Wednesday, March 18, 2015

How I Got a 9 Year-Old to Take Spirulina and Other Kid's Health Tips

My son has had his fair share of challenges, and still does. The school psychologist wanted him labeled on the autism spectrum, but after having him tested by experts in more specialized areas that is not the case. He does, however, have a slew of other diagnoses ranging from ADHD to encephalopathy to dyslexia to dyspraxia. I was hesitant as to whether or not to post this in a blog, but I do so to help others know that while these are obstacles in my son's path they do not stop him from walking the good walk.

I didn't help him get on a good path as early as I should have. As a single mother early on I found myself getting home from work at 7 PM and having to stop by Burger King to get him Kraft mac and cheese and french fries for dinner before he passed out. He ate lots of Doritos and Oreos. He ate lots of dairy and gluten. Luckily, he was at least never a fan of soda.

Along with the encouragement of my health conscious husband we have been able to make several improvements. My son now has gummy multi-vitamins every day, and apple juice with liquid herbal supplements every night. On top of that I thought I would share a few other diet tips for the picky child eaters out there!
- Hide spirulina in "chocolate milk." My chocolate milk is hemp milk (which has Omega-3s) with carob powder and honey (feel free to use a vegan sweetener if preferred). A teaspoon of spirulina mixed in doesn't alter the taste or color, since carob is pretty dominant. Spirulina is perfect for making up for the areas of a vegan diet that can go neglected. Spirulina is high in bio-available iron, B vitamins (including B-12), protein, and antioxidants.You can also use cacao instead of carob, if you like. In my son's drink I even add a little diatomaceous earth into the mix!

- Switch out your oils. My son eats cooked food, but I still make sure when I cook with oil I use coconut oil for him. I also sneak in some hemp oil afterwards, so he gets his Omega-3s.

- Look at what healthy things your child already likes. When my son was diagnosed with ADHD I read that high protein diets were beneficial. I actually started feeding him organic chicken nuggets (even though I have been vegetarian since the age of seven, and he had been more or less his whole life, just naturally). He refused to eat them. I just panicked because I wanted him to flourish. I knew he didn't eat nuts or seeds and was trying to limit his dairy intake. What I wasn't paying attention to was that he LOVES peas and edamame. So I have just increased his intake of that! One cup of peas has almost as much protein as a glass of milk!

- Be honest with your child about food. I know I said I "hide" spirulina in chocolate milk, but I also tell him that I put magic Hawaiian powder in there to make it extra healthy. We explain why fast food is bad, and now when we drive by a McDonald's instead of asking to play he points and says, "Evil." While this may seem extreme, I much prefer it to sitting in the Play Place watching him stuff his face with rancid grease. We also explain the meat industry to him, and that the animals are often raising in inhumane conditions. Many people think we need to shelter children from these details, but it is the truth and your child has every right to know it now and make their own decisions from that information.

- Let your child eat as many fruits and veggies as they like. A little while ago I asked my son if he wanted pasta, since the Annie's box had been staring me if the face for months. He said, "No, I want a vegetable platter." I asked again, "Are you sure you don't want this pasta?" And then I stopped to think about what I was actually doing. My son had made a decision on his own that was healthy! Why was I trying to detour him from that? Was it that I was being cheap and wanted to use up the old pasta? Was it some old convention that "just vegetables" couldn't be enough to constitute a meal? Either way, I gave up and now about twice a week he has a dinner which is solely a fruit and vegetable platter. On his request.

An example of my son's vegetable platter.

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