How to Balance your Child’s Plate
I would argue blood sugar balance in kids is even more important than in adults. A balanced and elongated blood sugar curve supports mood, concentration levels, learning abilities, energy levels, and spontaneous movement. It also prevents all-day snacking that contributes to dental caries and dysbiosis in the mouth and the gut.
As parents, it is our responsibility to make mindful nutritional decisions for our kids. We have an opportunity to set them up for success in making healthy food choices, expose our kids to various fruits and vegetables at a young age to diversify their gut microbiome, and ensure they are getting the necessary vitamins and minerals in their diet, all while increasing curiosity around whole foods.
The Fab 4 Method
I always like to ask myself, how would this make me feel if I ate it? That's why I implement the Fab 4 onto my child’s plate because I know they will feel energized, satiated, and properly fueled to play, learn, and thrive!
If you’re new here, let’s talk a little bit about the Fab 4. I have been using the Fab 4 with my clients for almost a decade. It’s a tool I used personally to support nutrient status and glucose control throughout my pregnancies (I have a pregnancy course that teaches how to move through cravings and get balanced!) and it’s the way I help my boys nourish their bodies in a balanced way. You can think of it like a lifevest to ensure your blood sugar is balanced and you're getting everything you need from your food. It’s as simple as looking at each meal to ensure you include the following 4 things - 1) Protein, 2) Fat, 3) Fiber and 4) Greens.
1) Protein provides essential amino acids which helps keep your kids (and you) full.
- The most nutrient-dense and satisfying food ounce for ounce needed to make every cell, neurotransmitter, and hormone in the body.
- Provides far and away the highest amount of vitamins and minerals, needed for growing bodies and brains like iron, zinc, choline, and DHA.
- Fat is the most energy dense of all the macronutrients and slows digestion to increase satiety after a meal.
- Supports cell growth and are the building blocks for hormones, an essential part of a child’s growth and development.
Here are some of my top tips:
- Look for the Fab 4 to keep them full and balanced
- Find every opportunity to add produce to their plate (colorful fruits and veggies, there are so many good ones in season now!)
- Every lunchbox is a chance to expose your child to something new, like the pluot! Exposure = acceptance!!
- It’s a bonus when you know you are getting ingredients you can trust. Shop my favorite brands at Thrive Market and Whole Foods.
Get your kids to eat more protein with condiments!
The goal is to make protein enticing for your kids so they feel full and calm to learn in class. In my #naptimelive video, I shared how quick it is to make a few simple proteins for school lunches, as well as tips for increasing fiber intake, and keeping the meals low sugar by using Primal Kitchen condiments for dipping and adding flavor to your dishes. I have found that serving up protein with a condiment increases the likelihood of my kids returning back from school with an empty lunch box!
Primal Kitchen Foods makes it easy to add flavor and color to my kid’s plate, while supporting blood sugar balance with their minimal, sugar-free ingredient list. Unfortunately, most condiments are loaded with sugar and hidden fillers that can spike our blood sugar, so be mindful of the ingredient list when choosing your condiments.
3 recipes to try for picky-protein eaters:
- Chicken sticks dipped in Primal Kitchen Foods Barbecue sauce, mustard, or ranch
- Tuna, Salmon, or egg salad with Primal Kitchen Foods vegan mayo
- Uncured Hot dogs or little smokies dipped in Primal Kitchen Foods ketchup
Head over to Instagram for the full recipes, my go-to protein sources to prep for school lunches, tips on keeping your meals sugar-free, and a few of my favorite brands to cook with.
Fab Four Bento Box LunchesHere are five blood sugar balancing lunch box ideas to support focus, brain function, and energy levels:
- Turkey and avocado roll-ups
- Grain-free pizza pockets
- California burrito
- Pesto lentil pasta
- Eggs + Chia Parfait
For back-to-school lunchboxes, I use the Austin Baby Co. silicone bento box, which is 100% food safe, BPA and PVC Free, phthalate-free, and reusable, or Planet Box, which is dishwasher safe, stainless steel, and the carrier bag comes with a place for an ice pack to keep food cold. A reusable lunch box helps me avoid plastic baggies, plus they make packing lunches easy for us and visually appealing for your kids. These multi-compartment lunch boxes serve as a mini checklist to ensure I am filling them up with all of the fab-four components.
When it comes to making meals for my family, I am also mindful of the cookware, crockery, and containers I use to cook, serve, and store foods in to limit exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) act like “hormone mimics” and trick our body into thinking that they are hormones, while other EDCs block natural hormones from doing their job. Other EDCs can increase or decrease the levels of hormones in our blood by affecting how they are made, broken down, or stored in our body. Finally, other EDC's can change how sensitive our bodies are to different hormones.
Here are five tips to significantly lower the urinary output of endocrine disrupting chemicals and the body burden in your children, removing a significant amount of EDC's in just 4 DAYS!!
- Use cast-iron, enameled cast iron, lead free ceramic pans or stainless steel. Do not use black nonstick that’s Teflon and contains high levels of EDCs. My favorites: Staub USA ,Le Creuset, Our Place, Caraway Home , All-Clad
- Wherever you can remove the plastic… it doesn’t matter if it’s BPA free. The sister like compounds they are using instead are showing to have the same impact on our body. This means trying your best to avoid plastic baggies and plastic wrap. It’s never perfect but do what you can these companies can help. My favorites: Stasher Bag, Bee Wax Wraps
- Always bring a stainless steel water bottle everywhere for yourself and for your children. Avoid disposable plastic bottles and avoid plastic refillable water bottles especially if you’re washing them with hot water or in a dishwasher because these chemicals break down and are then present in our water. My favorites: Yeti, Hydro Flask, Think Baby
- Store and heat food in glass never plastic or styrofoam.
- For plates, bowls, cups - stick to silicon or bamboo for kids. My favorites: Lalo, Elk and Friends, Austin Baby Co., PlanetBox
For my latest balanced, enticing, and fab four approved back to school lunch tips, head over to Instagram @bewellbykelly.