American Yogini talks to Natalia Rose.

My private practice and personal interest has always had a heavy focus on kids and family. Maybe it’s because I have two children myself, but I cannot help but be very passionate about feeding the younger generation and hoping that the ills that plague my generation and my parents generation will, with perseverance and care, be remedied through the enlightenment of my children’s generation. Obviously, there are so many levels at which correcting what I would call the “mutation” in our dietary evolution must be addressed: in the home, in public health, in school cafeterias, in commercial products and in social settings. Even though it sometimes seems an insurmountable task, all it really takes is getting parents and kids motivated and enthusiastic about embracing a natural lifestyle.

Here’s how to start:

• The first thing that we all can do is be an example through our own lifestyles. By truly living this clean, prana-filled life that you are all becoming more and more at home with, you become a beacon to other parents and families, to your children’s teachers, doctors and especially to other parents and parents-to-be. We do not always need to be vocal to be heard. We can simply live this way and raise up our own beaming, light filled, mucus-free little ones with the good sense of natural living and we will inspire others.

• We must practice what we preach to our children (or better yet, practice and don’t preach). If you do not believe in eating meat or donuts and other junk foods, you must stand up for this when you purchase groceries. We cannot feed ourselves one way and then stock the refrigerator and cabinets with junk food that goes against everything we believe in for the others in our home (children, family, extended family, visitors). Our home must be the embodiment of our lifestyle. However, there is a fine line between living what we believe and forcing them to do what we have chosen to do. We don’t want to oppose anything so strongly that we wind up creating an eating disorder in our child or rouse anger and rebellion in the home. We must proceed sensitively. What I have found helpful in this regard is:

• Set the tone in the home: I keep only healthy foods in the house so that if they have the occasional non-ideal item outside the home it is not a big deal because it happens seldom.

• Avoid nagging but do explain to your kids why you make the choices you make in your lifestyle and why you do things differently to what is common.

• Permit exploration: I allow my children to try anything they want when we are in restaurants. They can even order a steak if they want to. Nothing is forbidden but I will not bring animal flesh other than fish into the home. I will not handle these flesh foods as the act of killing and eating animals is not in my truth. My children and husband respect this and know that they are always free to have such foods in any restaurant anytime.

• Prepare as much of your child’s daily food intake as possible: I pack my children’s lunches so that their school day eating is natural.

• Give them a sense of independence around food: I always let them choose what they would like to eat at mealtime. I keep lots of ingredients on hand for sprouted grain French toast or spelt pancakes for breakfast, sunshine burgers or sweet potatoes or their favorite soups for dinner and their lunches are always utterly delicious.

• Make it a sweet thing: I make sure there are fun sweets and desserts in the house so they can always have healthy indulgences whenever they like

• Let freedom ring: my kids never have to eat if they are genuinely not hungry, they can have more of one food than another, they can go into the kitchen at anytime if they would like something; while I do encourage eating at mealtime and refuse to be a short order cook, children need to feel empowered to follow their own palate and desires, particularly to avoid a sense of the parent holding too much sway over their eating. You can wield more power if you can give them more power. It creates a necessary balance that makes them feel free yet keeps them healthy.

• Make healthy snacks accessible: I keep bowls full of delicious apples and bananas around for “fast food” that they will take frequently during the day. My son will reach into the fruit bowl and wind up eating 2 apples and 2 bananas every day like a little monkey. At 4½ it gives him a sense of independence to take it when he likes without having to ask for help.

• We are all well aware of the cancer and weight crises spreading swiftly among our children. Too many children are suffering needlessly from obesity, depression, ADHD, asthma and more easily preventable physical and emotional ailments. The only way to help is to first start with your home and your children, standing up to all that our government, commerce and social conditioning hopes we will ignorantly keep consuming: such as their “square meals,” milk products, meats and packaged, processed foods that are outright killing our children physically and stealing their spirits emotionally.

• Food, however, while a good place to start and surely a necessary thing to get right, is only half of the equation. The other half is healing the emotional scars and societal habits that make us overeat and gravitate toward unfit foods to begin with. Our children are eating out of pain, out of a sense of loneliness brought about by our modern way of living so out of touch with each other. Our primary endeavor as parents must be to stand as a safe haven of unconditional love for our kids. Instead, we typically project our own pain and criticisms onto them. Children today are inundated with parental, societal and peer-projected expectations from academic and athletic competition. They are further over exposed to the constant onslaught of stimulation from the media. The incredible amount of anxiety that comes from this gets channeled into food because food serves as a numbing agent – a place they can go for temporary, albeit false comfort. Once they form this habit in the early years it is very difficult and in some cases impossible to change it sending them into a lifetime food and weight battle that eventually manifests in dire health and psychological consequences.

The only solution

We need to find every way we can to bring them peace. We can do this through sending them the message of unconditional acceptance in every single interchange we have with them each day. We do this by recognizing our own projections and correcting them if they are harmful. We do this by creating a home environment that is soothing, gentle and loving. Switch off the TV, light candles and enjoy dinner together, encourage older children take a relaxing bath and practice deep breathing exercises. Go for long walks together. Children are intuitive and would rather be with you having a gentle time than being over-stimulated by some form of media any day. From this place of peace they will also choose more natural paths, including how they eat.

The only way to bring them the kind of peace they need to have truly productive lives that serve themselves and their community one day is by opening our hearts and giving them what is sometimes difficult to give – attention and dedication to changing deep-seated habits and casting off deeply encoded cultural programmings about what matters, what is healthy and what it really means to be a good parent.

Once you find the bliss of peace that comes after you face up to the truth about how to best serve your families you will unleash a whole new spirit in the home that will shift the whole family unit into harmony and set the stage for health and well being in every area – from the kitchen to the classroom and beyond.

Natural eating, in turn will keep them calm and in sync with their inner selves and ultimately lead to better relationships, more creativity, better choices and a better sense of their place in the world. It is a healthy cycle that once begun feeds and sustains itself effortlessly.”

Ideas for healthy lunch bags

• Sprouted grain sandwiches filled with: Avocado, goat cheese and Dijon mustard Raw nut butter and pure fruit spread or raw honey Organic butter and raw honey Organic butter and pure fruit spread Sprouted grain bagels with organic cream cheese or organic butter Sprouted grain pita bread filled with nut butter and pure fruit spread

• Lara bars or other raw food bars

• Dried strawberries, dried pineapple or dried mangoes (unsulfured, no sugar added)

• Banana slices topped with cocoa powder and agave nectar

• Sliced apples topped with pumpkin pie spice

• To drink: Lemonade water: water with stevia and freshly squeezed lemon or lime

• All Organic Gourmet or Kollar cookies

• Raw brownies or other favorite raw food treat!

I personally keep lunches really simple: one healthy sandwich as above, a whole apple, a whole banana and a bar like a Lara bar or a whole grain cookie. This takes about 5 minutes to put together before school!

When it comes to feeding my family and advising my clients feeding their kids, I firmly believe in keeping it simple. Kids are usually happy with simple, natural foods. Don’t become too obsessed with perfectly combining foods for your kids either. Just make sure they are eating fresh, whole, largely raw foods most of the time and then you won’t have to worry about what they are doing the rest of the time.

I wish you and your family the most vibrant, love-filled lives!

Natalia Rose