Tricksters, marketing science…Part One!

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I was talking to a mom the other day and she said her major barriers to cooking real food were being not knowing what to choose and frustration with the food battling at the table. How fantastic that she was so honest and was able to verbalize that to me. Motherhood is an intensely personal journey and we as moms can be very protective over our systems. We know our own children and work very hard to do the best for them in our own way every single day. If we want to help them, we seek out the information and apply it to our own family system. That is why I thought it was super cool that she shared that information with me because I want to help with those barriers. If you know your sticking points then you can apply strategies to help shift things the other direction. That is the whole focus of this blog and my Facebook page. I share ideas, strategies, resources and other great blogs. The goal is to create a community to both help our kids thrive through real food and help us lead healthful lives as moms.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO CHOOSE!

There are a lot of amazing food products that offer remarkable health claims! It is so easy to be fooled by marketing science. It plays on a busy mom’s desire for her children to both eat healthy food and frustration with the frequent choosiness of kids. But, if you really take a step back and look at the claims, package size, ingredient label and cost you will realize it is overpriced, overprocessed, nutrient poor food. Let’s take some examples:

There is 8 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein in one regular sized pouch. Look at the label, color of the yogurt and the characters on the packaging. The flavors are amazing, strawberry splash, berry blue blast and many more, including cotton candy on their website. In 2.25 ounces of yogurt you get 50 calories and 8 grams of sugar. Now, if you do the math 8 grams of sugar is 31 calories. That means half of the total calories is sugar. Now, because we know that excess sugar consumption is one of the major disruptors to a healthy gut micro biome, and this product contains 8 grams of sugar we can go ahead and say that knocks this one out of the good for your gut category. Also, a 50 calorie, fat free sugar laden tube does little, if anything to feed a kids metabolism. Instead, it feeds their sugar monster and leaves them ready for more.

A real food alternative…if your kids really like yogurt. Buy a large container of whole milk organic plain yogurt and fill a thermos, next add partially thawed fruit like berries or mango and a fresh banana. Put a rubber band around the outside of the thermos and attach a spoon. Now you have a much cheaper, more satisfying alternative to gogurt. It is not overly stimulating to the eye and palate. There are no bright colors or candy like flavors. You could even put a little container of cacao nibs, raisins, toasted coconut, chopped nuts or seeds in their lunch box for them to add on to the yogurt/parfeit. This version, if your child tolerates dairy well, is much more nourishing to the gut and their metabolism. They don’t have any added sugar and a clean healthy source of energy.

Now we move on to the gold standard kids’ food. The healthy snack that is encouraged as soon as our kids are given the green light to chew…Goldfish crackers. The happy little sunglass wearing lovable fish zooming across the box or bag.

A little story first…William and Cameron had their first experience with goldfish recently. They were offered a bag of them at a party. Cameron politely declined the bag, but not William. He LOVES cheese and he saw the picture right on the front of the bag. I was in the room and watching him as he figured out how to open the bag. He looked at me and smiled, knowing that he was not making the healthiest choice for his body, and proceeded to eat almost 1/2 of the bag. When we left the party, he said, “Are you mad at me?”  I said that I was surprised at his choice, but not mad. William said, “I just wanted to see what they tasted like because I see other kids eating them and I have never had them. I wanted them to taste like cheese because I saw the big cheese on the package. But, they did not ever taste like cheese.” I asked him what that was an example of. He knew right away…marketing science. He said, now that I know what they taste like, I can say no next time.

So, there is a lesson for me…something that honestly threw me for a loop, watching him consume the goldfish made me really upset because I thought I failed in teaching him. But, I realized that he is human, curious and not yet aware of the long harms attached with certain foods. So, my lesson is to turn off the helicopter and let him choose. I may be surprised! 🙂

Why wouldn’t I want my kids eating this harmless little fish? First and foremost it is a nutrient devoid food that is easy to overconsume and encourages mindless eating. Ridiculous, you say? Well, tell me this…how can we nutritionally compare goldfish crackers to sliced raw and/or grass fed cheese and some really great gluten free seed crackers free of inflammatory seed oils? Which one is going to present kids with a real food choice, feed their bodies important raw materials and energy to grow? The cost of the crackers is much higher than goldfish. But, the trick is to offer only four or five crackers at a time and add a nutrient dense topper like cheese, ham, turkey or a nut/seed butter. If you  are making a home snack try adding a side of fresh fruit also to further up the full factor.

Marketing science is tricky and big food plays on our senses and our need to feed our kids. There seems to be a squeeze pouch or bar for every situation. That to me is super scary because it affects our ability to sit, enjoy and consume real food. Digestion is negatively affected because foods are so highly refined and processed. It makes our lives as moms easier in the beginning but what happens when kids have to feed themselves and make their own decisions?

Here are a couple of real food snack options from my kitchen:

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Raw pecans, left over coconut flour pancakes and fresh blueberries with cinnamon. William ate this at home but it could easily travel in the car.

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Blackberries, kiwi, mini dairy free chocolate chips and hemp seeds. If you truly reserve chocolate to every once in a while occasions and avoid candy. A tablespoon of mini chips is like hitting the jackpot to your kid.

My seed bars are a super easy and portable recipe. Make a really big batch, cut them into squares and freeze!

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My trail cookies are another energy dense and portable recipe. Again, make a big batch and freeze them. Pop these little yummies into a lunchbox alongside fresh fruit or your new yogurt parfait!

Of course you can’t go wrong with a combo bowl! I typically always add a vegetable, seed or nut and a fruit to a bowl. Sometimes it’s cauliflower, cashews and cantaloupe. Or, broccoli, blueberries and pecans. Bell pepper, green apple and macadamia nuts goes well too.

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A real food Mom’s greatest resource is Thrive Market! You can find an amazing assortment of organic and GMO free staples at great prices. Think of Costco, Amazon and Whole Foods combined. This site is a HUGE resource for me! Use this link to get 25% off, plus free shipping on your first order! Try out the seed crackers or stock up on some great flours or seaweed snacks.

In part two, I will offer more resources for sifting through the marketing science! XX

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