Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Gardeners of Tomorrow

Why is it that our kids will eat dirt and rocks from the playground but won’t eat carrots and broccoli from their plate? If you’re like most parents getting your kids to eat vegetables can be tricky. We wrap, stuff, cover, hide and hold noses to try and get a tiny portion into their mouth. We won’t even mention the gag reflex that comes with most of these procedures!

For many families, planning time for lunch and dinner can get in the way of busy daily schedules. Case in point, “Hurry up we’re going to be late for school! Hurry up we’re going to be late for soccer! Hurry up we are going to be late for dance”! And then the classic, “Let’s just stop and grab a quick bite before we have to go.” Sound familiar?

Our days are so full of rushing around that we look forward to anything that can make our day easier. With all the extracurricular activities modern families are involved in, guess who picks up where busy families leave off? Yep, it’s billion dollar food industries followed by billion dollar media companies! Frustrating as it is, these billion dollar companies are taking advantage of our families and our extracurricular habits! While they are busy making billions off of busy families there’re putting us and our kids health at risk and getting rich while doing it! They want you to believe their food is fresh, fast, and tasty. Ha! Fresh right off the frozen truck! Oh, and what about the new Taco Bell diet? Seriously? They must think Americans are stupid! That’s where they’re wrong! We're not stupid, we are simply accustomed to things that make our everyday life easier and more convenient. Fast food just so happens to be the one thing that makes this possible and many families rely on it with their busy schedule. Sad as it may be our hard earned money and our “convenience factor” for grabbing a quick bite is our choice. It's not the billion fast food companies that make our family unhealthy, it's the choices we make for our family that makes our family unhealthy! All we have to do is simply make better choices.

Sometime we lose sight of the big picture. We believe our children's activities, outside of the school schedule, will give our children more education and better skills for their future. We do all this so they can have “all the things” that we never had. I for one am very happy with how I was raised and how I turned out, thanks mom! But so often, we find our self caught in a rat race trying to catch the Jones’s and don’t realize that in fact we are hurting our family by rushing and eating unhealthy food along the way. Think about your family for a minute and answer these questions honestly. How many nights a week do you cook and eat as a family? How often do you grab lunch or dinner for your kids on the run? Would your kids rather eat fast food or a home cooked meal? Would your kids rather eat rocks from the playground or their broccoli? :)

Were you surprised by your answers? Truth is, we will never be able to give our kids more if we are clogging their little arteries with all our rushing around . It’s OK if you’re offended, I want you to be. Now let's do something about it!

I’m not saying that I’m against extracurricular activities for kids and families, quite the opposite actually. I'm just looking for a balance to get some stolen family time back and keep families healthy. Do we have to give up our families extracurricular activities? NO, we only have to prioritize differently. If we choose our families activities differently, we can choose to be closer to our family, show our kids how to eat better, live longer, and save money all at the same time! Your money is now saving your family instead of harming them. Let’s empower our kids by giving them the right tools for their future, their families and a healthy life. Healthy food = healthy bodies, unhealthy food = unhealthy bodies. Simple enough right? Good, let’s do it! Let’s change our families "one dinner at a time”!

OK, hopefully by now you’re asking how and what activities can my family do? Again, let’s keep it simple. Vegetables = health food therefore; start by growing a garden with your kids! Spring has arrived and now would be a great time to plan it, build it, grow it, and harvest it. Get your kids involved from the start by planning what to grow, digging and tilling the dirt, planting the seeds, watering frequently, checking on it daily and harvesting it when ready.

Carrots, potatoes and cucumbers from the garden sure taste better than rocks and dirt from the playground! Let your kiddos play in the mud, dance in the puddles and run around outside while they maintain their garden. Create it just for them or create a spot that is just theirs. Crating a garden for your kids will teach valuable life skills such as responsibility and patience. It will teach them all about colors, numbers, science, and nature too. The learning possibilities are endless if you use your imagination. Your kids will learn so much from their garden and from you and they just might learn to like their vegetables too.

Dinner talk now turns into great family conversations about how fun the garden is and how much they learn. Not to mention how dinner will become naturally healthy because what else are you going to do with all that fresh produce straight from your back yard. No more rushing around grabbing a “quick bite” and heading out. Instead, head straight out your back door and get your family happy and healthy.

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