Table of Contents
This chapter is an exploration of why we as adults eat what we eat and how our experiences with food as kids shape the way we feed our own children. I share my own food history—from scrawny Indian boy in a strictly vegetarian household in the American Midwest to overweight high-school student hiding my “meat habit” from my parents by eating two dinners every day (one at Taco Bell and the other at home). My parents clearly never had “the food talk” with me. I present the case for eating intentionally as a family—always knowing what you are putting into your mouth and why—and setting goals for increasingly healthy eating. I also dispel the most common and dangerous myths about food we have learned from our parents and the media.
Chapter 2 focuses on the biggest health risk facing both children and adults: Sugar. I discuss the detrimental health effects of sugar and how parents can have “the sugar talk” with their kids to make them aware of the dangers of sugar—natural and added. I show parents how to teach their young kids to read food labels and identify the amount of hidden sugar in packaged foods. Finally, I offer a five-step sugar detox plan for the whole family, which includes a pantry purge and my catch-all guideline for healthy eating called the Rule of One: When it comes to nutritious food, we try everything at least one time and when it comes to sweets, we have just one.
Chapter 3 details my proven step-by-step plan for instilling healthy eating habits in kids—and the adults who feed them. I lay down the five essentials of healthy eating: No Excuses, Protein, Water, Breakfast, and Consistency. I show parents how to gets kids excited about healthy foods by giving them ownership over what they eat, continually introducing new foods to keep things fun and fresh, and making meals that appeal to all of their senses. I ask parents to commit the family kitchen to wholesome, nutritious food that they can make with their kids. I also offer simple rules about what is good and bad to eat that everyone can follow (e.g., if a has more sugar than protein, it’s bad) and I discuss tactics to reverse poor eating habits and empower kids and parents to break the cycle of “fussy eating.”
Chapter 4 contains 21 quick and easy healthy recipes that parents can make with their children! It includes simple but healthy versions of classic kid-friendly recipes like pizza in which I swap out nonhealthy ingredients with nutrient-dense alternatives (hint: use whole grain flat bread and load it up with veggie toppings!). There is no need to hide nutritious foods behind sugar and fried batter to get kids to eat them. By involving your kids in the process and making it fun you can get your entire family excited about eating in a way that supports their health. Recipes are organized into breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and side items.
Chapter 5 highlights the importance of physical activity and its role in child development. I encourage readers to think of exercise as a form of healthy food for their children. I share the story of my own tortured past with exercise and how a chance viewing of the movie Bloodsport sparked an interest in martial arts that has stayed with me up until today. For everyone, but especially for kids, exercise needs to be fun. I explore creative ways to get kids to want to move, from scavenger hunts to Zumba for kids and trampoline houses.
Here I summarize the core principles set forth in the book as a reminder to parents that repetition, consistency, and follow-through are all that is needed to create long-term healthy lifestyle changes that will stay with their kids for the rest of their lives. These principles include:
- The Rule of One (When it comes to nutritious food, we try everything at least one time and when it comes to sweets, we have just one)
- Create Fun and Healthy Routines as a Family
- Lead By Example
- Start Today
- Never Give Up!