Keep kids eating healthy this summer

Posted on May 29, 2016 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Heather Morgan | Special to The Sun

I love summer. Especially summer in Sonoma, where this tiny city is alive with celebrations, farmers markets, and school kids out and about enjoying all the great offerings of this amazing community. Theater, art, sports, camps, internships, you name it. Sonoma is a special place during the summer, and I feel so blessed to be part of this little slice of historic heaven.

I also work full time, though, and as much as I would love to throw down a blanket in the plaza and watch the kids do their thing, it’s just not possible on most days. In fact, as a busy working mother, I barely have time to think ahead about what they will eat while I am away working, let alone shop for food.

Can you relate? Even if you are not a full time working parent, managing a busy family during the summer is a full time job in its self. And unfortunately, being busy often affects our ability to make healthy choices for ourselves, and for our families. So how do we keep our kids healthy this summer?

Easy, do what Granny did…

When it comes to health, I think we way over-think things. My granny, who would have been 99 this year, did it with ease. Three square meals, much of which were from her garden or delivered from local farmers, no snacks, because we didn’t need them. Our bodies were satisfied with well-balanced nutrition, so our brains weren’t telling us to eat more. Besides, we were way too busy having fun exploring outdoors to stop for something as boring as food. The only thing that came from a package in her house was butter, flour, sugar, and vanilla, for those extra special days when she decided to bake cookies, or a pie…

Granny was not a nutrition expert. She nourished us through intuition. She was a product of her environment, which was fresh, local, GMO free, and unprocessed. I can still hear the words, “eat an egg a day for a smart thinking brain.” Somewhere along the way, the media started telling us that eggs caused heart disease. She disagreed. I never doubted her intuition, and I remained skeptical about the science. She was right.

So here is what granny did when we visited her during the summer:

Breakfast. She always fed us “real” food for breakfast. No cereal, no sugary yogurt, no pop tarts, or frozen waffles. It was eggs, bacon, fruit, and sometimes leftover meat and veggies from dinner with an egg. Eggs were cooked in the bacon grease or in butter. She couldn’t understand why companies would make fruit into juice for drinking. Her intuition told her it was best left alone… We drank water or milk.

Bacon was from local, well-treated pigs who were raised by people who cared. Milk came from the local farmer, delivered fresh, unprocessed. This nourishment lasted us well into the afternoon, when she called us in for lunch. Until that point, we didn’t even think about food because our minds were well nourished, which allowed us to remain heavily steeped in imaginative play.

Lunch. She would often ask us go to the garden to get tomatoes, cucumbers, and the like. She would slice them and put the plate of garden delights on the table for us to gobble up as we watched her magically whip up chicken salad sandwiches on bread that was made from simple, organic, non-GMO ingredients. While other kids got Wonder Bread, we got the brown stuff. I still remember how amazing those tomatoes were….

Still no sugar in our day, so far. That is rare in children today.

Dinner. She said Liver was one of nature’s perfect foods. She also was a fan of potatoes. She said potatoes gave the working man energy to do amazing things. Today, most people are on their bums most of the day, and potatoes, which are rich in minerals, and other health giving properties, are considered to cause diabetes. My intuition tells me that Granny would argue that poor soils, GMOs, and sedentary lifestyles cause diabetes, not potatoes…

We had, again, fresh fruits and veggies from the garden, including corn, which was non-GMO, and to this day, one of the best things I have ever eaten. Watermelon, and creamed cabbage with her meatloaf, I still remember the simplicity of her food, made with whole ingredients.

Sugar happened. As part of an experience, not as meals or snacks. She took us to the root beer barrel or local soda fountain for an ice-cream cone or float. We would walk to the Five and Dime for candies once in a while, after all it was Granny’s house.

The only people who snacked were pregnant mothers.

The reality, however, is times have changed. We do have to seek out what was simply a way of life back then. We are fortunate in Sonoma to have fresh, local, organic, humanely treated animals for our daily consumption. In fact, it’s a whole lot easier than most people think.

In summary, have real, fresh, foods on hand. If it came from the ground or had eyes, and was not treated with chemicals, eat it. Drink water, lots of it. And remember something granny always did so intuitively – every time you eat, make sure it includes protein, fat, and healthy carbohydrates, meaning fruits and veggies. An example would be an apple with almonds. Veggies with nuts or hummus, nitrate free sliced meats with lettuce and tomatoes or pickles.

A few more tips for your kids

  • Avoid the chemically-laden sports drinks for hydration. Choose coconut water, pickle juice, or watermelon for electrolytes.
  • Limit electronics before bed and stick to a decent bedtime schedule. Sleep is still number two behind nutrition. Our kids need lots of good quality sleep, especially after a highly charged summer day!
  • Allow them to soak up the sun. This modern day habit of lathering kids bodies with unnatural chemicals is a serious problem. In moderation, the sun can be very healing and health promoting in many ways. With a diet high in fruits and veggies (anti-oxidants) to help protect them, kids should have some fun in the sun without fake chemicals covering them. Cover with clothing, hats, and shade, as needed to avoid sunburn, not fake chemicals.
  • Read labels and avoid sugar as much as possible. Avoid fake sugars, too, which are just as harmful in other ways. Sugar brings down immunity, affects focus, mood, and energy. By removing sugary drinks you can have a big impact not his important aspect of nutrition.

I wish you and your families a happy, healthy, and safe summer.



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