Junk food is fine, in moderation
I have a note on my desk from Belle that says: “I love you more than pugs, I love you more than Jolly Ranchers, I love you more than tacos, I love you more than sleeping, I love you more than my blanket sweater.”
It’s the best note ever because I know how much she really loves those things – especially the blue Jolly Ranchers, which drive me wild as you can imagine.
In fact, Belle has always delighted in showing me her bright blue tongue after eating candy or a snow cone. It always makes me want to sob into my organic, decaf, boosted-with-collagen coffee.
I try not to show it bothers me though. Some things you can’t teach, you just have to wait until they are interested, motivated or ready.
Also, I have to remember that the occasional bit of blue doesn’t do much harm. Moderation, moderation ….
My views on healthy eating for kids have certainly evolved as the years have gone by.
I was much more strict when they were little – maybe not in an obvious way, but I was strict with myself about what I bought for them and so they just weren’t exposed to all that much junk.
I have long taught others to try not to reward, occupy or soothe a child with food, and I have tried not to do that myself but it’s tricky when these are ingrained in our wider culture.
Great grades in an exam? Let’s go for ice cream! It’s simple and fun, isn’t it? I confess this is an area where I have slipped a little. I do try and skip cheering my kids up with sugar though.
I see so many clients with an automatic feel sad, eat sugar habit that they are desperately trying to break!
One of the most consistent areas where I have witnessed success, both with my own kids, myself and a wide variety of clients, is that if you are going to have something sweeter 1) make it a more natural “sweet” (ie home baking vs Skittles) and 2) have it with a dose of protein too.
Protein is so good for helping to stabilise the impact that sugar has on your bloodstream, meaning that you get more sustained energy and an even mood too.
When it comes to something like pancakes, it’s easy to have them with scrambled eggs for that protein hit.
I actually leave out the egg in the pancake recipe and pop chia or flax seeds in instead.
This adds more fibre and a nice dose of Omega 3. Both chia and flax form a gel when they come into contact with the milk in the pancake mix, which means the seeds become binding just like an egg would.
See below for a sample recipe and some extra tips.
How to make your pancakes healthy:
1, Pick the best base you can. If you are gluten-free, look for one that is less refined such as the Bob's Red Mill gluten-free option.
If you are not gluten-free, then Bob's Red Mill have a great wholegrain pancake mix. You can also make your batter from scratch using wholewheat flour.
2, Add some extra omega-3. I am a big fan of adding it through either chia or ground flaxseed. If you are serving these to kids, use the flax seed conservatively as it can be a laxative!
3, Sweeten wisely. Put away the Aunt Jemima, which is sweetened with the worst of all evils – high fructose corn syrup. You also get a good dose of sodium benzoate, artificial flavours and sodium hexametaphosphate. Sounds delicious?!
Instead, pick a little local honey or maple syrup. Get some extra sweetness from some fresh berries which provide fantastic antioxidants too.
4, Serve with protein. Try some Niman Ranch/Applegate Canadian cut or English bacon, and avoid the streaky kind. Scrambled eggs are also a good source of protein. Adding protein helps to slow down the release of the sugar into the bloodstream so you get a more steady energy supply instead of a peak and crash.
Chia Seed Pancakes (serves 2 to 4)
Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pancake Mix (or any similar)
Milk (dairy, hemp, almond, coconut, organic soy or flax)
Refined coconut oil (melted) or avocado oil
1 tbsp chia seed
Strawberries, blackberries and blueberries
Healthy protein – organic eggs or lean, English cut bacon
1, Prepare the mix as per package directions using the suggested oils and choice of milk.
Leave out the egg and replace with the chia seed. Whisk together as per usual and allow to sit for a few minutes before cooking. This gives time for the seeds to become soft.
2, Heat a little extra oil in a pan over a medium heat. Drop the mixture in and cook until the base has turned golden and the top is set enough to flip. Flip and cook the reverse side.
3, Keep the pancakes warm as you cook the rest and serve with your choice of protein and berries for a hit of antioxidants. A drizzle of agave or maple will sweeten these if you need it!
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