3.9 Billion Dollars

Did you know that in the US alone we spend over 3.9 billion dollars annually treating Childhood Constipation?? What??? Yup, constipation is the NUMBER ONE reason for kids in K-6 to miss school in this country. Hot dog, anyone? The best thing you could do for your kid is to NEVER order from the kid's menu. If your kid already has issues going number two imagine what they’ll be like when they’re 40!!

The early years are when you give your child a foundation for establishing a proper diet. If kids learn about the importance of eating healthy early in their lives, they will not have to relearn as an adult.
— Nicole Henderson

I bet you didn’t know that March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month! I honestly didn’t know until a few days ago either but Colorectal Cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer diagnosed and the 2nd leading cause of death from cancer in the United States, but it need not be....

They say the best way to prevent Colorectal Cancer is to get screened regularly starting at age 50 but I think that’s the best way to detect Colorectal Cancer. In my opinion, the best way to prevent Colorectal Cancer is to take your health more seriously and take better care of yourself, starting right now.

There are two really easy ways you can do this: 1) Stop (or severely limit) the amount of animal-based foods that you eat AND 2) increase the amount of plant-based foods you eat, namely Dark Leafy Greens, Cruciferous Veggies, Whole Grains, and Legumes!!!

In the last 3 years alone I have known 5 people under the age of 50 (2 were in their 30’s) to be diagnosed with Colon or Colorectal Cancer. 4 men and 1 woman. The one thing they ALL had in common? They all ate animal-based protein daily (including meat, chicken, fish, eggs and dairy but most importantly “some” red & processed meats). Coincidence? What do you think?

If you’re saying, “I don’t eat that much animal protein”. Check again. That could literally be a bit of bacon on your avocado sandwich or some spaghetti Bolognese for dinner. Other foods that up your risk are white flour foods and sugar laden drinks as these up our bodies level of inflammation and inflammation is basically the start of all dis-ease.

The massive trend of meat-heavy diets (the Standard American Diet (SAD), paleo, keto etc.) is shocking and alarming and shits about to get real. Literally and figuratively. We’re obsessed with getting in protein but if we’re going to obsess about anything it should be about where our fiber is coming from.

A child’s body needs nutrition, not just food.
— Julie Webb Kelley

“Oh, but this is just a stage, they’re super picky and I know they’ll eventually eat better.”

Well, let’s hope so.... 

I ask you this: if you’re not making it a priority now, what would suddenly make them want to change? We collectively need to demand better options for our children and ourselves. Sure, crappy food every now and again is a given, it’s easy and it tastes f*ing great. I get it, believe me, I really do; but if your kid lives off of the fingers of animals that don’t actually have fingers or worse yet hot dogs that do contain the fingers (and ears, and snouts, etc), you need to stop. They’re not going to starve. It may be a rough couple of weeks, but their taste buds will change and after you’ve put a small amount of different green veggies, legumes, and grains on their plate every single meal, every single day, they’ll eventually eat it and then they’ll eat more of it. And you’ve given your child a tool and an understanding that will last them a lifetime.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying to force your children to eat vegetables. That would very likely lead to issues around food and that’s inherently what we’re trying to avoid here. Forcing anyone to do anything will never garner the intended results. I also know that some “picky” kids have genuine sensory issues around food and I’m not here trying to shame anybody. I know that every situation is different and every child is different but whatever we can do to meet them where they are and encourage and empower healthier choices will benefit your family beyond this lifetime.

1 hotdog or 2 slices of a bologna style deli meat a week are enough to increase colorectal cancer risk by 30-35% in adults and children are more susceptible to carcinogens than adults
— American Cancer Society

Here are a couple of things that work really well for our family:

1. Talk about health Not at great exhaustive, boring, technical length, but talk, ask questions and most importantly, listen! What do you think are some of the healthiest foods out there? Do you think we eat healthily? Who in your class eats really healthy food? More often than not there is a direct correlation between low-quality foods and behavioral issues. When your kids realize this for themselves it can be highly transformative.

2. Cook with your kids Again, not some great elaborate meal (unless they’re into that) but get your kids into the kitchen. Here’s a previous post I wrote on the topic: Kids in the Kitchen.

3. Take your kid to the Farmers Market When we become connected to WHERE food comes from it can change our perspective on everything. Talk and ask questions. If your kid is old enough have them ask the questions “what’s the best way to cook this?”, “how do you recommend eating this?”, “we’re doing a plant-based challenge, what are you favorite vegetables?” Give your kid $5-$10 and allow them to choose their produce of the week. Empower them to make choices!

4. Introduce Produce of the Week or Grain of the Week No, you don’t need to eat the same thing every night of the week but each week introduce something new to the menu. There are over 20,000 edible plants on the planet so you’re not likely to run out of any, anytime soon!! It need not be totally new, just pick something you want to experiment with and try the 5 Ways Challenge…

5. Five Ways Challenge Pick a favorite produce and find a different way to prepare it each night of the school/work week. Get everyone involved. It could be as simple as steaming, sauteeing, roasting, raw, baking, pickling, grilling or using the ingredient in different ethnic cooking style - Italian, Mexican, Thai, Japanese, Chinese, etc. Have fun!! As our Kitchen Confidence grows, we get more inspired to cook and learn. 

6. Find a new Hero - there are so many athletes, musicians, actors etc making a ton of money advertising unhealthy products to your kids (Gatorade, coke, milk, McDonalds etc)  but there are just as many (if not more) athletes, musicians, actors etc living a plant-based lifestyle and spreading their wealth through compassionate advocacy. Help introduce these heroes to your kids. A few cool ones to start you off: Ultra-marathoner, father, author & podcast beast Rich Roll, pro-surfer Tia Blanco, Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving, Venus Williams, former NFL defensive lineman David Carter, endurance athlete Brenden Brazier, Miley Cyrus, singer Sia, clothing designer Stella McCartney, actress Natalie Portman, actor Benedict Cumberbatch, musician Moby, director James Cameron, and actor James Cromwell who has been vegetarian since the 70’s but became vegan in 1995 after playing Farmer Hoggett in Babe.

7. Read a Book or Watch a Documentary. A few of my favorite’s are listed in a previous blog post: Be Your Own Health Advocate

8. Try it and see how you feel! - It’s not all or nothing. Try the free 21 Day Kickstart created by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and see how you feel after 3 weeks. Progress is what we’re going for, not perfection.

9. Looking for more dairy alternatives? - I love what Switch4Good is doing and their Ultimate Guide to Dairy-Free Alternatives is the most comprehensive guide I’ve come across.

My final thought for the day ..... When we were finally told that smoking causes cancer, millions of us stopped. We now know that Processed Meats (bacon, deli meats, pepperoni, sausage, jerky etc) are proven Level 1 Carcinogens (the same level as Tobacco and Asbestos). If we prepare the meat from scratch (roasted, grilled, BBQ, braised etc.) it is then classified as a Level 2A Probable Carcinogen (the same as Glyphosate and Chloroform)... We now know this. This is now a known fact. So what are we doing? You wouldn’t let your kids smoke, right?