Last night, I had dinner with fellow health coach and good friend, Amy of Nine Months Nutrition. It's hard to believe that the last time we saw each other was nearly 6 months ago in May, which is when I wrote Part 1 of this post about how her little boy LOVES healthy food. Our catch-up session was long overdue and so we enjoyed a leisurely 3 hour chat (which probably would've been longer if the restaurant hadn't closed!) over a tasty gluten-free dinner.
Amy is passionate about cooking (particularly foods void of any of the common allergens, like soy, dairy, corn and gluten) and her son, Ezra, is now about 20 months old and is the healthiest toddler I know. Despite Amy's busy schedule, she still finds the time to feed him REAL FOOD and guess what? He loves it! Because this type of responsible parenting is not the norm in our society, I am even more impressed by Amy's desire to feed her son with the nutrition he needs while at the same time leaving out the toxic foods (particularly those marketed toward kids) that flood the supermarket shelves.
When Ezra wants "cereal", he is not referring to Lucky Charms, Cap'n Crunch, Cocoa Puffs or other "breakfast candy" as I like to call them. His version of "cereal" is actually a blend of gluten-free grains heated on the stove with almond milk and real food toppings. I don't know about you, but that sounds delicious! There's no reason why he would crave and request those sugary cereals if he has never tried them in the first place. His mom doesn't keep that sugary junk food in the house, so it's practically effortless to stick to such a clean way of eating.
Every once in a while, Ezra wants a cookie (can you relate?) so instead of giving him a box of Oreos (check out the ingredients) or depriving him of something he wants, Amy gives him one of my Almond Cacao Cookies or Banana Maple Oatmeal Cookies without any concern whatsoever. These cookies are so healthy, they could be eaten for breakfast. One of the reasons why many kids (and let's face it, adults too) get so turned off by the taste of vegetables or can't satisfy their sweet tooth with fruit is because they have conditioned their taste buds to appreciate and crave artificial sweeteners and chemicals in processed foods. Thus it makes sense that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to truly appreciate the flavors of what Mother Nature has created if you're used to eating fake foods all the time (or "Edible Food-Like Substances" as Michael Pollan refers to them).
On Halloween this year, Ezra had a blast trick-or-treating, not because he got to devour a mountain of candy when he got home, but because he derived so much joy from people filling up his bag with "stuff". It wasn't about the candy for Ezra. It was about the entire experience which was so exciting and magical to him. When Ezra and his parents got home, they threw the candy away. I love that!
My favorite part of our conversation was when Amy was telling me about how she loves getting Ezra involved in the kitchen, cooking with her. One of his favorite activities is pushing down on the part of the salad spinner that makes the salad spin. While food prep does take a little extra time when Ezra's helping out, Amy says it's worth it. Instead of watching TV and getting sucked into manipulative marketing from the kiddie commercials, Ezra is watching or helping his mom cook a healthy meal (that is gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and corn-free) that he then gets to enjoy later. What's more nourishing than quality mother-son time in the kitchen combined with a nutritious meal? I hope that someday Amy's positive example becomes more of a norm in our society, rather than the anomaly it currently is. In the meantime, it brings me a tremendous amount of pleasure to see at least one family doing it right :)
** Attention: New Moms & Moms-to-Be **
If you're a new mom or mom-to-be living in San Diego, check out Amy's website and Facebook Page where she posts information about her upcoming events or contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy specializes in pre- and post-natal nutrition and offers cooking classes as well as cooking+pilates workshops for busy moms and moms-to-be.