Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Colorful parenting

In the car last week, the kids were asking about going out for ice cream this week (after our unprocessed month was over). That was one of the hardest things of this month for them: our favorite little corner ice cream shop opened this month, and we couldn't go get our first cones. Anyway, I asked them, "Once our unprocessed month is over, does that mean we should go back to eating whatever we want, lots of processed foods?" They both said, "No!! We'll still eat mostly green foods, but we can have red foods sometimes as special treats."

A couple of weeks ago, on 100 Days of Real Food, they posted a guide on how to talk to kids about food. They provide a great conversation starter, using the analogy of race cars needing the right kinds of fuel. The article ends with this idea of thinking of foods in terms of a traffic light: GREEN foods are those that are the best for our body, whole foods, unprocessed, make your body feel and work the best. YELLOW foods are those that are okay to eat sometimes, but you don't want to eat too much or too many. RED foods are those you want to avoid as much as possible (I like that they don't say that you can NEVER have them, since never never works). Red foods have bad ingredients like artificial food
dyes, hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and things you can't even pronounce.

The kids jumped on board. We grabbed a sheet of white paper and three crayons and started brainstorming foods from each category. Of course water and vegetables and fruits went into green. The little girl was thrilled that milk was a green food. Then we moved on to yellow, things that aren't the best for us, but it's okay to enjoy sometimes: mommy-made cookies and cakes, ice cream, packaged crackers. We actually pulled a few boxes out of the cupboards to check ingredient lists. Finally, we listed red foods...the kids were sad to see their favorite icee-pops, fruit snacks, gummy bears on this list, but they had fun thinking of things to add. They were more excited by how many of their favorites made the green and yellow lists.

I suggested hanging the sign in the kitchen, but my little guy grabbed it out of my hands: "No! I need to hang it in our room so we can look at it all the time and remember!"

The kids ask all the time now what color foods are. We've even made up some variations...the little girl's favorite almond crackers, for example, we called yellowish green, because they have more than five ingredients on the package, but they're all healthy. On the other side are mommy-made brownies, made with white flour...they're closer to yellowy-red (or orange). This has been such a great teaching tool for us.

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