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Ultimate Guide to Clean Eating for Your Kids

Is clean eating a trend? Or is it a movement? Is it simply overreacting to the way processed and instant food have taken over your family’s eating lifestyle?

Clean Eating is so much more than a trend, or an overreaction to how much processed food our world has to offer, compared to the whole, nutritious food Mother Nature can easily provide.

If you really want to incorporate Clean Eating in your family’s lifestyle, then you have to know the basic premises on which this movement was made.

What is Clean Eatings?

Clean Eating isn’t a trend. It won’t go out of style. It’s been here for as long as we have been consuming food.

Unlike pretty summer dresses or new gaming consoles, Clean Eating is here to stay. Actually, the Clean Eating movement has been here ever since humanity started consuming food.

We just didn’t have a name for it back then. However, once we became more conscious about the nutrients we were putting in our bodies, and once the food industry opened its doors to the average family, spilling most of its secrets on processed food production, you could say we had an epiphany.

Exactly what kind of food were we eating?

  • Trans-fat
  • Thiamin Mononitrate
  • Niacin
  • Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
  • Monoglycerides
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup

What is that list, you ask?

Well, those are just some of the ingredients from a popular crackers brand.

Can you understand what those ingredients actually are? They all sound technical and well, unnatural, don’t they?

That’s because this particular brand of crackers is highly processed. The ingredients’ essential nutrients were stripped and replaced with all these complicated-sounding substances that the average person wouldn’t fully understand.

This is altered food, and while not all processed food is “dirty” they are still less healthy than the more natural, “clean” options.

Want some proof?

Here is a list of the ingredients in a Clean Eating approved brand of crackers:

  • Organic short grain brown rice
  • Whole quinoa
  • Organic flax seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Filtered water

Compared to the previous list the Clean Eating approved brand of crackers isn’t so hard to understand, right? You actually have a clear picture of what you are putting in your body, what nutrients you are asking your digestive system to process.

This is just one of several reasons why Clean Eating is not, and should not be labeled as a trend. It’s a movement that is based on each family member’s educated choices when it comes to choosing their food.

Remember that old adage, you are what you eat? Well, Clean Eating promotes exactly that—a healthy you, by eating healthy, whole and as much as possible, unprocessed foods.

Does that mean that Clean Eating is a diet type?

No. Clean Eating is not a diet type. More specifically, it is a lifestyle.

You’re probably wondering how difficult it must be to shift to Clean Eating, especially when you are so used to ordering takeout or just grabbing whatever food you see on the grocery shelves. Don’t turn away just yet.

Clean Eating doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, a lot of Clean Eaters will tell you that they were surprised too, when they found out just how easy and fun shifting to Clean Eating was for them. They will also tell you about the numerous tasty things you can make with whole, natural ingredients that won’t necessarily drain your wallet.

Sounds exciting? Well, keep reading then, to learn more about this amazing movement.

How do I explain all this to my family, to my kids especially?

It’s true that eating vegetables, fruits and other natural foods are not exactly as delightful to kids  as you may want it to be. After all, with more and more commercials and advertisements for instant food and fast food joints, who can blame them?

Still, this is no excuse to allow your kids to binge off junk food, or get away with eating less than ideal meals every day.

The shift to Clean Eating will certainly take time, patience and a little creativity on your part, but the benefits will be more than worth it. All you need to do to stay motivated about getting your kids to eat clean, healthy food is to keep in mind how this lifestyle will affect them positively in the long turn.

Explaining the main premise of Clean Eating should be easier to do with the rest of your family. Of course, there will undoubtedly be some family members who will shy away from learning to be cautious and careful about what they put in their stomachs.

Again, who can blame them?

If they grew up with all things fried or instant, then it shouldn’t surprise you that they would be hesitant to try out this new eating style.

At this stage, the important thing to do is to make all your family members, even your kids, understand that Clean Eating is not a fad or a diet. It’s not going away anytime soon, because you’re determined to show your family just how fun and easy Clean Eating can be.

Okay, I understand the whole process of shifting to a Clean Eating lifestyle will take time.

But how do I start? Does this mean chips, cookies or other such foods are out of the question?

Not at all! Eating clean doesn’t mean you have to throw away the good tasting stuff like cake, pizza or burgers. This lifestyle won’t force you to eat bland, boring food as most beginners believe. The first thing you have to do to start Clean Eating and successfully implement it in the family is to lead by example.

Once you decide you want to eat clean for the rest of your life, you can begin by cleaning out your pantry. Look at all the ingredient lists of the food currently stored in your refrigerator and ask yourself if you want those ingredients settling in your stomach.

If the names sound too complicated, or just downright strange, then take it out. You can donate your food to the local shelter if you want, and maybe someday, you will donate clean food, too.

This is just the beginning. After you clean your pantry of less than healthy food, your next task is to actively engage your family, especially your kids, in learning more about Clean Eating and getting them excited about it as well.

The Clean Eating Superpowers

Since this guide  is mainly focused on helping you get your child to actively engage him or herself in the Clean Eating lifestyle, you have to learn how kid-speak to effectively communicate what Clean Eating can do for them.

You have to make Clean Eating sound and look fun, easy and tasty, if you want them to follow your example, and start choosing healthy foods over instant foods.

Superpower #1: Super Energy

Clean, whole and natural foods promote increased energy throughout your busy day. A lot of people who have shifted their lifestyle to the Clean Eating way have remarked that they no longer feel as fatigued as they once were, and that they have the energy to keep up with all their activities.

Some families even attested that after a week of having to eat from food stops and fast food joints, they couldn’t wait to get back to eating clean. They said that they could feel the effects of “dirty” food in them—how they felt tired quicker, and how they never felt truly full. Once they got back on the Clean Eating train though, their energy and zest for life was renewed.

So how do you explain that to kids?

It’s easy. You can tell them:

“You know how Superman never gets tired of saving the world? Or how Spiderman can still go to school, finish his chores at home and suit up to save his friends? Well, I found something really interesting that could make you have super energy just like them!”

It might sound silly, but it works. Kids need to relate to the idea of eating clean food. They need to understand why they should choose carrot and celery sticks over French fries. They need to understand that Clean Eating will do them wonders, if they just give it a try.

Superpower #2: Safe from Sickness

Let’s face it. In today’s world, there are medicines for just about everything. Have a headache? There are so many brands you could choose from. Having stomach cramps?

Not to worry! There’s a bottled solution for that. Not only does being sick take a toll on your health—it also makes you spend those hard earned dollars on medicine instead of placing it in a savings account.

With Clean Eating, your immune system is definitely going to benefit from a huge boost. Why? Well, because you’ll be actively guarding whatever food goes into your body.

You’ll know that you and your family are always loaded on vitamins, minerals and all the other essential macronutrients, because the whole food choices you made are not stripped of the good stuff, like most processed foods are.

So how do you explain that to kids?

Here’s how:

“I know a secret that lets me stay far, far away from getting sick! You don’t like getting sick, right? No one wants to stay home with the flu when everyone else is playing outside. If you want, I can share this secret with you, and we can stay far, far away from getting sick together. What do you think?”

Notice how the example above didn’t tell you to impose your decision on your children. Instead, the example ended with an invitation and a question. Don’t tell your kids that your eating choices are better than theirs.

Let them figure that out for themselves. Let them wonder where you get this superpower of yours, and let them be the one to decide that they actually want to stay as far from sickness as possible.

Let your kids choose to be healthy. Not only does it empower them, it sets them up to love Clean Eating, too.

Superpower #3: Strong Body, Strong Mind

Aside from your immune system, your entire body will benefit from consuming clean, healthy food. You will be able to think clearer, breathe easier and simply feel healthier.

Why? Well, because your body is getting the nutrients it needs to continue building and rebuilding the cells inside you. Your body is getting the best nourishment possible, without having to digest trans-fats or any other chemical component. Your liver and digestive tract will thank you every day you choose to eat clean food over anything else.

In addition to that, your health will soon become obvious. Some of the most noticeable benefits of Clean Eating come in the form of shinier hair, smoother skin, brighter eyes and better-smelling breath. By choosing to eat clean food every day, you give yourself the chance to be stronger and healthier.

So how do you explain that to the kids?

Here’s an idea:

“You know that we have to take care of our bodies if we want to keep doing the things we love, right? For example, if you want to continue playing soccer, and becoming the best player ever, you’d have to have clear eyesight and strong bones and muscles, don’t you agree? If you want, I could show you yummy, healthy food that will surely help you to grow big and strong!”

For your daughter, change the big and strong image to graceful and beautiful. Change the soccer dreams to something more appropriate. Remember that these are your kids. You know them and their interest’s best.

Involving Your Family in the Clean Eating Movement

After you get your kids comfortable or even interested in the idea of eating clean, the next step is to get involved in choosing healthy foods, and learning all about Clean Eating.

How do you do that? And how do you set up healthy eating goals that the entire family can benefit from?

After all, by this point you’ve established that Clean Eating is not just some fad or trend, and that it has many benefits including some of the more basic ones discussed above.

Kids learn better when they are asked to participate in tasks that are important. This is why it is always better to have hands-on activities than simply asking your child to memorize facts and figures.

Below are a few tips you can apply to teaching and involving your kids in the Clean Eating movement.

1. Picnic lunches, picnic snacks!

All kids love picnics. Who wouldn’t anyway? There’s something charming about the idea of sitting on a plaid blanket with a basket of fresh food just waiting to be sampled.

If you have kid under the age of ten, then picnics for lunch and snacks will have your kids asking for more clean food every day!

Be creative when it comes to serving your kids clean food. Start small at first.

For example, on their first picnic, offer them a tray of cut up celery and carrot sticks with whole grain cereal, and an assortment of fruits skewered on toothpicks or barbeque sticks. Don’t forget the colorful cups and plates!

Remember the goal for this activity is to help your kids associate Clean Eating to an afternoon of fun family bonding. You’ll be surprised when, for the next picnic your kids pick up the celery sticks on their own.

2. Eat like mom and dad.

Some people aren’t comfortable with kids who get food from their parents’ plates. However, you must understand that this is a great opportunity for the kids to discover what it is mommy or daddy is so fond of eating.

When your child asks from food coming from your plate, don’t hesitate to cut off a piece of broccoli, or a slice of that steamed fish. Let your kids try out whatever it is you’re eating. This makes them feel more grown up and adventurous when it comes to food.

When you spend dinner at a fancy restaurant, let the kids take a good look at the adult menu. Explain to them which meals they can choose from, and which meals are not for their age yet.

Let your children eat like mom and dad—especially if mom and dad are Clean Eaters themselves.

3. Supermarket buddies!

Before you go to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for the week’s menu, ask your kids to help you list the things you need. You can even ask for their opinions regarding what they want to eat for the week.

Give them a few choices—would they want chicken, tomatoes and ricotta cheese sandwiches for lunch, or would they rather have turkey and spinach pasta rollups?

Guide your children as they choose the ingredients for the meals they want to eat. Describe the flavor of each ingredient to the best of your ability, and ask them what they think about it.

Don’t fret if they seem hesitant to try out a new healthy snack. Remember that there are always other healthy alternatives that your kids may be more willing to try.

Once you’re done constructing your shopping list, head over to the grocery store with your kids in tow. It might sound like a daunting, stressful task, but shopping with your kids has a lot of benefits.

Aside from your kids being exposed to the good, healthy brands at the grocery store, and the different sections like the meat, fish and dairy sections, you can also teach them a little about making good financial choices.

What’s more is that your kids are able to bond with you over the food they want to eat. They will be more inclined to eat whatever is served on the table if they know that they had a say during your grocery trips.

If you have older kids at home, why not delegate the items on your shopping list and make a game out of finding those ingredients as fast, but as carefully as possible?

Again, you’re putting the words fun and easy into the Clean Eating picture.

4. Little Chefs

Allow your kids to stay with you in the kitchen when you prepare their meals. Let them watch how you put together a healthy sandwich, how you substitute tofu for meat products sometimes, or how you toss a tasty salad.

If you think they’re old enough to handle the responsibility, give them a whisk and let them beat the eggs, or ask the older kids to help you make lunches for the little ones.

Not only will you be teaching them all about responsibility, you’ll be encouraging them to make their own healthy meals as well.

5. Shapes and colors

If you have cookie cutters at home, or if you’re handy with a knife, then don’t hesitate to spice your kids’ lunches with a few creative shapes and colors.

Make that sandwich look like a gingerbread man, or cut hearts out of fruits, and put them together with vegetable sticks. Make all your lunches look amazing, because after all, what looks interesting must taste awesome, too, right?

Okay, so the kids are excited and having a lot of fun by choosing their meals, and learning more about the superpowers they can gain from eating healthy.

It’s time to set goals, not only for your kids, but for your whole family as well. This will help cement the Clean Eating movement in your household, and will benefit everybody in the long run.

How to Set up Clean Eating Goals

Meal plans and monthly Clean Eating goals are efficient ways to help transition the whole family into the Clean Eating lifestyle. Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Slow and steady wins the race.

Well, there’s actually no race to be won here. Still, going slow and steady with the Clean Eating movement is better than going fast, then crashing and burning all at once.

Don’t be afraid to start small and slow with your family. Introduce organic vegetables one at a time every day, until your loved ones get used to the idea of having good, fresh greens on the table.

Do your kids and partner have a sweet tooth? Bring out the fruit bowl then!

Make a bed of ice and spread an assortment of cut up fruits for dessert. Have toothpicks handy so everyone can just spear their fruit choices after the main meal.

2. Be realistic.

As for your goals, start easy as well. Don’t expect everyone to eat 100% clean by the end of one month.

Instead, look forward to everyone having a favorite clean vegetable or fruit after two weeks. Make it a monthly goal to introduce at least one complete, clean meal to your family.

If you keep at it, by the end of the year your family will be comfortable eating at least 12 different clean menu items that will certainly boost their health. Rejoice in the small triumphs of every day, and let that motivate you and your family to keep going.

3. Favorite foods with a twist.

Make it one of your goals to include at least three “tweaked-clean” meals in your family’s menu.

For example, if your husband loves spaghetti, tweak your original recipe by changing normal pasta noodles to whole grain, brown noodles. Instead of cooking premade red sauce, take a couple of tomatoes and make your sauce from scratch.

Will it be 100% clean?

Probably not, but it’s still a huge step forwards. Plus, it will help your family understand that Clean Eating won’t take away their favorite foods from the table.

4. Everyone has a goal.

Allow all your family members to set Clean Eating goals for themselves. List down all their goals on a sheet of paper or cardboard and hang it up for the whole family to see.

You can even put a progress chart for each member, just to keep them motivated, to make them see how close they are to reaching their Clean Eating goals for the month or week.

5. Here this week’s menu!

Ask everyone to pitch in their ideas for the week’s menu. Remember that you can always tweak each meal to contain more clean food than processed food. As your family learns to love eating clean, you can adjust to recipes that are 100% clean!

During the first few months however, make it a point to place the week’s menu where everyone can see it. Use a whiteboard and scrawl the week’s meals in different colors, or leave certain days blank so that the other family members can fill it in with food that they want to eat.

This is just one way of setting Clean Eating goals together with the entire family.