Kids Archives - Stephanie Misanik Health Coach

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

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,