Family Archives - Stephanie Misanik Health Coach


August 9, 2017by admin0

I don’t know about you, but I’m an all or nothing kinda girl.  If you clicked on this blog post, chances are you are too.  Sometimes, this character trait serves me well.  For example, when I decided to take my health back, it was as simple as making the decision and with the snap of my fingers, I was officially vegan, no turning back, no easing my way in.  All or nothing.  As a result, my health transformation was swift and dramatic.  100 pounds in 1 year.

Other times, this trait haunts me.  This month my family is away visiting family in Greece, and momma is riding solo. Whenever I mention this to friends or colleagues, their immediate reaction is, “Wow!  No kids for a month?  Finally some time to kick up your feet and relax!”.

Call me crazy, but my first thought was, “I can get so much done while they’re gone!”.  Naturally, I loaded up my schedule so that my days involve me running around like a mad woman from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week.  New clients, additional yoga classes, house remodeling, house cleaning/organizing, an increased workout/training schedule, the list goes on and on.  Oh and on top of it all, somewhere along the line I decided breakfast was no longer a priority.

Like I said, I’m an all or nothing kinda girl.

I’m here to report I made it about 2 weeks before my body gave me the middle finger and quite literally FORCED me to sit a day out.  And even then, I balked.

Here’s what I have learned about myself, what I constantly struggle with.  I CAN’T SIT STILL.  Not just physically, but mentally.  If I have to sit at home, ALL I can think about is all the more productive things I could be doing.  It is so hard for me.

Here’s what that really means…and I hate to admit it, but here it goes…

My name is Stephanie, and I’m a control freak.

Anybody that knows me personally is probably cracking up because to them it’s so obvious, but for me it takes me pretty much passing out from exhaustion to even become aware of this fact about myself.  Nevertheless, it’s true.  I fill my day with appointments, workouts, cooking, cleaning, and so on so that I can be in control.

I had a dear friend tell me, “If you fill every minute of your day up, you leave no time for God (insert your preferred word here – Universe, Mother Spirit, Mama Jama, Big Kahuna, etc etc) to guide you.”

BAM.

Well, I never thought of it like that…

Here’s the thing, I LOVE what I do.  I LOVE being a Health Coach and yoga teacher.  It fills me up and I cannot believe that I get to do what I do for a living.  I also LOVE to workout.  It is a meditation for me.  Maybe you are nodding your head because you too love your job and love to hit your yoga mat or the gym, but even people who love their job need to take a break.  I always associated the feeling of being “stressed out” with having to do things I didn’t like.  The reality is that the body doesn’t know the difference between stress from a job you hate and stress from an overbooked schedule of activities you love.  To the body, physiological stress is physiological stress.

I’m writing this blog post because I need to hold myself accountable.  I have committed to doing one relaxing act of self love everyday, and I encourage you to do the same.  I cannot be of service to other people if I am burnt out and running on fumes.

Last night, I took a bath with epson salts and listened to one of my favorite podcasts.  It was glorious and I haven’t felt that relaxed in months.  Needless to say, I slept like a baby.  Today I am sipping on this delicious golden milk matcha latte while writing and later I’m making time to hang out with some amazing people that I love, people that lift me up, nourish my soul and aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m going down the rabbit hole.

What are your favorite self-love practices?  I need some suggestions!  What do you do to unwind, shut the mind off and just relax?  Comment below!



July 3, 2017by admin0

In the world of kid’s menus and school lunches, an overabundance of commercials featuring cute little cartoon characters promoting the latest sugary cereal or processed snack, the thought of teaching our children what it means to eat healthy food can be completely and utterly overwhelming.  I’m not going to lie, as parents, the deck is really stacked against us.

We have come to a point in our human evolution where we have been programmed to think that hot dogs, pizza, mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and french fries are ideal foods to feed growing little humans.  I have to admit that when my oldest was younger and I wasn’t yet tuned into the effect of food on health, I too thought that those were the only options.  It doesn’t help that any restaurant you visit, no matter the quality of the establishment, the kids menu tends to consist of those same items.  When our kids go to school, they are fed the same food, pizza Friday, chicken nuggets and french fries.  It’s really maddening when you stop and think about it for a minute.  Our kids are being constantly bombarded by highly processed, chemicalized foods that are completely devoid of any nutritional value.

Unfortunately, none of this is a coincidence.  The meat and dairy industries have a vested interest, and they are using our kids as pawns to build their massive fortunes.  Getting a kid hooked on meat and dairy at a young age ensures they have a lifelong customer.  It’s just business to them.  This is a topic for another blog post, but if you are interested in learning more about this, I highly suggest hopping on Netflix and checking out the following documentaries: Food MattersWhat the HealthForks Over KnivesEarthlings (this is a really hard one to watch, just to warn you – not kid friendly), Food Inc., and Cowspiracy.

When I changed my eating habits to be healthy, I made a conscious effort in my approach to spreading health through my family.  Let’s be real, nobody likes to be told how to eat.  I also didn’t want to start cultivating eating disorders in my children by making them neurotic about food.  I want them to have the power to make their own decisions, to eat what makes them feel good, not to be terrified of making the wrong decision.

I wanted to share with you what has worked for me in hopes that it will help you:

  1. I’m the cook in my house, so that helped.  Let me assure you, you do not have to be a chef to eat healthy.  Most of my meals are simply some roasted potatoes and veggies.  If you can turn on an oven, you can eat healthy.  Anyways, back to my point.  If you are the cook in your house, let’s be honest…you have the power to transform your kitchen and the foods you are feeding your children.  Here’s my suggestion, start small.  If your kiddos are used to the typical pizza dinner or grilled cheese and chips for lunch, see how you can make those options a bit healthier.  There’s a big difference between ordering a pizza from Pizza Hut and making your own pizza at home with cauliflower crust and fresh veggies.  It’s also a super fun bonding time with the kids.  My 2-year-old LOVES to make her own pizza, it gives her the power of choice.  It starts in the grocery store, she gets to pick the veggies she wants on her pizza.  When we get home, I let her help me cut the veggies up and then she generously sprinkles them on the cauliflower crust, which you can make on your own (here’s a great vegan cauliflower crust recipe) or if you don’t have time, you can find a frozen one in the freezer section of most grocery stores.  When it comes out of the oven she is gleaming with pride and excitement that she created her own food from start to finish.  It makes my heart smile, and it empowers her as a young woman to make her own food choices.  It’s a far cry from mommy forcing her to eat a plate full of green beans.
  2. It’s a process.  It won’t happen overnight and it won’t happen just because you want it to happen.  It’s going to take effort on your part.  What I’m really saying is…it starts with you.  If you think you can sit and eat junk food and drink soda all day and expect your kiddos to eat healthy just because you tell them to, it’s going to be a rough journey.  They watch us.  Even when they are sleeping, they instinctively know that mommy is pigging out on a bag of bon bons.  Trust me, they always know.  We are the adults and we have to lead by example.
  3. Kid’s birthday parties used to FILL me with anxiety when I started on this journey.  We all know that the typical food options at a kid’s party are soda, pizza, cake and candy.  And probably some ice cream.  I let them eat it.  I know, shocking!  I can’t say that I’m happy about it, but I allow them to make their own decisions.  Inevitably, they get a tummy ache, and that, my friends is a teachable moment!  I talk them through why they might have a tummy ache, maybe it’s because of the overload of sugar and processed chemicals in the food they ate?  Does that mean my kids won’t sell their souls for candy?  No.  They’re kids living in American society.  But, they are aware that it’s the candy and processed food that gives them a belly ache.  For me, it’s all about giving them space to cultivate awareness and that in time, they will make the best decision for their body.  Pro tip: eat a healthy meal BEFORE you head out to the birthday party.  Then they won’t be super hungry at the party and may even opt out of the junk food.
  4. Quality really matters.  Let’s look at a good ol’ PB&J.  There is a huge nutritional difference between traditional white bread and some hearty, sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel.  White bread is super processed and essentially devoid of any nutritional value, but sprouted grain bread is loaded with vitamins and minerals and isn’t highly processed.  Sometimes PB&J sandwiches are unavoidable, but slab that PB&J on some sprouted grain bread, add some chia seeds and bee pollen and substitute the peanut butter from some Justin’s Almond Butter and suddenly your PB&J just became loaded with nutritional value.
  5. Ingredients matter.  This is something I talk about all the time.  When you can, buy organic and local fruits and veggies and stick to organic meat if you consume meat.  I know organic tends to cost more, but conventional meat is LOADED with pesticides, hormones and antibiotics and tiny little humans just aren’t able to handle that kind of toxic exposure.  Their livers and kidneys are still developing and simply cannot detoxify such large amounts of toxins and chemicals.  Here’s a great study on the absorption of pesticides in conventional vs. organic food in children.  We have seen such a spike in childhood illnesses, everything from autoimmune diseases to cancer to autism since increasing the use of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in our meats and produce.  Here’s another great article on the subject.  If organic is out of your price range, consider joining a CSA (check out Local Harvest to find one near you) or shopping at your local Farmer’s Market.  Both are great and much more affordable options to getting good local and organic meat and produce.  Another great option is to stick to the Dirty Dozen, which lists the most pesticide laden fruits and veggies every year, the produce that you should buy organic and the Clean 15 which lists the produce you can get away with buying conventional.
  6. Let them eat what you eat.  This whole idea that kids need to have different meals than adults is just silly.  In my house, I make a bunch of veggies, some rice or potatoes and usually a chicken breast for my partner.  They get to choose which veggies they want, but this whole idea that they need a different “kids meal” is not happening.  Who has time for that?  When we go out to eat, we don’t even look at the kid’s menu unless they have healthy options, which I am proud to say some establishments do indeed offer.  I usually just order them something healthy off the regular menu and the three of them split it.  It usually ends up being way cheaper AND they are eating healthy food, not your standard hot dog and french fries.  If the restaurant doesn’t have any regular menu items that I think they will eat, I have never had a problem ordering a plate of steamed veggies and rice.  The kids tear it up.
  7. Pack lunches.  If you saw what they are feeding our kids in school, I know you would be outraged.  I also know this takes a little bit of effort, but keep it simple.  Some sliced fruit, the PB&J from #4 and a handful of baby carrots is a super easy and quick to prepare lunch that I make regularly for my oldest daughter.  It doesn’t have to be a super fancy spread, keep it simple so that it can be sustainable.  Involve your kids in packing their lunch.  Ask them to pick their top five favorite fruits and start rotating them.  I really love these eco friendly stainless steel lunch boxes from UKonserve.  They last forever and don’t have any plastic.

 

Kid Update:

After a year (a WHOLE YEAR) of me eating a plant-based diet, my oldest daughter started to become a little more willing to try some of mommy’s veggies.  Slow and steady wins the race, y’all.  Soon after, she made the executive decision to be a vegetarian and has remained so for awhile now.  She chooses to no longer eat meat because she has a general understanding of how the animals that she thinks are so cute end up on the plate for dinner.  Will she be a vegetarian forever?  Who knows, she’s 7.  What is more important is that she is involved in making decisions about how she fuels her body.

My two babies have been a bit easier because they have been around healthy food since birth.

Lo Lo, my almost 3-year old loves any and all raw veggies.  She will munch on a head of lettuce or a bowl of spinach and eat a green pepper like it’s an apple.  This is because this is all she knows.  I don’t keep junk food in the house.  When we shop, I involve her in the process, she knows what foods make her feel good and which make her belly hurt.  A “snack” for her isn’t a candy bar, it’s apples with some almond butter, or maybe some fresh cherries or blueberries.  She also generally chooses to not eat meat, although she will eat chicken from time to time.  I ensure that it is good quality chicken.

Vasili, my baby boy, is a slim eater, so I’ll keep you updated.  He eats what I eat, so he is vegan, unless Yia Yia and Papou sneak him some meat when he goes to visit.  That’s a whole other blog post.  His favorite food is broccoli, and who can blame him?  Mini trees are so cool looking and they taste delicious.

Don’t give up, keep your head held high and know that they are watching you.  Bring mindfulness around what you are feeding yourself, and your kids will follow.  All they want is a happy and healthy parent.  You are the example.  You got this.

 

Plants for Life,
Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200



June 19, 2017by admin1

 

I have a family member, a person very near and dear to me whom I struggle to have a sincere relationship with.  Can anyone relate to tough relationships with family members?  Of course you can, we all have them to varying degrees.  The thing is, I really do love this person.  She is my family, my blood.  But, I have such a hard time getting close to her, developing a meaningful relationship of depth and weight with her, being myself around her.

If we weren’t related, I’m not sure she is somebody I would want to have a relationship with.  We are polar opposites in every single way you could possibly imagine.  From politics, to parenting, to social justice, to religion and spirituality, there is not one topic that comes to mind that her and I see eye to eye on.  It’s often hard for me to even have a conversation with her because I feel like I’m walking on eggshells.

It’s not her fault, she has the right to be herself just like I do.

The thing is, I spent most of my life not loving myself.  Feeling like I didn’t fit in, running from reality so I wouldn’t have to see myself for who I really was and do the inside work.  Four years ago, I came to a jumping off point.  I knew that if I didn’t start getting honest with myself, uncovering the causes and conditions of why I was the way I was, doing the work instead of blaming everyone else for my problems, I was going to die.  That may seem extreme, unless you knew me at the time, then you know I speak the truth.

So, I dug in and started on a spiritual path.  A path to self-awareness, to service to others, to a God of my own understanding.  So much in my life has changed in the past four years.  Yes, of course the outside stuff has changed, I live in a different house, drive a different car, but more than that, the inside stuff is no longer covered in darkness.  I feel a connection to light, to a higher power.  I live in gratitude rather than victimization.  I have a beautiful life.  I also love who I am, not in an ego-driven way, but from a place of gratitude.

But, how do you stand in your own truth AND have a relationship with someone you fundamentally disagree with?  

That’s the question I have been struggling with for years now…

Throughout this spiritual journey, the Universe has put some absolutely amazing people in my life.  These people are my rock.  They have shown me a love unlike anything I have ever experienced.  They have helped guide me on the path.  These relationships are rooted in love, in supporting each other, in challenging each other do to better.  I am so incredibly grateful for the village of beautiful souls that has grown up around me.  I would not be where I am today without those people.

But I still struggle to have a genuine relationship with this family member.

Over the past several weeks I have been asking myself over and over, “Why is it so hard for me to have a relationship with this person?  Why do I let her get under my skin so much?  Why can’t I be more accepting?”

I haven’t found one definitive answer to these questions, but I thought I’d share what has popped up in my prayer and meditation in hopes that it may help someone:

 It’s not her, it’s me: There is nothing I can do about her thoughts, behaviors, words and actions.  As much as I want to show her the truth according to Stephanie, that is not my job.  She has the right to think and feel the way she chooses.  It is part of her own journey in this lifetime.  Who am I to judge her journey or to step in and interfere with a growth opportunity for her?  This is much easier said than done.  Some of the beliefs that she has are extremely offensive to me and entire populations of people.  But, I have to pause and reflect on my own life.  In my own spiritual development, there have been many times where my thoughts, words and actions have been hurtful to others and my awareness of how much I was hurting others was little to none.  I have to trust that God has a plan for her, just like she did for me.  Faith over fear.  Trust the process.

She’s doing the best she can with what she knows:  The thing is, we are all doing the best we can.  We are all a compilation of our life experiences, and it takes a lot of strength to step out of the societal norms and discover your own truth.  It’s much easier to just go with the flow and do things the way you are told, because it doesn’t require much thought or pushback from those around you.  My favorite quote of all time is by the late great Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better.”  I have found this to be true, and you never know when the Universe is going to present you or your family members with an opportunity for self-knowledge and personal growth.

If you spot it, you got it:  Ugh.  This is the hardest life lesson for me, but it also is 100% accurate.  Usually, when something somebody else is doing is REALLY getting under my skin, it’s because I myself have the propensity to act the same exact way if my own house isn’t in order.  All the behaviors that she engages in that drive me absolutely bonkers are behaviors that I myself can easily and often unconsciously engage in if I am not doing the work to stay connected and on the spiritual path.

They say you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family.  I don’t really like this saying, because I think that a power greater than me specifically put me into this family and surrounds me with different friends to help me grow and develop, to learn the lessons I am meant to learn in this lifetime.  The tricky part is that not all of the relationships we find ourselves in are going to be unicorns and rainbows.  Sometimes the biggest lessons in spiritual growth come from those super tough relationships.  If I was only in relationships with people that think like me, I would be stagnant.  Learning how to interact with those that are different from me is how I grow and begin to develop compassion.

I don’t have a magical answer for how to have better relationships with family members that you perhaps don’t see eye to eye with.  I don’t think it’s that simple.  But, it starts with a willingness to stop blaming others and to start looking at yourself.  How can you be helpful to your family?  Getting out of self and into service is where it always starts for me.  It makes me feel like I am useful, it gives me purpose and it benefits the other person.  Then, work to change your perspective.  Instead of dreading any and all interactions with a certain someone, look at those interactions as an opportunity to develop compassion.

Do I do this perfectly?  HELL NO.  But, I try.  I’m working to have compassion and to activate that pause button when I feel like just reacting.  It’s hard.  It will take time, but I’m in it for the long haul.  Family is forever.

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200



May 1, 2017by admin1

Today I wanted to dive into a topic that is very near and dear to my heart: Hypothyroidism.  My dad was diagnosed with hypothyroidism many years ago and has been struggling ever since to get his symptoms under control and get to the root of the cause of his poor thyroid function.  I am infinitely proud of him for making the switch to a whole foods plant based diet and for demanding that his doctor give him the proper testing so that he could unearth the cause of his hypothyroidism and treat accordingly, rather than shooting in the dark with medication.  I wanted to share a bit about his journey (with his permission) and what has worked for him in hopes that it may help another person gain traction in the fight against hypothyroidism.

To better understand hypothyroidism, it’s important to understand what causes the disease.  The top three causes are: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, poor diet and leaky gut syndrome.

  1. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (an inflammatory disorder) is by far the most common cause of hypothyroidism. This occurs when the thyroid becomes inflamed and is therefore considered an autoimmune disorder.  Basically, your body thinks that your thyroid cells are invaders and it tries to remove them before they cause damage or illness.  Your body starts producing antibodies that begin to attack the thyroid gland.  When these antibodies attack the thyroid, the result is widespread inflammation, which can lead to a plethora of problems throughout the entire body.
  2. If your diet is lacking in iodine or selenium, trace minerals essential for proper thyroid function, you have an increased risk for developing a thyroid disease. The thyroid needs these minerals to function properly and produce the proper amount of thyroid hormone.  Deficiency in selenium specifically will increase your risk for thyroiditis because it stops glutathione activity (a super powerful antioxidant) which normally controls inflammation and fights oxidative stress.
  3. Leaky gut syndrome. The best way to describe leaky gut is like this.  Imagine you have a single line of army men lining your intestines.  These men are stacked one person deep, shoulder to shoulder.  They are the only defense between what’s going on inside your intestines and you blood stream.  When you gut becomes inflamed through food sensitivities (the most common of which are gluten and dairy), high sugar intake, high stress levels, toxin overload from poor diet/environmental pollution (as was the case with my dad who grew up under the smokestacks in Chicago), bacterial imbalances (overuse of antibiotics), and certain bacterial and viral infections as a child (including whooping cough and herpes viral infections), it can cause a separation between some of the army men.  The result is that small particles that are normally trapped inside the gut start to leak out into the bloodstream through these tiny openings in the gut lining, creating a flood of autoimmune symptoms.

In order to determine the cause of your hypothyroidism, you are going to have to become a relentless detective.  I recommend asking your doctor to test your T3 + T4 levels, your free T3 + T4 levels and your IgA and IgE levels for food sensitivities/inflammation.  Don’t take no for an answer.  Getting down to the root cause will allow you to create your own personalized plan of attack through diet and medication.

So, what’s the solution?  Unfortunately, there isn’t one magic solution that will solve all your problems.  We as a society have gotten so accustomed to feeling sick, going to the doctor and getting a magic pill to fix everything without having to really do any work.  My dad’s journey to improving his symptoms has taken hard work, commitment and a ton of trial and error.  He has had such a great attitude, sense of humor and an open mind throughout the process.  The first step to improving your thyroid function and health in general is to make a decision that you DESERVE to be healthy!  It sounds so simple, but that decision will empower you to keep chugging along when you are feeling discouraged, to keep fighting for your health.  You only have one life to live, why not fight for it?

Now that I know you have made the appointment with you doctor to start investigating the cause of your hypothyroidism, let’s talk about some dietary steps you can take today:

  1. Cut back on or completely eliminate all refined sugar. Our thyroid function depends on blood sugar levels being kept within a normal range and keeping blood sugar levels within a normal range depends on healthy thyroid function.  Quitting sugar can be harder for those with thyroid disease, so take it one step at a time and be kind to yourself.  If you need some help cutting out sugar, check out my upcoming 8-Week Sugar Detox.
  2. Eliminate gluten and dairy. These two dietary components are major contributors to leaky gut in all humans, not just those with thyroid disease.  Leaky gut in turn is a major cause and/or contributor of many autoimmune diseases.  My recommendation, just say no to dairy and gluten.  Now-a-days, there are many non-dairy and gluten free alternatives that are readily available in your typical grocery store.  This is perhaps one of the best non-medicinal things you can do to treat your hypothyroidism.
  3. Eat cruciferous veggies (raw, cooked or juiced).  This includes arugula, kale, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, radishes, turnips, and watercress.  A great way to eat these is to throw them into your green smoothie!  Many people have been misinformed that raw cruciferous veggies promote hypothyroidism, but the science to back this up simply doesn’t exist.  You would have to eat HUGE amounts of cruciferous veggies (we are talking pounds and pounds per day) AND have an iodine deficiency for this to be a possible problem.  In my experience, the pros far outweigh the cons. These veggies are good for immunity, destroy cancer, reduce inflammation, shrink tumors, balance blood sugar levels, protect your brain and balance estrogen levels.
  4. Eat a handful of Brazil nuts each day. These nuts are the richest dietary form of selenium out there, the mineral essential in converting thyroxine to its active form, T3.  As mentioned above, you also need selenium to ensure proper glutathione production and to help decrease thyroid antibodies.  I suggest eating about 3-5 brazil nuts a day.  Again, a great way is to throw them into your green smoothie to add a delicious nutty flavor.  Make sure you are storing your Brazil nuts in the freezer because they will go rancid quickly if left in the pantry.
  5. Eat sea veggies because they are rich in iodine. Iodine attaches to tyrosine (an amino acid) to form thyroxine.  Insufficient iodine levels lead to insufficient production of thyroid hormone and therefore inhibited thyroid function.  Sea veggies include arame, nori, kombu, wakame, hijiki, dulse, agar and kelp.  I suggest starting with arame because it is mild.  You can usually find it in shredded strands that have a crispy texture.  Soak a small handful in water until soft, then add them to your favorite salad.
  6. Add a scoop of maca to your daily smoothie. Maca helps to balance the hypothalamus and pituitary, which are responsible for the release of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone).  TSH then regulates thyroxine levels.  Maca also contains zinc, B vitamins and iron, all of which are critical for optimal thyroid function.

I hope today’s very personal post helps you or perhaps someone close to you in the journey towards healthy thyroid function.  Health doesn’t have to be a daily struggle, but it will take some effort on your part to get down to the root cause of your hypothyroidism.  My advice is to follow in my dad’s footsteps.  Take things one day at a time.  Don’t feel like you need to incorporate all of these suggestions about in one day.  Start small.  Notice how perhaps cutting gout gluten affects your mood, your energy, your digestion and your hypothyroidism symptoms.  You have the power to take control of your health and I am here to support you.  Happy Monday!

 

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200



April 18, 2017by admin0

Happy Easter everybody!  Or as we call it....Greester (Greek Easter).  I hope you had a fun weekend with friends and family!  We had a nice long weekend, filled with food and late nights with people we love.  Here's a picture of my oldest, Sophia and my middle kiddo, Penelope (aka Lo Lo) in their cute little Easter dresses!

There are two holidays I used to completely dread as a mom of young kiddos....Halloween and Easter!  I always felt so incredibly guilty letting my kiddos munch on super processed and high sugar treats only to see them suffering from a belly ache or headache a half an hour later. This year, I decided enough was enough and took Easter into my own hands!  Today, I want to share some of the stuff we did to turn Easter into a healthy holiday that the kids will still enjoy 😉

 

Easter Baskets:

So I really wanted to get a picture of the Easter baskets to share with you, but I totally forgot and then by the time I remembered, it was too late!  But, I will walk you through what I put in each of them!  I didn't want to do candy, but I also didn't want to steal all of their thunder so I did include one dark chocolate Easter bunny per kid.  But, instead of loading up those baskets with processed candy, I added some yummy, healthy treats:

  1. Fruit and veggie pouches - I threw in my favorite pouch by Slammer.  They are organic, no artificial colors/flavors, gluten free and nut free.  The kids INHALE these bad boys.
  2. Carrots - because they are rabbit food that the Easter bunny left to share with the kids 😉
  3. Healthy bars - I put a couple bars per basket from my favorite bar company, This Bar Saves Lives.  For every bar you purchase, this company has a non-profit partner that creates a packet of food and sends it to a hungry child in need.  My kids love this!
  4. Fruit strips - I like the Trader Joe's brand.  It's cheap and fairly clean.

I also did something fun this year and added some non-food items to each basket.  My son, Vasili, is OBSESSED with trucks.  His favorite is the trash truck (I know, I know, city life!), so I found a super cheap toy trash truck that even makes noise and he could have cared less about anything else in that basket.  Sophia, my oldest, is a super creative being.  She loves to write stories with illustrations, creating a new book almost everyday.  I found a really cool journal for less than $10 for her to doodle in and write her stories.  My little Lo Lo is quite the little force to be reckoned with.  She loves animals, so she got a little set of farm animals.  It was fun searching the stores for a toy that helps them develop that which they love.

 

Easter Egg Hunt:

After Easter baskets, it was time for the Easter egg hunt!  This I had SO much fun with!  Instead of filling those little eggs with candy, I made it healthy!  Here's a list of what I filled the eggs with:

  1. Blueberries
  2. Raspberries
  3. Dark chocolate raisins (we joked that they looked like rabbit poop - that made the kids love it even more)
  4. Popcorn
  5. Almonds
  6. Peanuts
  7. Cashews
  8. Dried cranberries
  9. Mini organic crackers with organic cheese

Honestly, I wasn't sure how the kids were going to react to opening the eggs and finding nuts and fruit in them...but I was pleasantly surprised!  They were super excited!  #momwin.  Here's a picture of my girls proudly displaying their loot:

And little Lo Lo counting her eggs...

After the hunt, they snacked on their fruits and nuts and we headed down to Lo Lo's godmother's house for Easter #3.  At the party, the kids got another Easter basket and then did a second Easter egg hunt, loading up on the traditional candy and chocolate.  Nick (my partner) and I try and watch how much sugar the kids get when we are over other people's houses, but at the same time we have made a conscious decision to let our children make their own food choices so as to empower them and help them cultivate that connection between what you eat and how you feel.  Not 30 minutes after the 2nd Easter egg hunt, Lo Lo was feeling super sick.  She stopped running around and being the bundle of energy she usually is and plopped down on the couch, hands around her tummy and eyes glued to the tv.  It was the perfect opportunity to have that discussion with her about why she wasn't feeling good.  She said to me (and she's 2), "Mommy, I ate too much sugar.  I don't feel good".  My heart melted!!!!

The first step to getting kids to eat healthy is to be an example.  If they see you munching on chips and candy, you can tell them to eat all the veggies in the world, but they aren't going to listen to you.  My kids watch how I eat.  They watch everything I do.  They know that mommy takes pride in her body and how she nourishes it, and as a result, they do the same.

Next, empower them to make their own decision, and when they perhaps steer off course, be there to help them develop their own connection to food.  What I learned this Easter is that ALL of the adults rolled their eyes at me when I proudly announced that we were doing a healthy Easter basket/egg hunt....but you know who didn't roll their eyes?  My kids.  They were so happy to open their eggs and see fresh blueberries and nuts.  Not only were they happy, their bellies were happy too.

Plants for Life,

Stephanie