Last night my four-year old daughter and I went to the room to read the bedtime story, but the light was off. Usually, she would be hesitant to walk into the room until the light was switched on for her. However, on this evening, she didn’t. As she entered the dark room, she said, “Look mommy, I’m not afraid of the dark, I’m brave!”
“And who made you so brave? I asked her. “Jesus!” she said right away.
“Oh, is that because ‘Jesus shines His light in the dark’? I asked, quoting one of her favourite songs.
To my surprise she answered, “No, Jesus didn’t need to shine His light this time, because I had my own light inside me to see.”
Well, needless to say I was quite blown away as this was not something I had ever told her or that we have really spoken about. In that moment, I felt the presence of Holy Spirit and a spirit of Revelation acknowledging this innocent statement, which was actually such a declaration of faith and truth!
We do indeed have a light within us. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus calls us the “light of the world”. Yes, He IS the light (John 8:12), but as a follower of Jesus, we have Jesus- and His light- within us. He wants us to let Him shine through us, but also to walk in the faith, authority and confidence that is given to us.
Today God is saying, don’t succumb to the darkness around you, but stand brave and full of faith. Be that ‘city on a hill’ whose light cannot be hidden, and help others find their way back into the light, and into hope.
This morning the Lord reminded me of a vivid vision He gave me during a time of worship while I was living in China. Although it was a word given long ago, He said it was relevant for many people at this time.
In the vision I saw a very long, ornate dining table beautifully set in a large banqueting hall. On the table were the most incredible and delicious looking platters of food. Some of the food I could not even distinguish, I had never seen anything like it before. There were dishes and plates and bowls of food that covered the entire table, and I knew that Jesus had prepared each dish himself, especially for the guests.
There were people seated all around the the table, but they weren’t eating a thing. They were just sitting there looking at all the food with such regret and disappointment. I saw that they weren’t eating because their stomachs were SO FULL! The actual word that came to me was STUFFED! They really wanted to enjoy the feast, but because they had already ‘stuffed’ themselves with their own food, they could not enjoy a thing that was in front of them.
I could sense Jesus’ absolute desperation in wanting to share so much more with each person sitting there, so much more of Himself, but everyone was too full to receive all that He had for them. I could also sense His sadness that their own meal had satisfied them, knowing that what He had prepared was so much better.
Jesus is desperate for us to really ’empty’ ourselves and get back to a place of being hungry for Him and excited for all He has for us.
This ‘Lockdown’ time of ‘slowing down’, being stripped of all that keeps us busy and ‘full’, is a great opportunity to stop, rest, breathe, be…and grow hungry.
The other thing I heard today was Him saying, “A change of perspective” and then I saw Him flipping the words “Lock Down” around until it became “Freeing Up”!
I immediately understood that God wants His people to view this time of being ‘housebound’ as liberating, not restraining! This is not easy for many- I can totally understand (I have two small kids!)
The change of perspective comes in focusing not on what one can’t do anymore, but what one can do!
For some of you, aside from finally having time to take that bubble bath, do that hair mask, build that puzzle with your son, or have that family supper together at the table; there also may be time now to be like Mary, and sit at His feet, incline your ear, and really, really get to know Him.
While consulting a Homeopath to assist me in understanding this Autoimmune Disease, I learnt about “cellular memory”. I learnt how even though I had worked though a particular childhood trauma both emotionally and spiritually, my body was still carrying the memory of the trauma, which in turn, was still affecting my health. I started praying into this and asking God how I would be able to ‘heal’ my distorted cellular memory.
Over time, He revealed to me that one of the ways to alter or ‘reprogram’ our cells, is through the use of Essential Oils. At the time I did not understand much about these precious oils, so I began to find out as much as I could about them and their amazing properties.
There is so much one could write about these oils and one can get quite technical trying to explain it all, but in terms of cellular memory, in a nutshell, this is how it works. Apparently three important constituents in Essential Oils, namely Phenylpropanoids, Monoterpenes, and Sesquiterpenes (also known as “PMS”) work together in a very powerful way.
1. Firstly, the receptor sites are cleaned, allowing the proper transfer of hormones, peptides, neurotransmitters, and other intracellular messengers, (this is the role of the Phenylpropanoids).
2. Secondly, the wrong information stored in the DNA is ‘deprogrammed’ or ‘erased’ from cellular memory (role of the Sesquiterpenes)
3. Thirdly, the cells are reprogrammed with the correct information so that they can function properly (role of Monoterpenes).
Aside from reprogramming DNA, Essential Oils have endless properties and uses that can benefit us.
According to David Steward (“The Blood- Brain Barrier), one drop of essential oil contains approximately 40 million-trillion molecules. We have 100 trillion cells in our bodies. One drop of essential oil contains enough molecules to cover every cell in our bodies with 40, 000 molecules!
I use Essential Oils on myself for the purposes of assisting my thyroid, reprogramming cellular memory and my overall health and well-being. I also use Essential Oils on my family (kids included) and in my business. I like to harness the power of Essential Oils during particular Reflexology treatments that I offer, as well as during counsel and prayer sessions with my clients.
It is well recognised that a healthy and wholesome diet, whether in adulthood, childhood or infancy, is vital for maintaining and protecting a healthy gut and ensuring optimal longterm health.
It goes without saying that processed foods are not gut friendly, and do not provide the range of essential nutrients that are available from garden fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs.
The essential dietary proteins and healthy fats that support optimal growth in infancy may also be augmented by some simple measures that are inexpensive and easy to implement.
Here are MY top 6 EASY tips for dietary changes that support optimal growth and development:
1. Introduce Probiotics
The importance of good gut health can’t be stressed enough and quality probiotics play a vital role in this area. Both my girls had to switch to formula quite early and right away I added Probiotics drops (along with Vit D and Omega 3 drops) to their bottles.
As they have grown older, I have introduced them to homemade Kombucha or Kefir which a friend once described as “probiotics on steroids”! Dr Joseph Mercola says, “ The microflora in your gut plays an active role in a wide variety of diseases, and, naturally, it stands to reason they affect your health status throughout your life…the importance of probiotics increase with advancing age, but maintaining a healthy gut is really essential from birth onward.”
2. Limit Sugar (and processed food)
This is a no-brainer and yet I am still amazed at how uninformed many people can be when it comes to their children’s health.
Processed foods are not only devoid of essential nutrients, but invariably contain too much sugar in the form of refined carbohydrates. Since sugar promotes the growth of bad bacteria in the gut, it also serves to restrict the growth of beneficial bacteria, thereby disrupting the normal healthy gut flora balance. This imbalance may lead to inflammation in the gut lining and ultimately to a ‘leaky gut’ in which nutrient absorption may be impaired and toxins absorbed too readily into the bloodstream.
There is sufficient evidence to support the notion that with such a disruption to the gut lining other medical conditions may arise, such as allergies, skin conditions, or digestive difficulties.
3. Add Chia Seeds (or Ground Flax Seeds)
Chia Seeds (and Ground Flax Seeds) are a great addition to any meal or bake for your toddler. They are extremely nutritious foods filled with fibre, protein, omega-3 and macro-nutrients.
They don’t have a strong flavour are gluten-free and a little go a long way!
Add them to oats, smoothies, or yogurt with berries as a breakfast alternative, or any homemade bakes such as muffins, flapjacks, or bread. Soak Chia seeds overnight in water to become gelatinous and add to full cream plain yogurt. Both are a guaranteed natural help for easing constipation or just keeping your child regular.
I started using them from when my children were 7 months old – sparingly at first and then increasing volume as they have grown older.
4. Herbs, Spices and Organic powders
Once your baby has been introduced to all the fruits and vegetables at 5-6 months old, don’t be afraid to add herbs and spices to his or her meals. As early as 7months old, I would add Cinnamon to Oats, Tumeric and Paprika to meat dishes, and mixed herbs to soups.
Organic cacao can be added to oats, smoothies or date balls and is natural source of magnesium for your child. Cinnamon has potent antioxidant activity, helps fight inflammation and has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Tumeric is strongly anti-inflammatory. Basil appears to improve immune function and inhibit the growth of bacteria, yeasts and molds and Rosemary can suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion. These are just a few examples.
Remember that the key is less is more – rather have your child reap the benefits of a dash of the spice, than overdo it and have them be put off forever!
5. Switch to Full cream Dairy and avoid “Low Fat”.
The problem with “low fat” dairy products is that in order to replace the good fat which has been removed, sugars are invariably added to the product. Don’t believe the marketing propaganda that low- fat is better, and learn to appreciate the importance of healthy fats in your child’s dietary intake.
Learn to read product labels and avoid the high sugar content products, As these may be a hidden cause of bloating, diarrhoea, cramps or other digestive issues. Allergies and skin issues may also benefit from a limited dairy consumption.
6. Water, water, water
Get your child hooked on water from day one by limiting the introduction and use of conventional juices, fizzy drinks and even fresh fruit juice. This is not to say they can never have anything except water, but where possible, do not make sugary and fizzy drinks even an option. Add flavour to water naturally by adding berries, lemon, apples, cucumber, Rooibos etc.
Always have a bottle of water or sippy cup available for them to access throughout the day. Not only will this help to limit their sugar intake but water benefits numerous bodily functions including the digestive system and brain function. Just be mindful of the source of the water you are using – heavily chlorinated or fluoridated water may impair your child’s capacity for absorbing iodine which is essential for healthy thyroid support.
There are many other ways for you to enhance your child’s nutritional well-being without too much effort. I have found that making one small change at a time is far more manageable than trying to tackle everything at once.
Not everyone in your family may initially embrace a change, but over time you will reap the benefits of persevering.
I recently watched a You Tube video titled, “Do GMO plants sing?” https://youtu.be/L4CONoyIMaw It was a fascinating study done by Alexandra Christ to determine whether or not GMO plants “sing” or make music, as non-GMO plants appear to do.
This article is not to debate whether or not plants do or don’t in fact sing, but rather it is about the revelations that came to me while watching the video. Over time we have come to understand that plants do respond to our words, but I must admit that to actually hear the plant producing music or “singing” as Alexander calls it, touched something deep within my spirit.
When the music began, for me, there was only one word to describe what I was hearing and what the plant was in fact doing. It was worship!
The Bible has numerous references to creation (living and non-living) worshiping and praising God, but there are verses where the word “sing” is specifically used (see below for examples). Hearing the plant’s music gave these verses a whole new level of meaning for me.
I’ve always believed in the power of spirit-led worship to change atmospheres, bring breakthrough, healing and the release of miracles. In the video, it wasn’t only the fact that a plant could sing that amazed me, but rather the way that the non-GMO plant appeared to “help” the GMO plant to find its “identity” and “remind it of its song” as Alexander Christ puts it. I had two major revelations impressed upon me.
Firstly, through the video, Holy Spirit reminded me of our God-given ability (and mandate) to bring life to the barrenness around us, to awaken dormant hearts and spirits back into a place of identity and worship, not only through our words, but through our SONG. As it says in Ephesians 5:19, we should encourage one another in ‘psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart’.
Secondly, if a plant could “find its song” after hearing another plant sing how much more powerful is our worship to our surroundings? Not only is our singing of spiritual songs necessary to bring life to PEOPLE around us, but it can also be used to awaken and bring life to ALL CREATION around us!
This has had such significance to me during this time of drought. As I walk and run through our farm, Holy Spirit is impressing on me to sing my song over the land. As I do so, I hope and trust that my worship will “remind” it of its true identity and to awaken it back to life!
Some other articles you may be interested to read:
https://www.sciencealert.com/flowers-may-not-have-ears-but-they-can-still-technically-hear-say-scientists “Scientists have found evidence that plants can actually hear the buzz of passing bees and produce sweeter nectar in response to entice the flying insects in”
Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; and break forth into singing, O mountains: for the LORD hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. Isaiah 49:13 (KJV)
All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name Psalm 66:4
For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the LORD… Psalm 96: 11-13
Quite a few years ago during a time of worship the Lord showed me the following vision:
I saw a magnificent wedding scene. The hall was decked out in such beauty and splendour as only a wedding could allow. Aside from all the finery of flowers, candlelight, drapery and such, my eyes were drawn to the main table where the bride and bridegroom sit.
There, seated at the main table, looking dashing in his tuxedo, was the bridegroom- Jesus. To my alarm, however, instead of his countenance being lit up with love and joy, I saw that it was filled with anguish and pain. Tears were pouring down his cheeks. I looked to see what was causing him such heartache, and there, on the floor, crawling on her hands and knees, her beautiful gown getting filthy dirty, was the bride. Instead of taking her rightful place alongside her beloved, sharing in the wedding banquet, she was rather choosing to pick up the crumbs from under the table!
I could not believe it! Did she not know who she was and where she belonged? Did she not know how precious she was? Didn’t she know how worthy she was to be seated at the main table and enjoy the feast? It broke my heart to see what pain it was causing the groom to watch his bride hiding away, missing out on all that he longed for her to enjoy. Most of all, he wanted her by his side to hear the words of love he would whisper in her ear, and for the two of them to soak up the beauty of the evening together, as one.
As the vision ended I could still feel the Lord’s pain. His heart was breaking for His Bride who was hiding under the table instead of taking her rightful place of honour alongside Him, the Bride who still didn’t fully understand who she was.
All too often, we act like the bride in that vision. We forget our true identity and believe we are unworthy to experience and receive all that our Bridegroom has for us. We hide away in fear or shame settling for ‘crumbs’, instead of God’s best. Jesus is longing for His Bride to step up into the fullness of who she is destined to be – to stand up tall, powerful, clothed in purity, knowing that she is bold, blessed, and beloved.
It’s time to get off the floor, (let go of the past), dust off your gown (shake off fears), take your rightful seat as the Bride (acknowledge your true identity and walk in purity), love and be loved by your Groom (come back to the intimacy of your first love) and enjoy the feast (live out in the abundance and fullness of the life you’ve been given)!
Let your lover take you onto the dance floor, to spin and twirl, so that everyone may see your true beauty, and delight in you, as He delights in you!
Prayer: Jesus, please forgive me for any pain I’ve caused you by not fully accepting the gift of life that you have given me. I am sorry that I have not stepped into the fullness of who I am created to be, because of fear or shame. Today I make the choice to step into all that you have for me by acknowledging that I am your Bride – and acting that way. I declare that as your Bride I am beautiful, bold, blessed and loved. I declare that as you rejoice and delight in me, and I in you, others will see your beauty and glory.
Activation: Jesus, are there any areas in my life where I have difficulty relating to this aspect of you as the Bridegroom? Please show me clearly if there are.
While doing a year with Y.W.A.M (Youth with a Mission) in Hong Kong, I lived in an 800 year old Chinese village. Each morning we would have a mandatory “quiet time” for an hour. I would often love to sneak out of the Y.W.A.M base and walk to a spot in the countryside where I would have my quiet time with the Lord. I looked forward to these times alone with Him and am certain that He cherished them too.
On one particular morning, I was walking along the path to get to my favourite spot, when suddenly my attention was drawn to Sweet Peas growing along a fence next to the path. I absolutely LOVE Sweet Peas – to me they have the best fragrance, look beautiful in their bright colours and I especially love to see them growing wild. The sight of these flowers took me by complete surprise – not only because of their beauty, but because I had not noticed them on my walk the day before. It was like they had sprung up overnight!
While I was marvelling them, I felt the Holy Spirit whisper that these flowers were especially for me! My heart jumped as I considered this – the Lord knew I loved Sweet Peas, and knew that I would be walking that path that morning! He had made sure I did not miss out on this little detail of love for me, just as one would surprise his beloved with a gift of flowers! I was overwhelmed with joy at this notion and the whole day I felt so special, so loved.
When I first met my husband we were both so aware of the details. Details of our life stories, our likes and dislikes, the way one smiled or held a cup, even the twitch in a cheek when making a joke. I remember my husband commenting on how my eyes changed colour and the different ways I laughed. I remember being so touched by the thought-filled things he did for me like opening my door, writing little poems or sending me photos he’d taken of wild flowers because they made him think of me.
Over time it becomes easy not to notice details as much as before. We become familiar with the stories, traits or quirks, and they no longer hold our fascination as they once did. Sadly, we can even fail to notice the deliberate thought-filled actions that have been done with the hope of making the other feel special; a cup of coffee made in the morning, a light left on for a partner coming home late, a foot rub while watching T.V. are just a few examples. All of these actions have the potential to go unnoticed, or even worse, over time, expected and taken for granted. As soon as this happens, all the beauty that surround these acts of love, disappears. This can breed discontent and ingratitude. So it is with our relationship with the Lord.
Everyday God is pouring out His love for us, sometimes in grand gestures, but most often in the small ways, enriching our lives with little details. We too, can become blind to these acts of love and miss out on being romanced by our Lover. We too, can become discontent in our relationship with him, ungrateful even, and begin to believe we are unloved.
In Matthew 10:28–31 we read, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (v. 29). Although the sparrow did not hold much value in ancient Palestine, not one fell from the sky without its fall being ordained by the Lord. God cares about detail and through it He shows His love for us. If He is concerned enough over the life of the smallest sparrow, how much more is His knowledge of and concern for us? How much more does He notice us and desire to be noticed?
Ask Him today to open your eyes to His Detail; to not miss out on any of His gestures of romance to you- whether big or small. Who knows what you might discover? Perhaps your very own “Sweet Pea” is just waiting to be noticed!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you that you are a God of detail- that you use the small details of everyday life to show your love to me. Help me to open my eyes to all the ways that you are romancing me. Help me to not miss out on noticing any of your gestures of love for me.
In the same way Lord, keep me mindful of the details of those who love me and whom I love. Keep my eyes open to their gestures of love to me, and to be appreciative and grateful for their kindness and thoughtfulness. Amen
Father God, what are some of the ways that you have romanced me lately?
Holy Spirit, is there anybody in my life to whom I need to pay more attention, or to whom I should be more grateful?
Lying and relaxing outside on the grass under a sunny sky, the sun kissing your skin, walking barefoot along the beach, or a day spent in your garden, can all offer you much needed physical relief as well as that added sense of emotional well being.
I don’t think anyone can deny the instant change in mood and sense of peace experienced when being outdoors and connected to nature. Many of us already know the amazing health benefits of Vitamin D obtained from being in the sun, or the immune promoting benefits of breathing in fresh air when opportunity arises. Nature knows what is best for us, and gladly and freely offers us its gift of “Vitamin N”.
Gillian Mandich, PhD, a health lecturer at Western University in London, Ontario says, “Nature provides enormous possibilities to improve health”. The health perks of nature are so great that she nicknames it ‘Vitamin N.’ “Any time outside is better than no time,” says Mandich. “Even a five-minute break outside can be an energizing boost!”
Just compare running on a treadmill inside a gym, to taking a walk in a forest or on the beach, and see how differently you feel. Some studies have shown that exercising in nature enhances the benefits of exercise in general.
A century ago Naturopathic doctors exploited the benefits of Nature by treating patients with mud packs, cold water, and exposure to direct sunlight and fresh air. These age – old remedies are now being re-discovered with a new understanding of the benefits from aligning our bio rhythms with the earth, and thereby being “grounded” or “earthed “.
You may wonder how this can be done, but it can easily be achieved through walking barefoot, sitting or lying on the ground.
Just remove your shoes for a few moments, plant your feet on the soil or grass, and absorb those healing natural bio-rhythms into your body.
For many, ‘Earthing’ or ‘Grounding’ may sound like a very new concept, but in actual fact Monks have experienced the healing benefits of walking barefoot and sleeping on the ground for centuries.
According to Joshua Duvauchelle, ‘some scientists are starting to link the earth’s energy cycles and rhythms with important roles in our own bodies’ electrical rhythms, such as regulating our hormone production and sleep-wake cycles. The act of physically connecting our bodies to the Earth, allows us to reset body’s natural electric charge. Research is finally beginning to back up the benefits of Earthing on our bodies and emotional well-being.’
Clint Ober, Gaetan Chevalier and Martin Zucker have all researched and written about Earthing. They claim that we are ‘bioelectrical beings living on an electrical planet and how all of our cells transmit multiple frequencies that run our immune system, muscles, and nervous system’. They have found research that supports Grounding benefits, such as relief from inflammation and pain, improved circulation, and reduction of stress and anxiety. Some studies have shown that Earthing also positively affects blood glucose levels and concentrations of magnesium, iron, and other nutrients in our blood.
All living things on our planet are connected to the ground’s electric energy, but as we have become more and more industrialized, we have lost our connection to the Earth and Nature. High-rise buildings, rubber and plastic-soled shoes all act as a barrier to the Earth’s energy, insulating and disconnecting us from electrical contact with the Earth.
SO HOW DO WE DO IT?
Any contact between our bare skin and the planet’s surface is what scientists theorize can help us to channel and plug into the earth’s bio-rhythms and energy. Every day try to sit, stand, or walk on soil, grass or sand for as long as you can, though any little bit of time will make a difference. If you aren’t able to get out into natural space, the second best option is to walk on concrete. These are all conductive surfaces from which your body can draw the Earth’s energy, but wood, asphalt, and vinyl are not conductive.
Damp soil is more conductive and can accelerate the benefits of Earthing. You can understand now why mud play is somuch more beneficial than just allowing your kids to get dirty! Added to this benefit, the immune supporting benefit of soil bacteria may have a positive impact on your general health and immunity.
I have always enjoyed being outside. Now that I have children, I have even more reason to make sure that we get outside as much as possible. Where we live can get quite cold, so on those days, we bundle up warmly, but I still make sure we sit on the grass, breathe the fresh air and if possible – take off our shoes!
Next time you want to yell at your kids to “Go play outside!” do yourself a favour – kick off your shoes and go and join them!
NOTE: Having enough Vitamin D is vital for our overall health including the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, support the health of the immune system, brain, and nervous system, regulating insulin levels and enhances the absorption of calcium. To optimize Vitamin D absorption, its best to go without sunblock and expose as much skin as possible, so aim for the morning sun to be safe from getting burnt.
A great opportunity for your child to have time outside is to let him/her participate in an outdoor adventure day. Visit https://redkingadventures.com/ for more information.
(This article has been read and approved by Dr N.S Wilson,Ireland)
Before I even fell pregnant with my first child, I knew that I wanted to be able to give her best and healthiest start to life I possibly could.
I have always considered myself healthy, but when my husband and I had been battling to conceive, we began doing everything we could to get ourselves in even better health condition. A few years previously, we had already made a joint decision to stop buying bread/bread products and to cut down on our sugar intake, simply because we knew it made us feel better. It was around this time that through a friend, I was made aware of the “Real Meal Revolution: Raising Superheroes” Recipe Book. I bought it right away and everything I read in the first few pages confirmed what I’d been feeling was best in terms of a lifestyle for the whole family.
My husband and I have pretty much grown up addicted to sugar, simply because of the era we were raised. Not much was known about the dangers of sugar, fizzy drinks and processed food when we were young. As a result, my husband finds it difficult to cut out refined carbs completely and I often find myself drawn to sweet things. However, we know all too well the benefits and overall sense of wellbeing we receive when we do manage to resist, and cut those foods out. We are both able to identify that “ugh” feeling when we have over indulged in sugar, refined carbohydrates or heavily processed food. Over the years, I have changed my thinking about sugar and no longer regard it as a necessity to my eating or cooking. My goal is to be able to live as sugar free as possible!
My choice to raise my children as sugar and processed-free as possible was based largely on the fact that I did not want them to battle with a sugar addiction in the same way that my husband and I have had to and secondly, to limit as much as possible, the negative effects of sugar and additives on their developing brains and bodies. According to the “Raising Superheroes”, sugar is as bad as cocaine for your child’s brain and most of us know by now too that so many health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, strokes, even cancers and more, are linked to our sugar intake and poor gut health. (Poor gut health is the cause of so many illnesses and diseases and I will write more on it in the future).
Sally-Ann Creed agrees by stating that, “Sugar has been linked to the suppression of the immune system, contributes to mood swings in children, hypoglycaemia, kidney problems, increases the risk of coronary heart disease, mineral deficiency, tooth decay, obesity, diabetes and hypertension”! Why on earth would any of us want to encourage the possibility of our children having to deal with any of these issues!?
Initially my goal was just to get through my child’s first year without any exposure to sugar or refined carbohydrates, but in the end, I was able to avoid it a lot longer than I expected! Although now at almost 4 years old, she is exposed to sugar and processed foods, it is on a very limited basis.
I began the process by weaning her on to REAL foods (no baby cereal), starting with pure vegetables. I introduced as many vegetables as I could before introducing fruit, starting with the tarter fruits first.
Although it took a little more effort and planning it was possible. Wherever we went, I made sure that she had her own meal or snack packed so that it was easy to say no to any offers of rusks, biscuits or sweets for her.
I have received a LOT of negative reactions because of my choices! Folk jokingly called me “a mean mom” for “depriving” my child (and some weren’t always joking!) My response was that because it (sweets, biscuits or cake) was something she had not had yet, she had no frame of reference as to what she was supposedly missing out on! As far as she was concerned, the snack in her bowl was just as delicious as what everyone else was eating. Another common accusation I heard was that when they went to a party, my kids would go crazy and gorge themselves on the junk food there because they had been so “deprived” –I imagine that the reasoning was that exposing your child to sugar more regularly would prevent binge episodes later? Considering the addictive nature of sugar, I find this reasoning somewhat strange. I have no problem with my child now enjoying a good party and eating her fill, but already she understands that it’s not the norm and not part of our lifestyle.
I must say that given the latest global “health craze” I have been really surprised, by just how much negative attention this choice of mine made. It’s like people want to be or appear healthy, but have yet to really change their mindsets about food and how we eat. I once had someone shocked that I was giving my baby cheese to eat, while her child was enjoying mouthfuls of icing sugar!
Family are often the hardest to get on board, but I am so grateful that in spite of some teasing, for the most part, our families have honoured our requests to limit the junk invasion. I give credit to my sister, who loves to spoil the kids with gifts, but is always creative with her choices – and instead of sending sweets, finds things like Trail mix packs, mini Nut butter tubs, Dried fruit sticks etc to include in her parcel. They are always received with much delight!
With so many recipes easily available for healthy party treats or sugar free alternatives, I am surprised at the predictability of party menus- especially for toddlers. I would be pleasantly surprised to find myself at a kiddie’s party where for a change, store-filled party packs are replaced instead by homemade treats! For my daughter’s second birthday party, everything on the table was made by hand, suitable for both adults and kids and sugar free (one or two snacks had honey). I did it mainly for her sake, but also to show that it can be done. It DOES take more time, but can also be a lot of fun and where one can rope in the help of family; it can make for a fun afternoon!
These are by no means the best ideas or the only way to do things, simply hacks that I used to make the real food challenge slightly easier!
1. Pack you own snack of Real Food WHEREVER you go
For her first year, I would even pack my child’s own snack to a party! Sometimes I would give her something from the adults’ table like a meatball or quiche as there were often better choices for her there. While she was still so little; it was easy to keep her away from the party table. She still had a fun time, interacting with everybody and didn’t know she was missing out on anything.
Some ideas for snacks (from as young as 7 months) that I used were things like: Boiled/scrambled eggs, different kinds of cheese, rice cakes or any other gluten-free crackers, raw veggies, meat or cooked bacon cut into small pieces and fresh fruit, especially berries (generally no dried fruit until after a year because of the sulphur and sugar, though I did eventually introduce raisins and prunes – always looking for sulphur-free if I could). I also made a lot of my own food like courgette fritters, gluten free flapjacks or different flavoured muffins.
In other words, I tried to use real food as much as possible – even for “snack time”- and although I am more relaxed with certain ingredients now that she’s older, where I am able, I will always try giving her a real food item over a processed item. When travelling or eating out, I may still pack some food from home for her, to avoid having to resort to junk food.
(Note: At times it is inevitable that you will need to buy kids’ snacks, but be mindful of ingredients – many “healthy” kids’ foods are filled with sugar and presevatives)
2. Be creative when eating out
When eating out, if by some chance I didn’t have food with me, I would either order a breakfast (scrambled eggs and bacon) and share it with my daughter, or I would look at the “Side Orders” and order one or two things from there, instead of looking at the “Kiddies section” on a menu (which are often very limited in what they offer).
For example, one can order a sausage and cut it up, and in some restaurants, I’ve even been able to order, pineapple slices and fried banana! Or I’d order a fruit smoothie and ask them to leave out the honey and then share it with her. Obviously, this worked best while she did not need a lot to eat, but as she has grown, I have had to be more creative and admittedly there are those times, now where a toasted sandwich is the easiest choice available! Generally though, I will first look at the adult menu for her before resorting to the kiddies’ option.
Recently, while on holiday in Jeffrey’s Bay, I was happily surprised by one restaurant’s Kid’s Menu – with any of their “Main” options for children, instead of just chips, one could choose a side order of apple slices, carrot sticks, or yogurt. I praised them for their creativity and I am sure we are going to see more eating venues making the same changes. Another tip is to always have an extra empty Tupperware or Sippy cup/bottle in your bag for takeaways or to decant larger portions into for them to eat later. I have found this to be very useful.
3. Be careful how you label/talk about food
My husband and I have never intimated that sweets were “better” or “nicer” than the food on her plate. This is a tip I got from the “Raising Superheroes” book – to not “reward” with sweets or to refer to them as “treats” in any way. When I started weaning on to solids, I would place the juicy sweet strawberry on the same plate as her meat and vegetables, and if she chose to eat the fruit first, that was her choice. I never tried to bribe her by saying, “IF you eat the veg you can have the strawberry”. All food had the same value.
Even when I started allowing her to have biscuits or other refined food, I tried not to make a big deal out of it, so that she wouldn’t learn that that food was more “special” than other food. Now that she’s a bit older, she has learnt that some foods just do taste nicer than others, (it is totally natural for anyone to be drawn to sweetness), but overall I have not had to battle with her eating much in any way.
4. Don’t withhold sweetness completely
Just because I wasn’t giving sweets and chocolate, didn’t mean that I completely withheld everything that was sweet. I just didn’t want those things to be the first sweet things she tasted and so I tried to introduce her to naturally sweet flavours first. However, I did delay the introduction of sweetness as long as I could.
After she turned one, I made sweet home snacks for her like ‘Icies‘ (Plain yogurt and fresh fruit moulds), delicious Date Balls and my own ‘Chocolate’ (Nut butter, Coconut Oil and Organic Cacao, with optional Honey)
5. Set an example
This is not always easy, but it is worth it. As my daughter has got older and more aware of what we were eating, my husband and I would sometimes have to make the choice to forgo a dessert we might have ordered or say no to a biscuit we were offered at teatime. (Of course this was beneficial for us too!) As I’ve said, it’s not always easy, but I have found that the more we make and stick to our changes, the easier they become.
6. Lastly, Persevere!
Don’t give up and resort to junk when you child is not showing interest in the food in front of him/her. For two years, my child would not touch Avocado or Pawpaw (Papaya), but one day out of the blue, ate both! Persevere!
I have no guarantee as to what benefit these choices will have on my two daughters in the future. What I do know so far is that my first born has hardly been sick. In spite of only being breast fed until 5 months old, she has not been on any antibiotic or other ‘serious’ medication. Is this linked to her diet? I have a feeling , but I cannot be sure. She appears to be happy, healthy and developing perfectly on track. She enjoys a wide range of food and flavours, and yes, still has moments of fussiness like any kid, but will always try something before choosing not to eat it.
I am raising my second daughter in the same way and my hope and prayer is that both my girls will grow up with a healthy relationship to food and find it easier to make healthy choices for their bodies in the future. .
( I will write a follow- on article to this one in a year or two about any new tips, effects on my kids,how my second one has fared etc.)
One night I had a very clear dream. In it my husband and I were about to go for a walk on our farm and I wanted to put on my pair of gumboots. As I was about to put one on, I clearly heard Holy Spirit caution me to knock the boot over and see if there was anything in it before I put my foot inside it. I knocked the first boot over and there was nothing inside, but when I knocked the second boot over, a large, orange snake slithered out and away. In my dream, I was not startled by the snake, (though I was very relieved that I had not stood on it!) but was more impressed that I had listened to the Spirit’s prompting and in turn, averted a potential disaster! Still dreaming, the Lord began to speak to me and remind me that if I stayed attentive to His ‘still, small voice’, and obeyed its promptings, I would be protected from all dangers and hazards no matter how big or small.
‘ A few nights later, He spoke to me again in another dream. This time I was in a house with a group of people when suddenly a gust of wind blew through the house. It began to swirl around and someone shouted, ‘Look- it’s a whirly’ (what folk in our area call a mini-tornado-like swirl of wind and dust). In my spirit, I knew that it was much more threatening than that and as I was about to say, ‘No, it’s a real tornado’, the wind accelerated with such velocity that the whole house started shaking. Everyone was screaming and panicking when again I heard Holy Spirit speak to me. ‘Go upstairs’, he said. At first, I wanted to question the instruction – it did not make sense to me to even stay in the house, let alone ‘go upstairs’ while a tornado was hitting! I was ready to high-tail it out of the door! However, in spite of my misgivings, he reassured me, ‘Trust me and you will be safe’. I tried to get as many people to ‘safety’, by yelling at them to ‘get upstairs’. To my amazement the storm blew through the house and those who had followed me upstairs, were completely unharmed.
Again the Lord spoke to me and told me that when the “storms” of life, which lie ahead, come, if I stay in intimacy with him, attentive to His instructions and trust him – even when those instructions don’t make sense to me, I will be kept safe. Through these two dreams, He was also reminding me to consider Him in ALL things I do, both in big decisions that needed to be made, and in my routine daily activities. It was also a valuable reminder at the beauty of staying in intimacy with Holy Spirit and allowing Him to have place in our days.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you so much that you desire DAILY intimacy with me. Thank you that through your still, small voice, you instruct, convict, guide and protect me. You desire good things for me and my family. Please forgive me for times where I have been rebellious to your promptings, choosing instead to go my own way.
Please help me to obey your voice and to consider you in every area of my life – big and small. I pray for my spiritual ears and heart to be opened and attentive to you, always. Amen