Can I have chocolate? Look, cupcakes with pink frosting! All the other kids are having candy. Mom, why don’t we ever get … Holidays, birthdays and snack time always add pressure to give sweets and treats to the kids. It can be extra challenging when living a yogic lifestyle and following a yogic diet.
Do you recognize these cries for sweets? Do you find yourself stuck and don’t know what to do? Read on, because here I will share some tips, food for thought and recipes to make snack time, birthdays and treats easier when trying to follow the yogic diet. Ssshhh!! Number 10 will shock you, so make sure you stick till the end!
We have all been there, you walk through the grocery store or a shopping street and your kids see a treat in glowing bright colors screaming sugar overload and artificial colorings and additives. Nevertheless, our kids are deaf to those screams and only see the most wonderful, beautiful and tastiest-ever treat they can imagine. Of course you say ‘no’, because you want what is best for your child. You are committed to give your sprouts a wholesome and healthy childhood. But again, that is not the way your little darling sees it. She thinks it is mean that you never give them those kind of treats. He says he doesn’t want to be different from the other children (who have way nicer parents, by the way). And they do NOT like your YOGIC DIET!
Most of us didn’t grow up with this lifestyle, did we? My childhood was full of birthday cakes, cookies with pink icing, treats, snacks and you name it. My parents didn’t do organic. There was no awareness of additives, food coloring and artificial ingredients. We did our grocery shopping at discount stores and I don’t remember going to health food stores other than to look. We certainly had never heard of a Yogic Diet. My childhood was happy and although we couldn’t have every sweet we wanted, there were hardly any restrictions in the kind of treats we chose. I have lovely memories of blowing out candles on cakes, eating chips in the weekends, having chocolate bunnies at the Easter brunch table. In other words, all the things my children are asking of me now.
Still, I turned out well (if I may say so myself, thank you). I grew up and gained awareness of responsible snacking, weight gain consequences and health risks of the wrong nutritional choices. I learned about natural foods, started yoga and married an evenly (if not more) health conscious person than me. We started YogicFoods to bring the Yogic Diet to you and here you are. Namaste.
A quick word about sugar
What’s the rush
Before I get into our snack and treats routine, a quick word about sugar. Sugar is a mysterious thing. It is a natural product, most commonly derived from sugar beets or sugar cane. That being said, it doesn’t mean it is naturally good for you. Sugar is known to give your body a shot of energy (fast working energy), which leaves your body to want more once the famous sugar rush runs out. Which is one of the reasons it is considered an ingredient to consume with caution. Especially if you compare it to slow working energy providers as whole grains.
The other stuff
Another reason is, that most sugar is highly processed, refined, and bleached. Then, of course, there are new kinds of sweeteners commonly used nowadays in processed (baked) goods, like high fructose corn syrup, inverted syrups, and artificial sweeteners. None of which, as you probably know, are good for your body. Which is why us parents jump into NoNo mode when we see candy bars and bright colored cupcakes. As you are reading this article on alternative snacks and the Yogic Diet, I assume you already did your homework on sugar. So, I will not go into details here about the bad and ugly of sugar and I will save that for another blog post.
Sweet is sweet
In the recipes for our YogicFoods apps (get them here) we use natural sweeteners like honey or dried fruit or in some cases sucanat. These are unrefined sugars and accepted in the yogic diet. Nevertheless, these are still sugars. Just like fruit, fruit juice, dried fruits, fruit paste or fruit spread, even when they have no added sugars, they are still sweet and the (fruit)sugar content can still be very high. What I mean to say is, that even though honey or coconut sugar or fruit sugars are unrefined natural sweeteners, that doesn’t mean that baking with them grants you unlimited amounts of cookies or cakes to eat. Snack with awareness even when it is all natural.
My 10 secrets to Triumph Treats and Snack Time, the Yogic Diet way.
1) Talk, explain, repeat
You probably already do this. But it is important to know you are doing the right thing! Talking about your choices and the reason behind it, educates your children even if they do not always agree. Sometimes when my kids ask me for treats in the grocery store, I pick it up and read the ingredients to them. When they hear what artificial ingredients, color numbers, E-numbers (for you Europeans) and additives it contains, the excitement of eating it is kind of gone. Also focus on the good food. Point out to them the benefits of the food they eat. Why you choose it, how it benefits them, their mind and body.
2) Do it together
Including your kids in your meal prep helps them to get more excited about what they are eating. You can extend this to snacks by letting them choose what to have (from a few good options), let them break up the bananas for their smoothie, measuring out the ingredients for your ‘ice cream’, baking homemade snacks together or even making flowers, cars or figures with their fruit. I don’t do this every day, simply because I don’t always have time. But when we do, it makes everyone happier and snack time better.
3) Fruit First
The first thing I give when it is snack time is fruit. Pears, apples, bananas, blueberries, melon, grapes – you get the idea. This is especially great during the week. Yes, fruit contains fruit sugars, but in its purest form fruit is a great snack. We have a little fruit snack around 11am and another snack time in the afternoon around 4pm.
For the afternoon snack I like to add almond butter to the apple or some crisps (see number 8). Of course veggie snacks are super, like cucumber and carrot sticks. But let’s face it, we all know this already. We put it in their lunch boxes and offer it as a snack, but most of the time it doesn’t really satisfy this snack craving, does it? My youngest is also still a but small to munch away a carrot (he chews on it for a looooong time). Fruit somehow always gets eaten, even when the kids say they don’t want it. When that happens too often, I change things up a bit – read on to number 4.
4) Changing things up
To keep things interesting and to avoid complaining, I change things up a bit. This is still fruit, but presented in a new way that kids like. Think; smoothies, lassi, fruit and veggie pouches, apple sauce, dehydrated fruit, dried fruit etc. This makes eating fruit feel like a special treat. I particularly like the Bare apple crisps. The ingredient list is only apples, which are baked until crunchy. They are great for afternoon snack time. Here are some snack choices I buy.
5) Ice cream
There comes a time, when they will ask for ice creams. They will see people eating ice creams. Hear the jingle of the ice cream truck. Kids will eat ice creams in the books you read. Ice cream is all around and – lets be honest – it is magical and delicious. It is also full of sugar. If you are following a vegan diet, there are many dairy free options nowadays, that being said the sugar amount stays the same. Sugar free ice cream or low calorie ice creams have a lot of artificial sweeteners and other additives to make it taste better. So what to do? If you think of ice creams as in chocolate ice cream bars, ice cream sandwiches, cookie and dough ice cream scoops and packaged ice creams of all sorts… I’m afraid I cannot help you. If you think of vanilla ice cream, milkshakes or popsicles, there is hope, please read on.
Luckily, there are wonderful Yogic Diet ice cream alternatives you can easily make at home. I have done this so many times and it does satisfy the craving of something creamy, cold and sweet. For creamy fudge popsicles, I use avocado and greek yogurt to make it creamy. Dried fruit and banana make it sweet. For popsicles I use ripe soft fruits that I blend and freeze in popsicle molds. I do add honey to that sometimes. For “milkshake” I mix frozen bananas and coconut milk, almond butter (optional) and vanilla in my NutriBullet, to blend into a drinkable cold shake. Add a straw and bring on the smiles.
6) Birthday Cakes
Many yogis I know, do not celebrate birthdays at all, which (although not the reason) helps to avoid the birthday cake dilemma. There are many of you though, who are celebrating birthdays and want to do that more consciously. Just saying one day that you don’t celebrate your kids’ birthdays anymore, won’t fly that well I can predict. Luckily for you, I have baked many (many!) cakes following the yogic diet and shared them either in our YogicFoods apps or here on the blog.
As you may know, the yoga diet does not include eggs. If you are new to the yogic lifestyle and diet, and are still eating eggs, there are many recipes out there for cakes with reduced sugar, no sugar, natural sweetener, no fat, low fat – you name it, it is there. Making a tasty and presentable cake without eggs ánd low (or no) in sugar is an entirely different ball game. Besides that, YogicFoods is always committed to making each recipe beneficial for the health of body, mind and chakras by adding beneficial spices. On top of that, many cakes I have made are also vegan and/or gluten free. Get our apps here.
Here are 3 of my most loved recipes; delicious, festive and easy to make. I will give you a link to the blog post and the videos I made on our YogicFoods YouTube Channel where I post YogicFoods recipes of the Yogic Diet.
Another one of those treats that seem to be a magnet to kids are cookies. There are many organic cookies on the market nowadays. Also cookies made with beets, fruit juice, vegetables and what more. Nevertheless, they all are still fairly high in sugar, sugar syrups, palm sugar or corn syrups. Cookies without sugar are usually full of artificial sweeteners. If you find a tasty cookie without sugar or very low sugar, no egg and only natural ingredients, please let me know! I’ll do a Yogic Diet post about it. In the meantime, have a look at these delicious cookies. If the occasion arises that you need to have cookies, to hand out, to satisfy your children, to take to a potluck, for a birthday party… I’ve got you with these recipes below available on our YogicFoods Apps. Again, don’t go cookie crazy (although you may, because they are very tasty) moderation is key.
When I was a child, we would take a treat to school to hand out on birthdays. I am born in November, so my mom always gave me clementines to hand out as they were in season. In a cute basket, yes, but I wasn’t very popular around my birthday. Other children handed out candy bars or chips. Chips came in 2 flavors; salt and paprika. Nowadays there are so many options for chips. Also here, with the usual artificial additives to make them crispy for longer and to enhance flavor or color.
Fortunately for you yogis, the food industry is listening and a lot of healthy snacks are on the market today. Mind you though. Just because it SAYS healthy, doesn’t mean it IS healthy. I consider Yogic Diet healthy snacks to be organic, baked or dried (not deep fried), no additives, no added sugars and not to be highly processed. The apple crisps in number 4 is a great example of a healthy chip, although sweet and not savory. Alright, Caroline, you will say, show me! Well, here are some healthy chip alternatives that I would buy.
9) Timing & Prep
Snacks are called snacks, because they are not a meal. In point 3 I share with you, that I like to give fruit to start with. This is to satisfy the first cravings. After the fruit snack, they might still crave something crunchy (enter the chip alternatives) or sweet (think fruit and nut bars or dried fruit). Sometimes, though, I notice my kids are just really hungry, especially during a growth spurt or busy schoolday. That is when snacks won’t cut it and I simply make a whole grain toast with almond butter (usually that will do the trick).
This works great around 3-4pm, because that really is a long stretch from lunch to dinner. If this hungry feeling comes just before meal time, though, it gets a bit trickier. In that case I would stick to a snack and speed things up with my meal prep, so we can eat quicker. It also helps to give them snack bits of what you are making, some raw veggies, a tomato, a bit of plain rice. Not only is it a conversation starter, it is also a chance to prep your meal together (see point 1 and 2).
In my experience having set times for snacks and meals helps prevent children feeling hungry and wanting snacks. It also prevents you of being caught off guard or unprepared, unwillingly grabbing a snack you don’t really feel comfortable giving. You can add snacks to your weekly meal prep schedule, I will talk about in a separate post. This way you are well prepared for every day. This especially is handy when you pack school lunches in the morning and you are pressed with time. Besides that it gives you the opportunity to bring variety into your snack routine.
10) Once in a while
I promised you a shocker, right?! Well here it is… Sometimes, I do give my kids a ‘bad’ treat.
Don’t judge me yet, please. Let me explain. When our first child was was born, we saw a pure being. We made sure to breastfeed and later on to give her only the purest foods, healthy and organic. She was not allowed any of the usual treats.
This worked great for the first couple of years. As she grew older, she became more aware of what she could get, but wasn’t given. The lady at the counter offering a candy. The kids in the playground eating jelly beans. People licking ice creams in the park.
Of course she had questions. And demands! There would be discussions, explanations, understanding, but not approving. Most of the time we would get away with it. Until she started to secretly eat candies and treats. Sneaked to her by her grandma. Or shared by classmates. Fast forward and sweets had become an obsession. I’m talking more at length about this topic in my blog post about why I give my kids sugar.
That is when we decided to take away the mystique of the unknown. We felt it was better to have her taste it and be done with it, rather than to bottle up frustration. To teach her how to handle cravings and control desire, rather than to fuel an unhealthy relationship with sweet treats.
Teaching both our kids how to deal with emotional eating, peer pressure, desire and cravings, is now our main focus. Educating them about how commercials and marketing make you want things you don’t need is a common topic. It is all part of the journey to make them Life Long healthy eaters. And that is all and more I could wish for.
Read the whole article about our struggles and get to know HOW we handle our new found peace with sugar right here in “Why My Kids Eat Sugar”.
I hope I inspired you and that I gave you some ideas on how you can triumph treats and snack time with your kids and the yogic diet. Do you have any ideas for me? Let me know how you deal with snack time and sweet requests in your family.
Sat Nam and Namaste
Caroline & Gurpreet
YogicFoods is a blog about yogic foods, yogic diet and living a yogic lifestyle. Live the way you think is best for you. We share our experiences, give tips, share recipes and hope to inspire.
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