Get Schooled on Back to School Nutrition!

It’s Back to School time! (or simply Back to Routine for those without tiny humans….)

And I’ve got a newsletter designed all about that and what you can do to keep your family and yourself healthy for the coming busy season of activities!

Whether you are a new mom, a mom of 5, a single parent, a grandmother who helps with the kids, or someone who is kid-free, keep reading because there is something for everyone here!  It’s a long read, but there are sections to scroll down and engage in so that you can find exactly what you are looking for!  This newsletter will make the upcoming end of the year healthy, happy, and stress-free, taking all the guess work out of how to successfully feed yourself and your tiny humans.  

Back to School Nutrition

You might wanna have a notebook and pen handy for this one.

Lace up your new sneakers and unzip your lunch boxes! It’s time to talk back to school (or simply back to more of healthy routine for those without any tiny humans.)  This article is all about tips, tricks recipes, and even sleep habits to ensure optimal health for you, your tiny humans (or big humans), and just those around you who have to put up with your “case of the Mondays”.

We will start with sleep. Yep, sleep habits play a big role in health and brain development of children, and brain cognition for adults.  Children and babies need much more sleep than parents think they do.  A doctor who wrote a book called Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child writes that there is a precise window of opportunity for your child to get a complete night’s rest, versus a restless, not-so-deep sleep where they wake too early as well.  And this goes for adults too. Staying up too late will not allow your body to relax into the deep stages of sleep because it is overstimulated beyond relaxation.  This is what happens when children stay up past 8pm (and even earlier for some).  Parents have the misconception that the later kids stay up, the longer they will sleep in the morning, but I must ask, “How’s that working for you?” Because from what the book reads and from my experience, the later a child stays up, the earlier they seem to wake and the more times they wake during the night as well. So when is the optimal time for bed?

For Babies/Toddlers:  At least putting them to bed no later than 7pm, and you will be amazed at how they sleep till 7 or 8am.

For school age children: A bedtime of no later than 8pm ensures a deep sleep and feeding them good healthy fats at dinner can help wind them down as well.

Parents of teens, hear this: teens need as much sleep as newborns at certain stages. No they aren’t lazy, they are regulating hormones. So allow them to sleep when they need to, nap as often as they like, and sleep in on the weekends. (Teens you can send me a thank you card later. You’re welcome.)

Adults:  Staying up staring at screens and iPhones will not serve your rest and repair, not to mention fat loss will drastically stall without what is called the “hours of power”.  Those hours are 10pm to 3am.  Be sure that your head hits the pillow before 10pm to ensure that you could be asleep and in your hours of power by 10pm.  Then even if you wake after 3am, you can rest assured you got deep, restful hours of power to undue a lot of damage from the day. Power down those devices at least one hour before bed, and stick to your routine on the weekend too. (Don’t worry you can record Jimmy Fallon and watch him tomorrow, and you will live.)

Keeping reading, next it’s time to tackle breakfast!

 

Now let’s talk breakfast.

Adults you should know, that while we can skip breakfast and reap benefits, this is not appropriate for children.  And we can discuss skipping breakfast for adults later but for now, let’s talk about what a healthy breakfast for babies, toddlers, and kids actually is.  And no, it is not a bowl of corn flakes.

Baby’s breakfast:  If they don’t have teeth, they don’t need to eat. Period.  They need to drink.  Before teeth, baby’s only need milk.  It is a fallacy that babies need rice cereal or pureed foods without the teeth to “get more nutrition” or “fill them up”.  For a couple reasons.  One, baby’s first teeth are called “Milk teeth”.  Hence the reason they still only need breastmilk, or natural formula at this point.  Milk teeth cannot break down food.  And two, baby’s do not make a necessary enzyme known as amylase, which helps digest carbohydrates, specifically grain carbohydrates.  Giving baby rice cereal or grains like bread, puffs, pasta etc before the age of 16 months (which is when amylase is most developed) can lead to a creation of food intolerances later in life, an inability to absorb crucial vitamins and minerals, baby blow-outs, anxiety, obesity, and even type 2 diabetes in babies. Again baby’s prior to the age of when the molars develop or around 14-16 months of age should only be drinking and not eating.

And speaking of baby blowouts….

It’s not normal even though you may have been told it is. (Unless we are talking newborns.  There digestive tract is not quite up to par when they first enter the world so anything can set it off.)

Even breastfed babies after about 3 months of age having daily blowouts means something you are ingesting is not allowing digestion to happen in baby and causing digestive upset in an explosive way.  Too much of this and baby can become malnourished.  So breastfed moms, the three most inflammatory foods needs to be eliminated to see what is the problem.  Those three food groups are gluten-containing foods, sugar in all forms (even excessive fruit consumption), and dairy.  I recommend eliminating all three for a time, and then re-introducing one at a time separately to see which is the culprit.  However it’s best to avoid them altogether anyway for optimal health.

Okay back to breakfast…

Toddlers and school-age children’s breakfast (and teens): Cereal will be burned up within them like a piece of tissue paper on a bonfire. Kids are active and require real nutrition, instead of processed, factory-made, food-like flakes. And, I’m not just talking about handing them piece of fruit either. Real long lasting nutrition is not a banana for breakfast (too high in sugar and too low in fat).  Real, lasting nutrition is an egg or two,  some avocado and nitrate-free bacon, some blueberries with full fat yogurt, maybe a piece of nitrate free sausage along with just 1/2 a banana,  a berry smoothie with Greek yogurt, maybe some high fat grain-free granola with coconut milk. More than anything, toddlers and children need healthy fats to start their day, not sugary-processed food-like particles if you want them to function well in school.

Don’t have time to plan s hot breakfast? It need not take hours.

Here are some suggestions to help you think outside the box and avoid feeding them out of a box:

  • A smoothie made with 1/2 cup berries, a little protein powder, some full fat greek yogurt or coconut milk, and you can even blend in half and avocado (they won’t know) for more healthy fats.
  • A couple scrambled eggs with 1/2 cup oatmeal alongside
  • Some full fat yogurt and berries

What about a cook day where you can plan ahead for breakfasts of the week, or simply making them at dinner time for the next day:

  • Make omelets and freeze them to be reheated.
  • Frittata muffins, where you make tiny frittatas in a muffin tin (google recipes for this or check out my online cookbook).
  • Hard-boil eggs ahead of time to be grab and go
  • Make a breakfast casserole and reheat squares for the family each day.
  • Make a big batch of steel cut oats with cinnamon in the water and reheat each day with a few berries and nuts.

Now let’s grown-ups (or those who at least pretend to be):  Don’t feel like breakfast? That’s okay, eat when you do. Fast when you don’t.  Don’t stress about food in the morning, and yet avoid waiting so long that you find yourself with low blood sugar and reaching for the office doughnut later either.  All of the above that was outlined for kids for breakfast applies to you as well.  Yet as we know, most of us aren’t quite as active in our jobs as a toddler usually, and since we are no longer in developmental stages of life, we don’t require quite as many carbohydrates as children.  So focus more on good fats, moderate protein, and some carbs, mainly around your most active time of day.

Next up, LUNCHES……!

Lunchtime!
Babies, you are going to suck down some juicy nectar like you did at breakfast, but, kids and teens and adults too, here are some lunch ideas to keep your bodies in optimal health, free from low moods, low energy, and low brain function…

  • Meat Rollups – make with nitrate free meats, perhaps a pickle spear, some soy-free mayo and mustard
  • Chicken, egg, salmon salad, or my personal favorite: sardine salad!  (Place over toasted corn tortillas or Salad greens, or cucumber or zucchini boats)
  • Leftover meat and potatoes (if your kids are cool with the “cold leftovers” menu)
  • Dippable delights with hummus or guacamole and yummy veggies to dip with.
  • Homemade energy balls made from nut butters, oats, and protein powder
  • Dark chocolate covered strawberries to make yourself at home to go alongside your main dish
  • Greek yogurt with almond butter swirled in.
  • Nitrate chicken sausages and organic low sugar ketchup and mustard for dipping or chopped up over a salad.

Need some snacks to go in lunches or take with you to the office for mid-day blood sugar stabilization?
Kale chips, roasted veggies, mini peppers and guacamole, beef sticks, hard boiled eggs, deviled eggs, olives, veggies and hummus, avocado sprinkled with sea salt, high fat nutty granola, nuts and seeds (my daughter loves pumpkin seeds)  pistachios are fun to open, nut butter packets, celery sticks and almond butter and drumroll please…..

Scroll down for my latest and greatest recipe!

Here is my latest recipe to satisfy the “chip craving” in most all persons who try them (And even persons who don’t like coconut like them!):

Toasted Coconut chips

Ingredients:

2 cup Unsweetened coconut flakes

Sea Salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Lay out a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Pour and spread out coconut flakes into a thin layer evenly distributed on paper.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes and look for them to be toasted brown and no longer soft.  Let cool and store in air-tight container.  Delicious as a snack or topped on a salad instead of croutons and toddlers love them too!  A good healthy fat for digestion and cognition.

You Don’t Have to Be a Cook, to Cook Dinner!

Finally, we have made it to dinners, both for those feeding tiny humans and limited time to be in the kitchen, and also any adult just looking to cook healthier or make better choices at night.

Children will actually benefit from eating dinner and then winding down for bed with food on their stomach to help them switch into rest and digest.  Adults, however, would benefit from eating at least 2 hours prior to bedtime to help the food digest and assimilate before lying down. And adults, be mindful of drinking that glass of wine after dinner if sleep or weight is an issue for you. Alcohol spikes blood sugar, which will cause it to crash later, and either wake you up unable to get back to sleep, or will cause food cravings too late at night or even in the middle of the night which can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.

Here’s some dinner ideas for all (except babies of course):

  • Grass-fed meat and potatoes (organic) and oven roasted veggies – roast it all in the oven while you tend to other things.
  • Throw out the spaghetti every Wednesday and instead throw veggies in the oven to roast make your own roasted veggie “Not-pasta” and meat sauce.  Throw that over roasted veggies. Your children’s high anxiety will thank you. (Gluten has been shown to cause anxiety in adults and children).
  • Throw a roast in a crockpot with carrots and cabbage.
  • Grill your favorite meat (or portabella mushroom for vegans) along with some grilled veggies and dark chocolate for dessert.
  • If you insist on having bread or doing dinner rolls for you or the family, then roll up your sleeves and do your family a service and make them sourdough yourself. Sourdough is the only type of bread that while it still contains gluten, it is a fermented style of bread in which some of the gluten has been broken down during the fermentation process.

Avoid being part of the “rip open the bag nation”. If you don’t have time to cook a nice dinner but you have time to stay up late and watch binge episodes of “Orange and Black” then you need to rearrange your priorities. Dinner should take time.

If you don’t like to cook, then try these quick “throw together” options that don’t really require cooking:

  • Breakfast for dinner – bacon and eggs can even be made in the microwave
  • Rotisserie chicken from the store, bagged salad and microwaved potatoes
  • Nitrate-free bratwursts or sausages over a loaded potato or over a bagged salad.
  • Stir-fry veggies and pre-cooked shrimp just to heat them up
Why Grass-fed meats? Grass-fed is meat that contains all the minerals, where the animal grazed on the grasses of the earth which is loaded earth’s minerals and minerals are what 75% of our bodies call upon for energy sources.  Grain-fed animals also contain antibiotics and hormones to help the animal handle the grains they were not intended to eat.  When we or are children ingest these antibiotics and hormones from the meat, we alter our gut bacteria, we negatively alter our hormones, and children have been shown to become larger and bigger-boned than what they were intended to become because the hormones can affect their growth and development. It’s vital to choose meats that were grown sustainably and naturally from grasses only to really see drastic improvement in health markers and optimal development.

Now, let’s just discuss a few other key points as you get started…

What about picker eaters?
The main thing is to let the kids be apart of preparation. Not only are they more likely to eat it but you are giving them responsibly which brings their life meaning and purpose form a young age. Children crave responsibility and purpose. Let them in the kitchen with you, and give them tasks to be apart of making a salad so they are more likely to eat it. Let them help you with the grocery shopping so they are excited to get home and test out that new vegetable you bought. Talk up the food and how much you love it, rather than saying, “You should try it!”.  Let them come into it based on how much they see you love it.  Be the change.

 

Let’s talk timing of meals: avoid letting kids graze… or you grazing yourself.  We are not ruminants, or animals that are designed to graze all day.  Our bodies need less frequent, higher caloric meals to stabilize blood sugar and calm cravings. If kids are hungry all day,  giving them too many goldfish and not enough fatty foods could be the problem.  “Goldfish”, crackers, pretzels, puffs, and other processed foods contain no nutrition so the body just keeps telling the individual (or tiny human) “I’m hungry, I’m still hungry, I’m STILL hungry, and I need nourishment!”Instead create meals that are good amounts of fat, small amounts of protein, and moderate amount of plant-based carbs (meaning ones you can pull from the ground.  Instead of crackers, think hard-boiled eggs, nitrate-free beef jerky, avocado wedges, olives, nut butters, nuts and seeds, or if the individual is not dairy intolerant, some raw cheese or goat cheese.

What about what NOT to feed kids and why:

  • Anything with red Dye #40 (or dyes in general) which has been researched to cause brain over-stimulation, diarrhea, gut distress, and anxiety.
  • MSG or monosodium glutamate is called an Excito-toxin which can actually cause brain cells to die (not something we really want when sending kids back to school) as well as mood disorders.
  • Anything with soybean oil, or soy protein.  This can cause hormonal disruptions in children and adults and soybean oil is actually a dangerous fat.
  • Avoid purchasing liquids out of plastic containers such as Capri suns, bug juice and honestly juice in general. Juice is basically just sugar-water.  Kids need and thrive off simply just drinking water.  To wean them off juice, begin diluting with water or sparkling mineral water and a bit of stevia if needed.

Basically in this list here, by avoiding processed, pre-packaged foods, you will easily avoid these detrimental food-stuffs.

Now you are armed with no only some new recipes to try, but also the knowledge to make the right decisions for you and yours to achieve optimal health and avoid disease.  While it may seem intimidating to initiate it all with your family or your children, even simply doing what you can and making small changes can yield big results in health! Questions, comments, concerns?  Never hesitate to email me and ask! I’m happy to answer questions.

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