The first genetically modified crops were not introduced in the US until 1994. The food that my parents and I ate is not the same food my daughter eats. I can’t grab anything off the grocery store shelf without first checking to see if any one of the 94 ingredients that are possible gmos are listed on the label. She is being bombarded with artificial ingredients, genetically engineered crops, additives, and preservatives that her little body does not know what to do with. The long term effects of genetically modified organisms are not yet known. There is the possibility that the repercussions are tragic to humanity. You cannot alter the DNA of plants and animals in an attempt to mimic God and nature and it not have ill domino effects for future generations.
Every parent wants the absolute best for their children. Their ultimate desire is that their children are healthy, happy and whole. The food industry and media pose a formidable obstacle to our desires as parents and we must find a way to navigate through this genetically modified world to raise healthy children. It is not easy; it involves sacrifice, commitment, resolve and some compromise but we can ensure the health and safety for generations to come. I would like to share some of the strategies I employ to raise a healthy daughter in a genetically modified world.
1. Determine Non-Negotiables
It is important to set boundaries and make a firm decision on what you will not waver on. Now, my daughter can wear me down when she really wants something. She will just keep asking and asking and asking until finally I say, OK! But there are some things that no matter how much she asks, I will not acquiesce. For example, Fruit juices and drinks are a non-negotiable for me. She is not allowed to drink them. She is allowed to drink orange juice in the morning with her breakfast and she is only allowed to drink water the remainder of the day. She gets water in her thermos for lunch and she drinks water with her dinner. I do not allow her to drink any other fruit drink, even if it is organic and non-gmo verified. I want her to eat her calories, not drink her calories. I do not buy juice at the store even when she asks. It is a non-negotiable for me. Water is the most needed nutrient by the body. It makes up every part of every cell, tissue and organ in the body. I want to make sure she is getting what is essential to her health so she drinks water. Decide what is a non-negotiable when it comes to what your child eats and drinks and stick to it.
After you determine the non-negotiables, decide when you are willing to compromise and be flexible. Layla loves oreos and skittles and they are both garbage! Gmos, additives, artificial flavors, colors; you name it, oreos and skittles have it. I would rather her not eat it at all, but every once in awhile I let her indulge. Some days I surprise her and put mini oreos in her lunch and she is always so thrilled it is the only thing she eats out of her lunch. I like to have my treats, so I won’t deny her the treats she enjoys (in moderation). I pick my food battles so that I win the war against GMOs.
3. Substitute with Non-GMO and Organic Alternatives
This is one of the most important steps to raising healthy children. Look for the butterfly! This symbol means that the item is non-gmo verified and is safe. Buy organic! It means that the crops are not sprayed with toxic, cancer causing pesticides. Layla loves graham crackers and crackers, so I found a non-gmo verified version and I feel safe giving them to her. She likes to have barbcue chips, I found a non-gmo verified version. She loves chicken nuggets? I buy organic boneless, skinless chicken breast and fry them in non-gmo verified canola oil. Better than the “stuff” you get at McDonalds. She loves chocolate chip cookies? I bake cookies with organic ingredients. She loves apples and cantaloupe? I buy them organic. You don’t have to deny your children the foods they enjoy, just find a healthier, home cooked, organic and non-gmo version.
Layla loved pork bacon and refused to eat turkey bacon. She said turkey bacon wasn’t crunchy enough. No matter how many times I put turkey bacon on her plate, she refused. So what I did was buy the organic pork bacon which is free of sodium nitrates and nitrites. I began to explain to her that turkey bacon was much healthier and they put stuff in the pork bacon that was not good for us to eat. After a few months, I asked her how she felt about only eating turkey bacon and she said ok. It has been a month since I bought any pork bacon and now we only buy organic turkey bacon. It was important that she eat only turkey bacon and I made a plan to gradually make the switch. I talked to her about the dangers while allowing her to still eat it and then once I thought she was ready, I introduced the idea to her. I am currently in the process of making the switch from Special K cereal to a non-GMO verified cereal. She’s resisting, but I will employ the same tactics I used with the bacon to get her eating a healthier cereal.
We have a mantra in my house, “say no to gmo”. I talk to Layla about the dangers of genetically modified foods. I explain to her the importance of organic. How her body is growing and she needs fresh, organic fruits and vegetables so she can be big and strong. What she doesn’t know is that children are especially susceptible to the nerotoxicity of the pesticides that are used on fruits and vegetables because their bodies are not fully developed. I tell her that there are people who poison our food with gmos just to make money. When we are in the store I ask her to look for the butterfly and I exlplain that when she sees the butterfly, she knows its safe to eat. Yes, children should always do as they are told with no explanation needed. But I want her have this knowledge of clean eating. I want it to become who she is, so I explain why mommy does what she does. Why we eat what we eat and why it’s important for her to be healthy in our genetically modified world.
We must be strong and resilient in the fight for our children’s health. We must be intentional and demonstrate fortitude to ensure that our legacy is secure. We must ensure that it lasts and will not be snuffed out by obesity, chronic disease and shortened life spans. We have the power to raise healthy children in this genetically engineered world.
Kathleen Richardson is the Queen of Clean; a certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant and founder of the Beauty In A Barbell Nutrition and Wellness Consulting Firm, specializing in weight management, diabetes and hypertension management and making the switch to organic and non-GMO 💕