I asked Leslie to be a guest blogger on So Duck Soup. Being the fantastic person that she is, she agreed. And then she took it to a new level. I hope you enjoy her post.
Taking the Six Week Challenge with a Young Child
Liana’s invitation to do Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Six Week Challenge,” from his book Eat to Live, came at just the right time for us.
It was back in the summer and my daughter and I had just watched the movie Forks Over Knives at Hilo’s Palace Theatre. My daughter (I’ll call her E.) is 7, and she was really interested in the whole “plant-based diet” thing.
“I want to do that with you!” she volunteered when I told her I was going to do the Challenge.
There’s a really good summary of the Six Week Challenge at the blog Fat Free Vegan (that is a great, great resource for tasty recipes, good writing and support/ideas at her forum):
I bought a copy of the movie, and at my daughter’s request we watched it again. She was way more interested in it than I had anticipated. Neither of us were doing it to lose weight; we were/are interested in this way of eating so we’ll be healthy. She really likes the idea of eating plant-based foods and being smart about our health.
She really likes the idea, but she is 7 years old, and it turns out that hers is a modified “Eat to Live” way of eating.
She’s way ahead of where she was before, though, and I’m happy with it. She’s so interested and is learning so much about nutrition. She knows what is healthy and what is not, and her eating is now based on making choices, not just habit. This will serve her well throughout her life.
The first thing I was surprised to notice was that she stopped eating much meat. That started right after the movie, and she did it of her own accord (though she does still occasionally eat some, she often turns it down now when we’re eating out or at a potluck type meal, and that’s new).
I don’t buy animal food products for the house anymore – for instance, no more cows’ milk – and she has soy or almond milk on cereal and doesn’t even think about it. She does still drink milk for lunch at school, though I wish she could just drink water, but I haven’t made an issue of it.
When I occasionally buy yogurt, I pick up soy yogurt now instead of dairy. She complained once or twice, lightly, and has forgotten to complain ever since. She likes it.
I occasionally buy Daiya cheese, which she loves melted on a whole-wheat tortilla or on our lentil tacos (with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes). Me, too. That stuff is good!
Instead of buying ice cream, we make our own frozen desserts (absolutely delicious! She’ll tell you). (Hot tip: Always make sure there are frozen bananas in your freezer.)
Sometimes we get a Rice Dream non-dairy frozen dessert bar when we’re out and need a snack; they sell them individually in the standing freezer that is at the back, right-hand side of Hilo’s Island Naturals as you walk in. They are delicious. (Though she’ll definitely still eat a regular ice cream at the pool, too.)
Small steps for her. But lots of them.
I started out our first Challenge trying lots of new, interesting-to-me vegan recipes, and finally realized that wasn’t the best approach with a little one. Not with mine, anyway. Her taste buds are still only 7, and though she will always try new things, she wasn’t liking some of them yet.
I realized we needed to incorporate more of the familiar. She has always liked my homemade lentil or split pea soups, so we have those frequently. We like both soups with some lemon squeezed over the top after it’s served in the bowl.
I make what we call Gram’s Chili, leaving out the meat and adding another type of bean or two. (The American Heart Association calls it “Chili Con Carne.” What do they know?) This is a chili my mom is known for, and it’s delicious. I make it in the crock-pot, as I do many of my soups as well. There is nothing better than wandering into the kitchen at 5 p.m. and smelling dinner ready.
She will eat salad with her favorite papaya seed dressing. I need to work on making or finding a healthier dressing that she finds tasty.
My daughter likes Chef AJ’s Disappearing Lasagna, but that’s a dish that takes more time and I generally only fix that when we have company. I feed that to meat- and cheese-eaters and they get interested and start doing the Six Week Challenge. Really! It’s happened two or three times already. That is one delicious dish.
If I’m eating something E. doesn’t like, I will still occasionally fix her an egg and toast (with Earth Balance instead of butter) and cut up some fruit. They are eggs are from our own free-range hens. My daughter’s also a big fan of the peanut butter and honey sandwich on whole wheat bread.
Neither of these things are totally vegan, I know. To me it’s about her heading in the right direction. She’s definitely headed there. We both are.
Are you bringing a kid or five along with you on the Six Week Challenge? What’s working? Not working?