Our children are learning from such a young age about how to treat their own bodies. They are watching their older role models with the eyes of a hawk... taking in every decision and every action we make. Just the other day I dropped a cup of water on the ground, watching it splash all over the floor I mumbled, "Crap!" Not even skipping a beat, my 1 1/2 year old daughter mimics, "Crap," and then looks up at me and smiles... parent fail on my part.
I did make a "note-to-self" to keep such words to myself next time, but hey, we are real people with real lives which makes us REAL role models of today's children. So, I took that experience and I applied my lessons-learned to how I am role modeling my nutrition habits.
We may not be able to control the world's views on health. Schools, museums, other kids' houses and public areas are notorious for fast, easy and filling foods. Usually ridden with salt, sugar and empty calories. Of course kids LOVE this kind of food. It sparks feelings of euphoria as the stimulants hit their sensitive little systems, catapulting them into shock. Yet, you can't always control this. Sometimes kids just have to eat and you are the one there to feed them on the spot.
To offset society's lack of health-sense (though I have to say things are getting better... just not there yet), it is important that WE as role models are providing consistent and adequate nutrition. So, why not try introducing juice into their diet! The kids are seeing you do it, so why not let them try it?
Kids love the entire process:
- Shopping for or growing the fresh produce
- Washing and preparing the fruits and vegetables... even taking a taste before the juicing begins
- Learning to run the juicer, listening to the sounds and watching the juice fill up the pitcher
- Finally... drinking and enjoying!
Kids feel pride in this type of approach. Give them some credit! Kids are usually smart and engaging, they will most likely surprise you with how much they've learned and retained.
Another point is that you can do almost anything with the juice to get them to intake:
- Try to make it with more fruit or sweet vegetables while "hiding" the bitter or bland vegetables It will be more palatable for them. You want them to have good experiences so they keep drinking it!
- Get fun jars and/or cups for them to drink out of.
- Try freezing them into ice cubes with Popsicle sticks. You have healthy, frozen treats ready to go!
- Try mixing whole berries or fruit in the cup of juice. Kids love surprises and seeing mysterious things floating around in their drinks.
- Have their friends over to experience and love it together.
- Show by example. It is important that you are "walking your talk" by drinking your juice too!
Some things to be aware of when introducing juice into children's diets:
- Dilute juice at first until their system and taste buds acclimate.
- Cup feed, do NOT bottle feed. The sugars and acids may erode the backs of the front teeth over time with a bottle feeding method.
- Moderation... don't overload a child's system.
- Juicing should be "in addition to" and not "in place of" a nutritious, whole-food diet.
- Always consult a primary physician or health care professional with questions.
The idea, is that you want to get nutrition-packed food into kids' systems so that their bodies recognize what true health is. They can then better combat the ebbs and flows of society's health views and stay true to those they know are true and good for them.
So get on out there and start juicing for kids' sake!