I cannot remember where I heard that quote, but it often serves as a good reminder for me to be where I am and take the next step without the expectation of doing it all at once. Usually the experts to which I am comparing myself have been honing their craft for years. It can seem overwhelming to begin to move from the standard foods your family/kids love to a real food, low(er) carb way of eating when trying to support you family’s fight against cancer. I truly and wholeheartedly believe that nutrition is central to resiliency during cancer treatment. We also know that different ways of eating have to become the culture of a family. A small step approach generally is more sustainable than a massive overhaul. However, we have to start somewhere, right? Here are some steps that, in my experience, can be implemented each month to truly reshape your pantry, your kitchen, and your food culture, in about 6 months. You may feel urgent to make changes, but important, lasting, well understood changes are going to be more beneficial in the long run than hasty, urgent changes made out of fear or pressure. These steps can be done in any order. Really. Pick the one that seems easiest to you and start there.
- Switch breakfast from carb loaded cereal, oatmeal and baked goods to protein, fat, and fruit/veggies. Ex: 1. Pastured eggs, bacon, and 1/2c fruit serving; 2. Scrambled eggs with spinach and breakfast sausage with 3/4c berries; 3. Egg cup, ½ c fruit, leftover dinner veggies.
- Begin baking with coconut/almond flour for more nutrient dense baking. Here is a favorite in our family. Straight out of the freezer, this tastes just like Starbucks blueberry coffee cake to me. For lower carb, replace honey with Zsweet. Or bake without flours at all! Delicious chocolate cookies. Substitute Zsweet for coconut sugar and Lily’s chocolate chips for the Enjoy Life for a very low carb cookie.
- Use real food for snacks instead of prepackaged foods (i.e cheez-it, goldfish, granola bar) and increase vegetables and meats/protein offered as snacks. See list below for snack ideas!
- Change the types of fats you buy, eat and cook with. Cook and bake with coconut oil or real grass-fed butter, which is widely available now. Organic Valley and Kerrygold are most widely distributed. I also love Kalona brand. Use olive oil for cold foods and salad dressings. You don’t ever need vegetable oil again. Nope, not ever. Really. If a recipe calls for it, melt butter or coconut oil.
- Take all the processed sugar out of the picture. Although not low in carbohydrate, honey, maple syrup and blackstrap molasses are nutrient dense foods providing great minerals. Did you know molasses is a good source of Iron? It’s also a good source of calcium, potassium, B6, selenium and manganese. Organic and unsulfured is the way to go here. Raw honey and grade B organic maple syrup if you were wondering…
- Celebrate with people and experiences, not with food. If good grades or good behavior results in ice cream or candy rewards, find a less loaded (on many levels) way to positively reward like: dollar store toys, “points” toward a bigger toy, time alone w/ mom/dad, or for the savvy tween/teens…. straight up cash. This is a lively discussion in schools and this give teachers ideas from which parents can also draw, but what motivates/encourages YOUR child is the best option.
- grain free cheese crackers
- beef jerky (dip in guac for more Keto-friendly snack)
- KIND bars (this kind only has 6g of sugar per bar)
- Dr. Sara Bars
- Organic salami (make sure to get organic at least)
- Celery with peanut butter (choose one with no added sugar)
- Celery with tuna salad or deviled egg filling
- 1/4 of an apple sliced with a nut or sun better
- Hard boiled eggs
- Deviled eggs
- Dill pickles and cheddar cheese (just try it)
- 1/4 cup berries with whipped cream or coconut whip cream
- Organic roasted seaweed
- Lily’s chocolate
- Nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds (Macadamia nuts are the most Keto-friendly)
- Amazing Grass smoothie
- NSNG brownie or waffle with cream cheese frosting or whipped cream
- Core a persian cucumber and fill it with cream cheese or tuna salad
- So Delicious no sugar added coconut ice cream pops
- Freeze dried fruits and veggies
In closing, make changes based on the capacity you have and just take one step at a time. As the parent, if you become exhausted, cranky, stressed and unable to connect with your children because you’re trying to get them healthy, you’ve created a different type of deficit by not being present. But, I find most families are surprised at how making 2 or 3 changes like the ones above initially, puts them on a road to a new way that is life-giving and includes the whole family. Start somewhere and be gracious to yourself.