Thursday, April 15, 2010

Older Kids and Raw Foods

If you were lucky enough to be clued in about Real & Raw foods when your kids were young, then you introduced them to healthy eating early in life, and they've probably grown up enjoying it. Though they'd always eaten lots of fruits and veggies, my kids were around 8 and 15 years old when I got serious about Raw. Some foods went over better than others.

Here are some things I learned about getting older kids to eat more Raw foods:

1. Fruit smoothies are big with the teenagers these days. Go into any smoothie chain, and you'll likely find high schoolers slurping up drinks. Give older kids smoothies made with their favorite fruits. You can add the greens later.

2. Enlist their help. Just like younger kids, the older ones can get creative in the kitchen with a little guidance. Turn on some music, and make it fun! If they see the process and know what went into a dish, they're more likely to eat it.

3. Do it for them. I know. This one can be annoying, since they're perfectly capable of doing it themselves. For a while, I found that my teenager was much more likely to eat something healthy if I made it for her. If I sent her into the kitchen to make it herself, she might just wait until she went out to eat.

4. Appeal to their vanity. Talk openly with them about the benefits of Raw foods, especially healthy weight maintenance and clear skin. Acne and skinny jeans can have a bigger impact than future heart disease.

5. If you're going to a Raw food class, take them along. The hands-on classes can be a lot of fun, and tend to focus on foods you might not make every day.

6. Serve a Raw dessert for breakfast. Apple pie in the morning can seem like a real treat, while getting in a lot more nutrition than conventional cereal or frozen waffles.

7. Make Raw snacks, including fruits and veggies easier to access than junk food. While it may take some time to transition all of the junk food out of your house, you can slowly forget to pick it up at the store, while miraculously remembering to buy, wash and chop veggies and fruit.

8. The secret's in the sauce. Keep sauces and dressings on hand for dipping veggies, fruits, and Raw crackers. The Standard American Diet dulls our taste buds, so kids may not appreciate the flavor of fresh foods on their own. A lot of kids who won't touch celery will indulge if it's topped with nut butter or dipped in Raw ranch dressing.

9. Be the Raw food role model. It wouldn't do me much good to warn my daughters against the dangers of smoking, and sit out on the deck with a cigarette in my mouth after dinner. Even if your kids don't pick up the Raw habit before they leave home, you'll have left a lasting impression with your eating-style and the results it gets. And since you're already preparing your own Raw dishes, you can set the expectation that they eat something Raw at every meal.

10. College students love care packages. Some campuses have amazing dining options, but I'd venture to guess that many still don't. When I create care packages for my daughter, it's healthy all the way. Raw bars, coconut water (not Raw, but way better than energy drinks), Raw sweeteners, herbal teas, Raw granola, and other goodies are always a welcome surprise.

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