At this point I would say my girls, ages 14 and 9, are eating about a 75% clean diet. There is still a little junk in my house. I have an evil plan to bring my kids over to the clean side, and here it is:
1.) I'm gradually making the switch. I've mentioned on my blog before that I did not do the big purge recommended in Tosca's Eat Clean Diet Recharged. http://eatcleandiet.com/splash/recharged/recharged_holder.html I think purging the house is a splendid idea in a perfect world, but as mine is imperfect I chose to go a different route. I purged my major temptations: chips, ice cream and cookies, and left the rest for the kids to thin down. This makes the changes more gradual. When the Skippy is gone, the only peanut butter option is my clean, all natural peanut butter. When the ketchup is gone it will be replaced either with the homemade version in the Eat Clean Diet for Family and Kids http://www.eatcleandiet.com/about_the_diet/the_books.aspx#The+Eat-Clean+Diet+for+Family+and+Kidsor with something organic and sugar free. The last lunch meat I ever intend to purchase was packed in a lunch box 2 weeks ago, and that has been replaced with thinly sliced turkey and chicken that I cooked myself. There are still some lunchbox goodies like Rice Krispie treats and Jello pudding cups. They will gradually be parceled out when school starts back up, mixed in with some homemade healthy muffins, bars and cookies. I feel that this method will forestall a potential mutiny!
2.) There is nothing else to eat. I am positive their sense of self-preservation will kick in long before starvation prevails, leaving them crawling weakly towards the pantry in search of a Twinkie. They may grumble and gripe, but they will eat an apple, some nuts or some tzatziki and pita chips before dying.
3.) Food is constantly prepped and ready to grab. It would rock their little fast-food worlds if they were required to prepare it as well as eat it. So when I come home from the grocery store I wash the fruit and put it in bowls on the counter or fridge. Veggies are sliced if they are to be eaten raw. There are jars of nuts, trail mix, and clean granola on the counter. Clean crackers and cheese are available. Pitas and tomato sauce are available for mini pizzas, and leftovers are immediately packaged in single serving containers for easy reheating, in the dire situation that a meal might be required.
4.) Clean up old favorites. I have come up with clean versions of many of their favorite "dirty" foods. Some of these are through recipes from clean eating books and websites. Others are trial, error and experimentation. A week's dinners might include:
Turkey burgers on whole wheat natural buns
Sweet potato fries
Chicken and broccoli stir fry with honey garlic sauce
"Fried" brown rice
with spinach, tomato,and low fat cheese
Whole wheat spaghetti
Turkey and spinach meatballs
Clean marinara sauce
Roasted chicken breasts
Roasted veggies: White potato, sweet potato, carrots, and cauliflower
Homemade pizza topped with
herbed tomato paste
grilled chicken and veggies
mix of feta and low fat mozzarella
There are a lot of recipes I am dying to throw into the mix from my Family and Kids Cook book that I just haven't gotten to yet.
And here is a quick list of the things I don't do.
1.) I don't restrict them when we are out. I hope that in time they will naturally make better choices.
2.) I don't preach to them about how "clean" something is.
3.) I don't cave on requests for "just this once" bringing unhealthy food into the house.
4.) I don't force them to have a completely clean menu on special occasions like birthday dinners, holiday meals and parties.
I'm seeing some progress. We have had a dozen cookies sitting in a canister on the counter since Christmas. There are 10 left but the fruit drawer is quickly depleting. When Dad took them to Wendy's last week my youngest ordered Mandarin Oranges for her side instead of french fries (yes, they are loaded with sugar but her head was in the right place.) My oldest has been looking through my cookbooks and Clean Eating Magazine http://www.cleaneatingmag.com/minisite/ce_index.htm and experimenting with some recipes. She was responsible for some spectacular sweet potato fries with dinner last night! By summer I expect to have more progress to report.
As I make these foods over the next week I will post some photos and some recipes.
Have a squeaky clean day!