Getting yourself, kids and family interested in natural foods and life choices
By: Anjali Sanghi. Copyright: 2016
In my experience, kids are completely attuned to the inner being of the parents. When you truly believe in what you are doing, attaining truly wonderful results becomes- effortless. Truly believing in power of Nature and the vibrancy which natural foods can bring in our lives- can be termed as the key to getting kids interested in natural foods and life choices. It is thus very different ‘to be on a raw vegan diet’ from ‘leading a raw vegan lifestyle’ (whether partial or full). Please remember that start making changes in your children’s lifestyle only when you are sure about what you are doing. If you are still unsure about whether fruits and greens would be good for your child or not in comparison to junk food, then please take time to educate yourself and also learn about their nutritional values in detail.
Idea # 1
CREATING TASTE FOR NEW FOODS
- There is a beautiful, loving way to introduce any new fresh foods to your-self, your child and your family. Give your child just one small bite or a t-spoon of what you want to introduce in her diet consistently for 10 days. It’s wonderful to observe how kids are ready to have a bowlful of it just on the 9th or the 10th
- This is a way in which several mothers introduce “Green Smoothies” and “Coconut Milk” to their kids. Starting with a T-spoon and ending with a glass-full just within a week or two. Please remember to give them tastier organic produce. The food being tried must be in it’s real state and not processed. Example: a banana must be a ripe original one and not in the form of baked banana in a bread or cake.
- Also some people may naturally prefer watery or dense fruits. It is better to follow their choices in the beginning and not force feed anything.
Idea # 2
- As well known through ‘Waldorf Education’ kids only imitate almost till the age of 7 years. Getting kids to change food and lifestyle choices to healthier, natural ones is thus much more easier during this time. They will eat what you will eat. However if they are still not used to having lots of fresh foods then they may take time in creating the new habits. Generally we have observed that if a parent is having a new food the child may take upto 1 week to 3 months to give it a try willingly. Once they want to taste it themselves, they will continue to have it for a long-long time.
- Also get your kids to meet other kids who eat fruits and vegetables. This way always works. Same applies to elders. Going to picnic, potluck or eating with families who prefer nourishing raw foods gets your work done very easily. If you do not have such a group, you can start one in your area.
Idea # 3
INVOLVING KIDS IN BUYING THE PRODUCE
- Get kids involved in buying fresh produce even if they are young. When they get the opportunity to see and touch food, they are more likely to try it. This has been proven worldwide over the years. They might also pick up a few new things to try and end up having them regularly. Try to choose a market or vendor which has fresh produce to avoid diversion.
- If you buy organic and order online or over the phone for home delivery then you can create the list with your child before ordering.. Always order what they like in a greater, yet optimum quantity to ensure it’s availability.
Idea # 4
STOCKING PRODUCE IN ABUNDANCE
- Stocking fruits and vegetables freely in the house gives an opportunity to the child and other adults in the family to go upto them whenever they are hungry, instead of looking for another alternative. If the fruits are stocked within the reach of children (eg. On a shelf next to the dining table) then it gives ample opportunity for this idea to work. This way you as a parent will also have them regularly.
- Also, you can ensure to gradually or completely remove the food that you do not want them to have from the your house, itself. Instead replace all of it with fresh fruits and vegs. Remember to stock fresh produce and use the one’s before that may have a chance to go stale.
Idea # 5
GETTING YOURSELF & KIDS TO PREPARE FRESH FOOD DISHES
- Getting kids involved in preparing smoothies, dressings, salad and other dishes makes them really inquisitive to try out their creations. Small kids love to peel, spiralize noodles, create orange juice, toss salads. When you create your recipes with your own hands, you can clearly see how much less time they take prepare, Also the resources used are much lesser. It is well said: Self realization is the best realization.
Idea # 6
- This is what kids really love to do. The culmination by finally washing the utensils in which they ate, gives them a satisfaction for completing the task and an opportunity to look forward to do it all over again. Utensils in which fruits and vegetables have been eaten, require only water or at most warm water for cleaning. They generally do not require soap. Kids love to play with water and this activity helps support their instinct to be near it and also learn how to conserve it.
Idea # 7
ORGANIZING FRUIT PARTIES
- Organizing fruit parties, fresh food get-togethers, play-dates with other kids of same age is the best way to help motivate you and your kids to have more fresh foods. Remember to keep plenty of handy seasonal wild, natural or organic fruits like bananas, oranges, strawberries, grapes, apples etc. They can be accompanied with cakes made from fresh fruits, smooties, fruit lollypops, or any other innovative recipes of your choice.
Idea # 8
EDUCATE YOUR CHILD THROUGH STORIES AND SONGS
- Several countries including India have a very rich cultural stories and songs based around living in nature, forests, springs, animals and eating fruits, greens. An age appropriate story can be found or created and narrated daily. This really helps develop the interest of the child in their lifestyle choice, their food and how it grows. We were greatly inspired how Waldorf education by Late Dr. Rudolf Steiner has clearly shown the way of story narration and presentation for each age-group, To know more you can contact a Waldorf or Steiner school nearby or search online.
- You can also read our stories like: ‘I Can Eat A Rainbow’ or ‘ The Little Monkey’s Birthday’.
Idea # 9
GROW FOOD TOGETHER
- This helps the child connect directly to their food. Growing food together can be done in your own garden, backyard or even in small earthen pots. Several plants like tomatoes, lemons, berries, fruit vines, greens like mint (pudina), coriander (dhania), amaranth/dandelion and other leaves can grow easily in homes. We grow Sunflowers in our home and put back some seeds in the soil and still get lots of seeds for ourselves.
- If this is also not available then you can create sprouts for yourself or together with your children, just in your kitchen.
Idea # 10
IDENTIFYING EDIBLE FOODS IN NATURE
- A nature walk can be organized with someone who understands edible foods in nature. These days, many people welcome all those who are interest in learning about Wild edibles. You can also look this up online.
Idea # 11
PUTTING UP PAINTING AND POSTERS OF FRESH FOOD PICTURES
- This works really well with children and grown-ups too. The more you look at the pictures of the beautiful fruits and vegetables around the house, the more you want to have them.
VOLUNTEERING IN A FARM OR A FRUIT FOREST.
- Get kids to volunteer or work in an organic farm with you, even from a younger age.
REDUCING STRESS AND COMFORT EATING
- It is well known that increase in stress leads directly to comfort eating in all ages including children. This has been found to suppress emotions and stress, rather than reliving them. Fresh foods help to relieve, detox and handle stress easily. For kids, making required changes lovingly in parenting styles, education and environment, especially for sensitive one’s works wonders. Introducing exercise and play time is like pure nectar for their soul nourishment.
- Creating well combined, fresh recipes, also help during this transition phase.
USE OF MOTHER TONGUE
- It is well known that a child is able to do a task better, quicker and soulfully if lovingly spoken to in her mother-tongue. Stories, songs, play being introduced around new foods can be done in mother tongue.
LET THE CHILD PLAY WITH THE FOOD
- This one may sound messy but as the child would sit and enjoy the touch, sight, smell of the food, she if likely to enjoy it with greater delight.
SITTING IN NATURE WHILE HAVING FRESH FOODS
- It is the best to sit out in nature or near a window, while enjoying these delicious fresh fruits and vegetables. Instinctively humans have been used to watch constant movement of branches, leaves, flowers, grass, animals, birds and insects while eating in Nature, and also be alert to watch-out for a predator. In modern society this has been replaced by watching Television, Laptops, Mobiles or I pads while having food. It is best to receive rays of the sun, fresh air and the nature around us then to be surrounded with heavy electronic radiation while having our food.
CREATING FRUIT OR SALAD ART
- Creating beautiful fun shapes from your fresh fruits and vegetables really gets the pickiest of the eaters to enjoy a slice or two. You can create cakes, flowers, scenery and much more..
CHANGE ONLY ONE HABIT AT A TIME
- It is always observed that changing one habit at a time works best. It is well known that a new habit takes just 3 days to set in and only 21 days to become a part of our lifestyle. If you have chosen to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables into your child’s diet as a priority, then set aside changing of other habits like watching TV etc. for the coming months unless they are very urgent. It is also well observed that children and adults start to have more energy and mental clarity, which is directly proportional to increase in fresh organic foods- fruits, vegetables and greens: in their diets. They instinctively began to change their other habits and seek healthier solutions like exercise, meditation, free play etc. to easily relieve any accumulated stress and smile from within.
Find more resources to help you through Indian Raw Vegan Foundation
Click here to view books by Anjali Sanghi