal stress hormones under control.
- Asthma: Both histamine production and bronchial spasms increase with Mg deficiency.
- Blood clots: Mg has an important role to play in preventing blood clots and keeping the blood thin-much like aspirin but without the side effects.
- Bowel disease: Mg deficiency slows down the bowel causing constipation, which could lead to toxicity and malabsorption of nutrients, as well as colitis.
- Cystitis: Bladder spasms are worsened by Mg deficiency.
- Depression: Serotonin, which elevates moods, is dependent on Mg. A Mg-deficient brain is also more susceptible to allergens, foreign substances that can cause symptoms similar to mental illness.
- Detoxification: Mg is crucial for the removal of toxic substances and heavy metals such as aluminum and lead.
- Diabetes: Mg enhances insulin secretion, facilitating sugar metabolism. Without Mg insulin is not able to transfer glucose into cells. Glucose and insulin build up in the blood causing various types of tissue damage.
- Fatigue: Mg-deficient patients commonly experience fatigue because dozens of enzyme systems are under-functioning. An early symptom of Mg deficiency is frequently fatigue.
- Heart disease: Mg deficiency is common in people with heart disease. Mg is administered in hospitals for acute myocardial infarction and cardiac arrhythmia. Like any other muscle, the heart muscle requires Mg. Mg is also used to treat angina, or chest pain.
- Hypertension: With insufficient Mg, spasm of blood vessels and high cholesterol occur, both of which lead to blood pressure problems.
- Hypoglycemia: Mg keeps insulin under control; without Mg episodes of low blood sugar can result.
- Insomnia: Sleep-regulating melatonin production is disturbed without sufficient Mg.
- Kidney Disease: Mg deficiency contributes to atherosclerotic kidney failure. Mg deficiency creates abnormal lipid levels and worsening blood sugar control in kidney transplant patients.
- Liver Disease leading to liver failure: Mg deficiency commonly occurs during liver transplantation.
- Migraine: Serotonin balance is Mg-dependent. Deficiency of serotonin can result in migraine headaches and depression.
- Musculoskeletal conditions: Fibrositis, fibromyalgia, muscle spasms, eye twitches, cramps and chronic neck and back pain may be caused by Mg deficiency and can be relieved with Mg supplements.
- Nerve problems: Mg alleviates peripheral nerve disturbances throughout the whole body, such as migraines, muscle contractions, gastrointestinal spasms, and calf, foot and toe cramps. It is also used in treating central nervous symptoms of vertigo and confusion.
- Obstetrics and Gynecology: Mg prevents Premenstrual Syndrome; prevents dysmenorrhea (cramping pain during menses); is important in the treatment of infertility; and alleviates premature contractions, preeclampsia, and eclampsia in pregnancy. Intravenous Mg is given in obstetrical wards for pregnancy-induced hypertension and to lessen the risk of cerebral palsy and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Mg should be a required supplement for pregnant mothers.
- Osteoporosis: Use of calcium with Vitamin D to enhance calcium absorption without a balancing amount of Mg causes further Mg deficiency, which triggers a cascade of events leading to bone loss.
- Raynaud’s Syndrome: Mg helps relax the spastic blood vessels that cause pain and numbness of the fingers.
- Tooth decay: Mg deficiency causes an unhealthy balance of phosphorus and calcium in saliva, which damages teeth.
So...what can we do about it??
Stop Draining Your Body of Magnesium
- Limit coffee, colas, salt, sugar, and alcohol
- Learn how to practice active relaxation
- Check with your doctor if your medication is causing magnesium loss (many high blood pressure drugs or diuretics cause loss of magnesium)
- Eat Foods High in Magnesium
Include the following in your diet as often as you can:
Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic
Take Magnesium Supplements
The RDA (the minimum amount needed) for magnesium is about 300 mg a day. Most of us get far less than 200 mg. Some may need much more depending on their condition. Most people benefit from 400 to 1,000 mg a day.
Plants’ Natural Defenses
Plants have developed their own toxic substances to self protect - to discourage animals and people from eating them, and to protect them from plant pathogens and adverse environmental conditions. These toxic substances, as discussed in last week’s post, have come to be known as anti-nutrients. They are present in varying quantities in many foods. Small amounts won’t do much damage but in larger amounts they can interfere with your body getting adequate nutrition, and in excessive amounts they can even be fatal.
Raw isn’t necessarily best!
Raw foods are wonderful, delicious and nutritious, but they are not necessarily good for all conditions. Especially, not for thyroid troubles. The brassicaceae family of vegetables contains glucosinolates that can inhibit iodine uptake, resulting in hypothyroidism and promoting goiter formation.
Members of the brassicaceae family include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, rutabaga, collard greens, kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and watercress.
Many people think they are doing the best thing by putting raw kale into their smoothies. It’s actually not very smart: not only for thyroid health, but for kidney health, too. Kale, as well as spinach, contains high amounts of oxalates that can promote kidney stones and other painful deposits in the body, especially in people suffering with underlying fungal infections and candida overgrowth. kale is also a goitrogenic food, meaning that it can contribute to an enlarged thyroid — a goiter. A goiter indicates that the thyroid gland is not functioning optimally.
Here’s the science on the kale-thyroid connection from the Oregon State University Micronutrient Information site:
Very high intakes of cruciferous vegetables…have been found to cause hypothyroidism (insufficient thyroid hormone) in animals. There has been one case report of an 88-year-old woman developing severe hypothyroidism and coma following consumption of an estimated 1.0 to 1.5 kg/day of raw bok choy for several months. Two mechanisms have been identified to explain this effect. The hydrolysis of some glucosinolates found in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., progoitrin) may yield a compound known as goitrin, which has been found to interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. The hydrolysis of another class of glucosinolates, known as indole glucosinolates, results in the release of thiocyanate ions, which can compete with iodine for uptake by the thyroid gland. Increased exposure to thiocyanate ions from cruciferous vegetable consumption or, more commonly, from cigarette smoking, does not appear to increase the risk of hypothyroidism unless accompanied by iodine deficiency. One study in humans found that the consumption of 150 g/day (5 oz/day) of cooked Brussels sprouts for four weeks had no adverse effects on thyroid function. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/food-beverages/cruciferous-vegetables
It’s the dose that makes a poison. If people have hypothyroidism or they’re taking thyroid medication, then they should check with their doctor. But even in this case, reasonable amounts shouldn’t be a problem. Now, if people have a tall glass of kale juice every single day, then it gets into the unknown territory…but normal, reasonable amounts of eating should not be a problem. A regular person [with no thyroid issues] who eats several servings of cruciferous vegetables a week should not have problems.
Safer ways to include kale in your diet:
1. Cook Your Kale
The goitrogenic properties of kale become dramatically lessened when kale — or any other cruciferous vegetable — is cooked. (Other veggies in this category include: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy and Chinese cabbage. Arugula, horseradish, radish, wasabi and watercress are also cruciferous vegetables.)
2. Eat Seaweed
Kale on its own does not increase the risk of thyroid problems. It’s a combination of factors; including potential iodine deficiency. (One of the most common causes of goiters is iodine deficiency.) Adding seaweed or another iodine rich food to your diet may, in some cases, help you get adequate iodine.
3. Throw A Brazil Nut Into Your Smoothie
Selenium can support normal iodine levels which in turn may support a healthy thyroid. A Brazil nut or two in your daily smoothie or as a topping to any dish might help keep selenium levels strong. Alternatively, you can add a selenium supplement to your diet.
4. Switch Up Your Greens
Vary your greens. If you’re going to eat kale one day choose a non-cruciferous, non-goitrogenic veggie dish the next. There are many highly nutritious vegetables that aren’t goitrogenic, including celery, parsley, zucchini, carrots and more. Our bodies need many nutrients and by eating a variety of vegetables you’ll ensure that you don’t overload on one and skip another.
Traditional cooking methods can deactivate most of those anti-nutrients in these raw foods. Blanch kale in water, and then saute it in some fat (butter) to help your body absorb the beneficial minerals. And, skip the smoothies for a while. This doesn’t mean that you can never have another smoothie or raw kale salad, it just means to listen to your body, hear what it is saying, and make the necessary dietary adjustments that can facilitate healing.
Antinutrients are natural or synthetic compounds that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. Here is an outline of the top four:
Phytates bind to minerals in your gut preventing them from being absorbed by your body. They also suppress the absorption of iron, zinc, calcium and phosphorus. studies have also suggested that diets heavy in phytates are responsible for the widespread zinc deficiencies seen commonly in the developing world.
Phytates are most commonly found in beans, grains, seeds and legumes. Beans are the biggest concern, but good news if you’re a bean lover- soaking, sprouting and fermenting all reduce phytate levels.
Lectins are anti-nutrients that disrupt the functioning of the epithelium (the thin layer of cells lining your gut that keeps undigested food from slipping into your bloodstream). Over time, lectins in the diet will actually create holes in the epithelium, referred to as "leaky gut syndrome".
When the epithelium is compromised, incompletely-digested particles from your food can slip into your bloodstream. Your body treats these food particles as a threat and triggers an immune response that creates systemic inflammation and food sensitivities. This is a similar mechanism to how wheat gluten creates holes in the epithelium. Lectins have also been shown to disrupt gut bacteria function.
Lechtins can be found in beans and grain. Soy beans and kidney beans are the biggest concerns, however, cooking and fermenting reduce lectins quite a bit.
Saponins have a soap-like foaming property when they're added to liquid. They disrupt epithelial function and create other digestive issues. Saponins have also been connected to damaging red blood cells, inhibiting enzymes and interfering with thyroid function.
They are found in soy beans, chick peas, oats and quinoa. We've recently learned that quinoa has particularly high levels of saponins, making it a real concern.
Cooking doesn't have much of an impact, nor does sprouting or fermentation. Saponins can be removed via alcohol extraction, but this obviously isn't practical.
Oxalates interfere with calcium absorption in the body. They will also crystalize in tissues if consumed regularly, creating arthritis-like symptoms and even kidney stones. Foods with the highest oxalate levels are kale, spinach, chard and other hearty leafy greens.
Cooking will slightly reduce levels of oxalates. You can also take a calcium/magnesium supplement when eating these foods - calcium and magnesium bind to the oxalates in your stomach and prevent them from being absorbed.
HOW BAD ARE THESE ANTI-TOXINS?
What all of these plant toxins have in common is that they only have significant negative impacts if they are allowed to accumulate in the body.
Eating beans or kale once a week realistically won't have a negative impact. Our bodies are pretty good at clearing out toxins, including plant toxins, when given enough time – just make sure you aren’t eating them at every meal/several days in a row. Awareness is key – if your health (or general feeling of well-being) declines, you can start looking back at the foods you’ve been consuming as a possible culprit.
WHICH FOODS ARE THE MOST PROBLEMATIC?
Soy appears all over the list above. If the phytoestrogen and mold-toxin issues weren't enough, the high levels of plant-toxins in soy should be enough to convince you to remove it from your diet.
Quinoa - a particularly potent source of saponins, so consuming it with any regularity puts you at risk for gastrointestinal issues.
Grains, beans and legumes - with grains, plant toxins are perhaps the least of your worries, as mold contamination is realistically a much bigger issue.