“As a kid, I got three meals a day.
Oatmeal, miss-a-meal and no meal.”
– Mr. T
On a long enough timeline, if a food that you shouldn’t be eating like cookies or ice cream is in your pantry or refrigerator, it will go in your mouth. One of the very first steps on your road to a fitter and healthier lifestyle should be to throw away or donate the foods that do not work towards your goals. Yet, when I suggest this to my students, the excuse that I hear most often for why these foods remain in the household is, “Well, I just keep those things in the house for the kids to have. They don’t want to eat what I’m eating.” This absolutely destroys me. There are so many things wrong with this, and it needs to be corrected.
In our family, my sister has been the only one who remained fit her whole life. She started with dance as a kid, which led to gymnastics, which led to weight training, which led to fitness competitions. My father had been a semi-pro football player and an above average athlete in his youth, but injuries eventually caused to him to adopt a mostly sedentary lifestyle during my childhood. As a result, I grew up adopting my dad’s poor eating habits and never had much of an interest in working out or trying to be fit. Essentially, my father’s bad habits became my bad habits. In a sense, my sister was an anomaly. She was the lucky one. She fell into many different activities that kept her pursuing a healthy lifestyle. I, on the otherhand, started watching movies, playing video games, and eating whatever I wanted, which was never, ever healthy. I think my story is most like the majority of children out there.
You are your children’s image of the world. Whatever you do, is what they will start doing. Your habits will become their habits. You must lead by example.
In order to successfully break bad habits, and then create new positive habits, you must have a big enough reason WHY you want to do these things. Children don’t have a reason why. They won’t have a reason why. They have yet to grasp an understanding of such concepts and so don’t understand the need to start eating broccoli when it seems to them that they could just as easily have McDonalds. They don’t yet have an understanding of why they should exercise to stay strong and healthy, when they could just as easily sit around and watch cartoons or play video games. You have to see things from their perspective. They won’t start to have a reason why until after it’s too late and the bad habits have taken hold.
Now come back to your own perspective. Remember what feelings you had, and are having, that spurred you to make a change. They weren’t positive feelings most likely. There was sadness there. There was pain and frustration at times. Now you are looking at a much more positive path ahead of you, and this is great, but think about what it took to get you there. This is the legacy you are leaving for your children. The sadness and pain you might have felt are the same things that they are going to go through if they grow up with your bad habits. It is the hard truth.
This is why it kills me when parents tell me that they keep unhealthy foods in the house because that is what their kids will eat. Why in the world, if you are trying to change yourself for the better, are you allowing your children to continue the bad habits that they learned from you to begin with?
Our kids need our help the most.
Without us they are lost. You must lead by example.
Sure, if you put a plate of broccoli in front of them instead of a slice of pizza, they are going to react poorly. They will kick and scream. For the sake of your children’s futures, you are the parent; you must not let your kids run the household. If they don’t want to eat the healthy things, they can go to bed hungry; and when they wake up, they can eat cold leftovers for breakfast. They will learn, and their future will be brighter. They will start to do better in school. Their confidence will grow and as they get older, it won’t be such a difficult thing to maintain a healthy lifestyle because it’s just what they’ve always done.
Luckily, not everything has to be plain broccoli (I love plain broccoli now.) Some healthy meals just so happen to be tasty as well; and since breakfast is the most important meal of the day, here are three ways you can make overnight oatmeal.
Overnight oatmeal is a no-cook solution to a quick grab-and-go breakfast option. It is a perfect and healthy choice for breakfast that will fit into a hectic morning of getting the kids to school and yourself to work. The oats will absorb the moisture overnight. The following is a basic template of how to create any kind of overnight oats you want. Simply throw these things into a mason jar, put a lid on it, shake it up a bit, and leave it in the fridge overnight. All you have to do in the morning is take it out of the fridge and eat it.
Basic Overnight Oats
3/4 Cup of Rolled Oats
1/4 Cup of a Nut
1 TBS of a Seed
Pick a Fruit
1/2 – 1 Cup Almond Milk
That’s it. Just put those thing in a mason jar. I like to shake it up. Enjoy tomorrow morning. Now that we have that basic template down, here are three slightly more interesting variations that you can practice with. They follow the template above with only a slight twist that I added to each. My thought process was, “I like pie. Can I make pie for breakfast?” The answer is yes. Yes, I can.
Apple Cinnamon Oats
1/2 – 3/4 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Medium Granny Smith Apple
1/4 Slivered Almonds
1 TBS Chia Seeds
1 TSP Cinnamon
1 TSP Raw Honey
Fill the rest of the way with Almond Milk
Apple Cinnamon is always a staple. You can’t go wrong. For breakfast this is the oatmeal version of Apple Pie. Throw the first 5 ingredients into the mason jar. Give it a good shake to get that all mixed around, then open it and fill the mason jar the rest of the way with Almond milk. Close it back up and stick it in the fridge. Done.
Carrot Cake Oats
1/2 – 3/4 Cup Rolled Oats
1 large Carrot, Grated
2-3 Medjool Dates, chopped small
1 heaping tsp Pumpkin Spice
1/4 Cup Crushed Walnuts
1 TBS Chia Seeds
Carrot Cake! Typically in Carrot Cake you would use raisins. To add sweetness to these oats, and to add more nutrient value than just raisins, I used Medjool Dates. Dates are sometimes called Nature’s Caramel. Super sweet but also deeply rich in nutrient value. Also, instead of pulling out the cinnamon, and the nutmeg, and the allspice, I just used Pumpkin Spice. It smells amazing. Put the Oats, Chia, Pumpkin Spice, and Walnuts in first. Shake it up. Then put the Carrot and the Dates in there. They won’t really separate when you shake so I just put it on top. Add the almond milk the rest of the way to fill the jar. Close it up. Slip it in the fridge. Give it another shake, cause why not. Done. Perhaps consider stirring when you are ready to eat it.
Blueberry Pie Oats
1/2 – 3/4 Cup Rolled Oats
1 Cup Blueberries
The juice of half a large Lemon
1 tsp Raw Honey
1/4 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Crushed Pecans
1 TBS Chia
This one will take a little bit of cooking actually. You could follow the basic template and just throw the ingredients into the jar like usual, but I decided that if this was going to be like a Blueberry Pie, then I wanted to make a delicious and gooey Blueberry Compote for these oats.
In a sauce pan, put the Blueberries, honey, water, and lemon juice. Turn the heat to MEDIUM. Let them simmer there for eight to ten minutes. It should look like this:
Now, in the jar, place the oats, chia, and pecans. Shake it! Then put the Blueberry Compote on top. Then add the Almond milk. Put on the lid, shake it up again to feel good about yourself, and put it in the fridge. Done!