Friday, November 20, 2009

Get Your Kids Off the Crack

A healthy start to your day.

Yes, that is what sugar is to our bodies.  It's addictive as crack and packed with a slew of health detriments worthy of being called a drug.  So today I am going to help any parents out there by providing some useful information and case stories to help you get your kids to eat healthy (and you yourself if you haven't taken the plunge!).  By healthy I mean: meats and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and NO sugar, NO grains, NO legumes, and NO dairy.  Difficult mission?  Not really as difficult as you may think.  Cue Scrooged voice over: "Your life might just depend on it."

Why bother?

Here are just a few reasons to change your children's diet:

1.  Their health.  Equipping your kids with the most healthy digestive system you can will help them fight off bugs that kids so frequently catch.  You are also setting up their bodies to resist disease and such prevalent problems plaguing our children as obesity and even cancer.  Check out all those healthy veggies I have been describing.  Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals are necessary NOT optional.  Kids need protein, fat, and carbohydrate at every meal to help balance their hormones and avoid highs and lows in blood sugar.  Changing your child's diet can also help existing conditions such as asthma, MS, autism, and diabetes.  Check out Robb Wolf's site like this post for more on diabetes and read up on Loren Cordain's research on his website for more details and case studies.  If you knew you had a possible remedy for these conditions or could protect against them, wouldn't you give it a try?  

2.  Their body image.  You are setting your kids down the right path when you care about what they eat.  You are showing them how important good food choices are and how they are an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  Eating healthy will inevitably lead to a healthy-looking body.  No, they won't be paper thin models and no, they won't be obese.  Neither is okay or healthy.  You are showing them that food is fuel to help maintain bodily systems, build muscle, and allow for growth.  Along with exercise (like CrossFit!), your kids will develop healthy, toned bodies that are useful for reaching their fitness goals.  The perks of looking good in a bathing suit for your teen are just that: perks.  The real goals should be getting one more pullup, climbing the rope faster, finishing a workout faster with heavier weight and better technique, and achieving that difficult skill for the first time.  A healthy body comes from exercise and nutrition.  You can't have one without the other.

Check out this Dove commercial showing a model's transformation and how our perception of beauty is distorted.  Every young girl (and boy) should watch this.

Here is the take from a reporter on the photoshop extravaganza in our media: Part 1 and Part 2.

3.  Their well-being and mental clarity.  Giving the kids the tools to balance their diet with healthy protein, fat, and carbohydrates is like teaching them math or reading.  With these tools they can soar.  Their mental clarity will be pronounced.  No more highs and lows as their blood sugar roller coasters from the last sugar-laden meal.  Many teachers have reported remarkably better concentration at school from children following these dietary guidelines.  Here is evidence of improved test scores, better discipline, and improved health from a principal who banned sugar.  Balancing the nutrients and fueling the body with what it needs also protects against rapid mood swings and depression.  I am not saying that your teenagers will be angels, but if you can help them gain more control over their mental state, wouldn't it be worth it?  Eating healthy just makes you feel good.  Give it a try!

4.  Their values.  By cleaning up your children's diet, you are showing how much you care about your children and value their health.  By changing your diet to eliminate most processed foods, you are changing their value systems to respect local, organic sources for their food and to care about the process foods undergo to get to the table.  You are making them think about where their food comes from and to better connect with it.  Each trip together to a farmer's market and allowing your child a free-for-all to find fruit and veggies of his/her choice can be like a trip to the toy store or candy store.  Cook and prepare your meals together as a family activity.  Let these new experiences help define for your child what is healthy and fun.  Help your children respect the environment and their foods by making the right choices yourself.  Lead by example.

5.  Their future.   You have the means to send your kids down the right path right now.  The decisions you make now will echo throughout their lives.  If you give a kid childhood obesity, he will battle it throughout his adult life.  The same goes for the other side of the coin.  If you give your kids a healthy childhood, they will grow strong and be buffered against the not-so-wise decisions they may make later in life.  Imagine if you had a healthy diet and CrossFit when you were growing up.  What kind of a beast would you be today?  Check out CrossFit Kids HQ for examples of said beasts growing up with the benefit of CrossFit and healthy nutrition.  They are the role models we want for our kids.

If you could raise your kids so that they have the tools to lead a long, healthy life, wouldn't you make the effort?  Right now, by throwing away that leftover Halloween candy and purging the house of all high fructose corn syrup-laden foods, grains, and sugar you can make a difference.  It isn't that hard when it comes right down to it.  Some discomfort, yes, but time will win this war.  If you can hold up your resolve, soon the kids will stop asking for that candy bar or trip to McDonald's.  Instead, allow them to pick their meals and treats from healthy choices at the store or restaurant.  You will be surprised not by the limitations, but by the opportunities and bounty of real food that is out there.  Let your children's lapses into their old life and diet come from outside your control and soon your kids will realize that the sugar/grain hangover they feel after a sleepover binge isn't really worth it or at least definitely not something they want to do everyday.

Most importantly, you are their parent.  You can do this.  The rewards speak for themselves.

How Can I Get Started?

Here are some amazing resources to help you make this change as easy as possible.

1.  If you are just going to read one source for curiosity's sake, this is it.  This blog post at Organic and Thrifty is about how a mom got her kids to follow a gluten-free diet.  While gluten-free is a step in the right direction, it is best to give up ALL grains and sugars and even dairy since it is just concentrated grains (unless you switch to raw 100% grass-fed milk).  Sometimes it takes a celiac child to force this issue, but imagine what you can do if you make this change voluntarily and don't wait for such a problem to force your hand!  I love her thorough article detailing her personal experience and how to make it happen in your own life.  Please read this!

2.  Another great read is a father's experience and recommendations for how you can do the same at CrossFit California City.  He is straightforward, and the advice he gives is effective.

3.  Here is CrossFit Norcal's answer to how to get kids to eat paleo.  Simple and straightforward.

4.  The CrossFit Journal has a free article called "Getting off the crack" by Nicole Carroll.  This is an adult's perspective of embarking upon the zone diet.

5.  More brevity needed?  Here is CrossFit Kids nutritional advice:
Sane nutrition for kids in 150 words

Our goal with kids isn't to get them on the zone, but to get them to think and make good choices about what they eat. Our goal is to teach them very basic concepts, sugar is bad, protein is good and you need to eat some in every meal. Nuts and seeds are good fats. Eat them, don't avoid them. Pasta, white bread, and white rice are not that good for you, stuff that's red, yellow, green and found in the fruit and vegetable aisle is good for you. Eat a lot of it.

Look at your plate, make a fist, eat that much meat every meal; turn your hand over and fill it with nuts and seeds, eat that much good fat, fill the rest of your plate with stuff you found in the fruit and vegetable aisle. Fill your plate this way at every meal, don't eat more.

6.  Still have some arguments against the big change?  Here are six reasons NOT to eat paleo and why they DON'T hold up.  Let this be your ammunition when others question your "insanity."

7.  Robb Wolf chimes in with Kids, Paleo and Nutrient Density with a scientific approach to show that paleo is good for kids, and NO they will not miss anything vital to their nutrition--in fact, they will be far healthier!  

The First Step: Breakfast

Many people say the most important and effective first step is changing breakfast.  Throw away those high glycemic, sugary breakfast cereals and exchange them for real food.

My go-to breakfast is eggs (farmer's market or omega-enriched) and sausage (Aidell's varieties that are sugar, grain, and soy free) with either some bread or an apple (microwave it for a minute or two for a great warm apple breakfast suitable for this chilly weather!).  I also sometimes change it up and have leftover chicken or turkey sauteed with apple and cinnamon for a quick skillet breakfast.  I also used to go crazy with the omelets and veggies, which is probably preferable to the fruit.  For example, simply toss in some spinach, mushrooms, and summer squash for a hearty meal with your eggs.  Leftovers are also an option (mmmmnn  reheated spaghetti with meat sauce), as are Egg Cupcakes 2.0 courtesy of CrossFit Norcal for a more portable breakfast.  Breakfast is also the easiest meal to eat out in restaurants with omelets abounding any breakfast menu.  Just exchange the toast for a fruit cup.

For more on healthy meal ideas, check out my post Lunch Time for some simple lunch and snack ideas.  I have already posted some tasty dinner ideas and will post more in the future!

Are You Inspired to Make the Change? 

Let me know what else you need to help you get started and I will try to help in any way that I can! If you have already taken the plunge, let us know how you accomplished it!


  1. I just found your blog, and your posts are so informative. I too have been eradicating sugar from our diet. Now the only sweetener I use at all is a bit of honey on the morning oatmeal. Thanks for this blog, and I love this post!


  2. Great list. Add to it the recent study proving an up to 5 point decrease in IQ in kids who ate mostly junk food.