All Posts Tagged ‘Charley

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Our Journey to Whole Foods with Charley – An Update

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Almost a year ago I wrote about my food struggles with our beautiful, spirited daughter, Charley.

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Her full story can be read here, but the gist of it is that she was an extremely difficult baby and toddler and pretty much hated all food except for packaged, processed garbage. Out of pure desperation and exhaustion, we allowed her to survive on that, until last June when we made a goal to have her eating only whole, unprocessed foods in our home (progress, not perfection) by age 5.

“Our goal is no packaged foods by age five. At home, she will have only whole, unprocessed foods. I don’t want her to miss out on some of the wonderful parts of childhood; ice cream on hot days, treats at her grandparents house, or cake at birthday parties. We won’t restrict things like that which are outside of the home. But her food in our house will be real.

Charley is 4 years old now, and you can’t imagine how many times I have regretted posting that article. Most of the time I’m on board and still fired up about changing her eating habits, but when it’s 5:30pm and I’m in the midst of the dinner battle, I often wish I never made that goal and I wish I had never posted it publicly. On the flip side, when the battle is finished, I feel so glad that I made that goal public as it keeps me accountable. Accountability in any health challenge is key.

Charley has come so far with her eating and her little self has changed quite dramatically because of it. Here are a few things we have introduced since the original post back in June of 2014.

1) If you don’t eat what is served for dinner, you don’t eat at all.

Totally harsh. I know it is. But we’ve implemented this rule a few months ago and guess what? My kids are both still alive and functioning well. They do go to bed hungry sometimes, but they sleep fine and wake up ready for a big healthy breakfast. I know some parents warm up the leftover dinner and put it out again for breakfast for their child, but I don’t do that. We start each day fresh. (Note: I didn’t implement this rule at the beginning of our journey to whole foods, as I do think it is quite a leap, especially for a 3 year old. We made this decision and rule after about 7 months of slowly transitioning from packaged to whole.) Also, this applies only to dinner time, where we sit and eat as a family. Her breakfasts and lunches are often different than mine, but still whole and unprocessed.

2) New Food Chart.

Charley has a simple sticker chart that we keep taped to the fridge. Every time she tries a new food (trying a new food is quite intimidating for her – she has a very sensitive gag reflex) she gets to put a sticker on her chart. When the chart is full, she gets to pick out a new toy from the toy store. Huge thanks to my friend Alyne for this idea. Notice that she does not get a sticker for eating everything on her plate. We aren’t even going there at this point. Prior to this sticker chart we were bribing her with a couple chocolate chips or smarties, but we knew it was wrong and not helpful, plus, SUGAR. We don’t need any more of it.

3) Charley is involved in preparing her food.

This girl loves to be in the kitchen with me. We make everything from scratch and I love passing that down to her, and dreaming of one day when she will pass it on to her children. She has her own adorable little apron and recently received an awesome children’s knife set for Christmas from her auntie and uncle. These knives are sharp enough to actually chop but are totally safe. She loves them! You can find them here.

Chopping leeks in the morning sun for our breakfast

Chopping leeks in the morning sun for our breakfast

Making healthy cookies from The Jordan Project blog

Making healthy cookies from The Jordan Project blog

4) We are consistent with our “rules” and the way we talk about food.

I wrote the post Why We Don’t Use the F-Word and Other Family Rules some time ago, and we stick to this. We continue to encourage her and remind her that food is fuel for her body, food gives her energy and strength, and strength is beautiful.

Since we started this challenge back in June, Charley has been sleeping like a rock. She’s in bed sometime between 6:30-7:00pm and sleeps until around 7:00am, with barely any exceptions. This is a huge improvement from before, where she was waking up every 1-3 hours during the night and not able to fall asleep until after 8:00pm. Her intense mood swings have calmed down, although they haven’t vanished. She is still our spirited little girl and struggles with transitions and other things, but the amount of outbursts and temper tantrums has decreased hugely. We can clearly see now when she does have excess sugar how much of an effect it has on her behaviour.

It’s still not perfect. Every once in awhile my kids still eat Annie’s noodles, although way less often. They both still fight me on most vegetables and fruit. Often I want to throw my hands up in the air and give up, but then I remind myself to think of her future…

Wouldn’t it be wonderful for her to enter her teen years not hating her body? To live her young adult life knowing that her worth is not dependent on a number on a scale? To grow up already having healthy eating habits and exercise built into her life, rather than having to begin them at a later age, making it so much more difficult? To look in the mirror and feel strong, capable, and loved? Most adult women don’t feel that way about themselves, and it’s time to break that cycle. We need to stop passing it down to our children. The cycle can be broken, and as a parent, you have the power to do it.


For some of you reading this, it may seem so simple and obvious. You probably fed your child only whole and unprocessed foods from the very beginning. You can’t figure out why some of us didn’t do that. Be kind. You may struggle with some other aspect of parenting that comes easy to us, or you may not. Either way, be kind.

For others of you, the struggle of getting your child to eat only whole and unprocessed foods seems impossible. This post isn’t meant to make you feel guilty about that. It’s meant to be an encouragement and a promise to you that if I can do it, so can you. You can start somewhere and make slow, consistent changes. It’s really really really difficult, but it’s worth it. Break the cycle.


Recipe for the cookies can be found on The Jordan Project blog.

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Potato Soup with Kale and Italian Sausage

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All of a sudden winter has hit us here in Vancouver. It’s been beautifully sunny and absolutely chilly and we are loving it! We’ve spent hours outside each day soaking up the sunshine and everyone’s mood has been lifted.

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The fresh cold air makes me crave hot soup, and so that plus the fact that kale was on sale at our local market had me coming up with this for dinner last night. This made quite a large pot, probably enough for about 6 bowls.

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Ingredients:

-6 slices of nitrate free, sugar free bacon

-4 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed

-1 leek, white and light green parts only, chopped

-2 celery stalks, chopped

-4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped (I used red potatoes but any kind will do)

-3 potatoes, diced into bite size pieces (I prefer to leave the peel on for this part)

-6 sausage links, Italian flavoured or chorizo (I did a mix)

-2 large red bell peppers, diced

-2 bunches of kale, stems removed and roughly torn or chopped

-fresh chives, chopped

-4 cups chicken broth

-1 cup water

-salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1) Fry the bacon in a large soup pot over medium heat. (Put the bacon in your cold soup pot and then turn on the heat to medium to get the most fat rendered out of your bacon – thanks Cherie for that tip!)

2) Once the bacon is cooked, remove it and set it to the side. Remove all but 1-2 tbsp of the bacon fat. (Save that removed bacon fat in a jar for another day…it’s gold.)

3) Fry your garlic, leek and celery in the pot with the 1-2 tbsp bacon fat until it smells wonderful, about 2-4 minutes.

4) Add in your 4 peeled and chopped potatoes and fry for another few minutes.

5) Pour in your chicken broth and water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 or so minutes, until potatoes are soft.

6) While your potatoes are cooking, heat a large pan over medium heat. Remove the sausage casing and crumble the meat into the pan. Cook until there is no longer any pink.

7) When the potatoes are soft, puree the whole pot of broth, potatoes, garlic, leeks and celery. Use a hand held immersion blender or remove the mixture and blend it in a Vitamix and then return it to the pot.

8) Add the rest of the potatoes and the cooked sausage. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer for 10 minutes or until the diced potatoes begin to soften.

9) Add your chopped kale and diced red pepper and simmer for 3-5 minutes.

10) Ladle the soup into bowls and serve topped with chives and bacon.

Enjoy!

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On Why We Don’t Use the F Word – And Other Family Rules

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No, I’m not talking about THAT F-word.

In our home, we do not say the word fat. Ever. Sound extreme to you? Maybe. But if you’ve ever spent time in that dark place of self-loathing because you can’t seem to starve away every single tiny piece of fat from your body, then you will understand my intense feelings surrounding that word. (Someday I will write in more detail about that dark place, but not yet.)

That’s my sweet daughter Charley in that photo on her first day of preschool. She’s three and a half and as happy as can be. It kills me to know that because I have suffered from an eating disorder, and even though I consider myself healed, she is at a higher risk of developing one in her lifetime. I’ve read the research, and it’s enough to make some very firm rules for our household, to protect her from becoming another statistic. (Even still, if I had never had an eating disorder, the statistics of women developing eating disorders these days are still frightening.)

You may see it as helicopter parenting or keeping my child in a bubble. But have you experienced the hell of an eating disorder? Or the hell of an addiction? The hell of mental illness? If you have, you will understand my desire to build that bubble around her as long as possible. Yes, she will encounter the outside world eventually, but not until our family beliefs and words are imprinted so deeply in her mind and heart that when she comes across the confusing ideas of fat that our society presents, she will be so strong in her beliefs that they will not be shattered by Victoria’s Secret commercials, false advertising, rude comments from men, outrageous diet claims in magazines, etc.

In our home:

We do not use the word fat as an adjective (or at all). Our society focuses on size so much. Why do we always comment on the shape of a person first? Instead of describing someone as fat, large, skinny, chubby, thin or huge, we use other characteristics. “Your Auntie Julia has curly hair, blue eyes, and wears glasses sometimes.” This is a tip that I learned a few years ago in therapy and have made a rule in my life since then, even when I’m not around my kids. The obsession with size in our society needs to end, and this is one tiny place to start.

There are no good foods or bad foods. Food is food. In our home I do my best to not label foods as bad or good, positive or negative, junk or treats. This is especially difficult for me as a Health Coach because I find the nutritional value and science behind food so fascinating. We do discuss that some foods can make us feel sick, slow, or tired and that other foods can give us energy and make us feel good.

Food does not make you bigger or smaller, fatter or skinnier. Yes, if you eat pizza all day, every day, you will get fat. And if all you eat is lettuce all day, every day, you will wither away into nothing. But neither of those are options in Charley’s life right now so she doesn’t need to know that. I never want her to look at ice cream and think it will make her fat.

That scene in Little Miss Sunshine makes me so angry. I want to punch my screen. I remember watching that before I had my own kids and vowing to never let that happen in my family.

We walk everywhere, as often as possible. The walking thing started out not by my choice. Charley was an extremely spirited toddler and absolutely refused to ever sit in the stroller. She was walking confidently soon after her first birthday and at that point we just packed the stroller away into storage and she walked every where from then on. It was annoying at first, but now at age 3.5, she can walk for hours without whining. She loves hiking and running and knows no difference. I absolutely love it. We go for long walks almost every day. We make it a priority so that it is part of her lifestyle now, and not something we have to worry about incorporating later on.

She sees my love for exercise. This one can be tricky and leads right into the next one.

I do not exercise to get smaller or skinnier. My kids see me exercise. I take them for runs, I lift weights while Xavier naps, and they watch myself and other moms workout at our Mommy Workout Group that my friend leads in a park. They know that once a week I wake up early to meet a good friend for a morning workout, and they know that once a week Daddy puts them to bed because I’m at a running clinic. The thing is, my exercise has nothing to do with shrinking. I’m not “working off that ice cream”, “shrinking my love handles”, or trying to achieve the impossible “thigh gap”. My children will NEVER hear those words from me. Instead, I tell them that I’m building muscles so that I can be strong to pick them up, that I’m getting fast so I can run with them and play with them, and so my body has more energy. And those things are true. I’m not exercising to get smaller or reach some goal. I’m exercising so I can keep up with my kids, lift heavy things when I need to, and open my own darn pickle jar.

I do not stare at myself in the mirror. It’s amazing how much little children observe and absorb. I don’t do it anyway (anymore), but I especially do not stand in front of a mirror and critique myself in front of my children. I need a mirror to do my hair and makeup, but I am careful with my facial expressions. No deep sighs of dissatisfaction, no grimaces or squeezing and pinching any extra skin. I don’t have a scale, but if I did, I would not weigh myself in front of my children. So many women I know weigh themselves every single morning. What kind of habit is that to instil in our children?

I am IN our photos. I am in those photos with my kids.  I will not stay out of a photo because I don’t think I look my best or because my outfit isn’t especially flattering that day. And I will NEVER say out loud that I don’t like the way I look in a photo. I avoid negative self talk internally and externally as much as humanly possible. With this same mindset, when we are at the beach or at the pool, I will be there in my swimsuit as confidently as possibly. (It has taken me a long time to get there, but my children are a great motivator.) I will be in the water, swimming and playing with my kids, and not caring if my make up runs or my hair gets drenched and stringy. I still don’t love being in a bathing suit in public, but I’m going to fake it until I make it and make sure my children don’t pick up on that.

I compliment Charley on more than just her beauty. Charley is beautiful, and she hears it all the time from family, friends and strangers. And I’m totally okay with that. I tell her she’s beautiful all the time. It won’t take long before our society tries to make her feel ugly, so I’ll tell her as many times as I can until then that she was created perfectly. I don’t think you can tell your children they are beautiful too often, as long as your compliments of their other strengths outweigh the compliments of their appearance. For every time I tell her she’s beautiful, I make sure to magnify two or three other strengths of hers. For example, things like “I love that you are so kind to your brother”, “You are so good at sharing”, “You are so helpful”. I learned this from a very wise friend of mine who is parenting a few years ahead of me and aim to use this tool with all people I come in contact with, not just my own children.

Food is GOOD. So many people have negative issues surrounding any and all food. In my darkest times, I would be kept awake all night from the shame of eating a plain chicken breast. I would imagine all the fat accumulating on my body as I lied in bed and how much bigger I would be in the morning. I know better now. Now I know that food equals life. Food is fuel for my body. Food is energy and strength, and strength is beautiful.

This all my sound crazy to you. I might sound paranoid and maybe I am a little. These rules may evolve as my children mature and can understand nutrition and science more.

But for now, instilling these values in Charley’s mind and heart is one of my biggest passions.


To read a bit about my story and why I’m so passionate about this, click here.

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Spaghetti Pie with Charley

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IMG_9710If you aren’t already addicted to PaleOMG yet, you need to go check it out NOW. Juli, the creator, is hilarious, down to earth, and all of her recipes have been a big hit in our household. We very slightly tweaked her recipe Almost 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Pie just buy adding some extra vegetables. All credit goes to Paleomg. She’s a genius!

Ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash, cooked and threaded into noodles

1 pound of Italian sausage (pastured pork and sugar free)

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 cup of pizza sauce (sugar free)

1 tsp of dried basil

3 eggs, whisked

1 green pepper, diced

5 mushrooms, chopped

1 cup spinach

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

2) Heat a large pan over medium heat and fry the sausage, onions, and green pepper until sausage is cooked through and no longer pink.

3) Add the pizza sauce, basil, mushrooms and spinach and stir well.

4) Combine the entire mixture with the spaghetti squash threads in an 8×8 baking dish.

5) Mix in the whisked eggs until the eggs are no longer visible.

6) Place in the preheated oven and bake for approximately one hour, or until set in the middle. Let it rest a few minutes before serving.

Charley had a great time making this with me, but made sure to pick out anything green once it came time to eat it. Baby steps, right?

 

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Our Journey to Whole Foods with Charley – Her Story

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ImageMeet Charley Marie, my precious little firecracker. She was born three weeks early and spent two weeks in the NICU. While she was there, multiple nurses laughed and warned us that she already showed a strong will, screaming loudly whenever she wanted or needed something. We took her home and the screaming didn’t stop for four months. Every time she nursed, she screamed in pain after, twisting up her torso and pulling her knees in. No matter what I ate to try and make my breast milk easier for her to digest, she reacted that way.

We switched to formula, but got the same result. After about three and a half months of almost non stop screaming and only sleeping in twenty minute increments, we took her to a specialist. He recommended a specific formula for colicky babies that is much easier for them to digest because the proteins are broken down for them. We tried it, and it worked! The screaming lessened and she began to sleep for longer periods of time.

539190_873794372457_111158930_nBut then came time to introduce solid foods. As a first time mom, I was so excited. I shouldn’t have been…she refused EVERYTHING. People say their child is picky, but really they mean that their child just doesn’t like broccoli or spinach, but will eat more common kid friendly food. My Charley was simply not interested in any food at all. We put everything in front of her and she wouldn’t take any of it. I was so disappointed! I had spent weeks making homemade organic purees and freezing them in anticipation, but she wouldn’t touch them. I researched all kinds of ways to get picky babies interested in food and tried all the methods, but nothing worked. She had the strongest will of any baby I had ever seen. Well meaning friends suggested starving her of milk or formula so that she would eventually eat when hungry enough, but it didn’t work for her. Eventually we gave up, and decided to not force her to eat anything. She drank only formula until she was one, and then when she turned one she switched to milk with small amounts of highly processed, packaged food-the kind you find in the baby aisle at Walmart with the ingredient list so long they can barely fit it on the packaging. It seemed to be the only thing we could get her to swallow. I had given up at this point and was desperate for her to eat, no matter what it was.

It got worse from there on. As we got more desperate to fill her stomach, we offered her more packaged garbage and she developed a like for it. This bothered me so much and I was so concerned for her health, but felt helpless. I have always been interested in nutrition and so I knew the stuff she was eating was terrible for her and contributing to her poor sleeping habits, mood swings, temper tantrums, attention span, and energy levels. I kept telling myself that we would deal with the battle of her eating habits when she was older and could understand.528085_764592947987_549706212_n

Now, that time has come. She’s older. She turned three this past March (2014), and she can understand the general idea that healthy food equals a happier, more energetic, and well balanced life. She’s beautiful and feisty and intelligent and SO STRONG WILLED. We are gearing up for a slow but full time battle. Our goal is no packaged foods by age five. At home, she will have only whole, unprocessed foods. I don’t want her to miss out on some of the wonderful parts of childhood; ice cream on hot days, treats at her grandparents house, or cake at birthday parties. We won’t restrict things like that which are outside of the home. But her food in our house will be real.

I’ve got about a year and a half to change her life. Follow our journey here on my blog and feel free to leave comments with suggestions and ideas. I would love to hear what you think!