There’s no point in avoiding it: kids’ meals these days are not healthy! They’re full of ultra-processed ingredients that are not nutritionally balanced to give our kids what they need to grow healthy and strong. Katie Kimball joins me to talk about how to get your kids to eat healthier, even when they’re picky, and the importance of getting them into the kitchen to start cooking for themselves.
Listen to the Episode
Get Kids in the Kitchen by
- Developing skills over recipes
- Not bringing them in to help right before mealtime until they have the skills
- Encouraging their contribution to the meal
About Katie Kimball
Katie Kimball is the national voice of healthy kids cooking. She is a blogger, TEDx speaker, former teacher, and mom of 4 kids who founded the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse, recommended by The Wall Street Journal in 2020 as the best online cooking class for kids.
Her blog, Kitchen Stewardship, helps families stay healthy without going crazy, and she’s on a mission to connect families around healthy food, raise critical thinking skills using the lab of curiosity that is the kitchen, and grow the Kids’ Meal Revolution where every child learns to cook.
The Problem with Kids’ Foods
Katie Kimball shares her story of how she discovered just how unhealthy and ultra-processed most kids’ food actually is. She’s on a mission to help improve kids’ diets to create nutritionally balanced, tasty meals they’ll enjoy.
Every bite counts when you’re feeding little humans, that’s why it’s so important that you’re providing nutritionally balanced foods for them. But what about picky eaters? It’s a phase that just about every kid will go through, but Katie explains the secret: don’t give in to them and keep providing them with the healthy options you choose.
While Katie is mostly an advocate of baby-led weaning, she does talk about the problem with it. She also brings up the issues with kids eating pureed food from those pouches. By skipping the puree on a spoon stage or going straight to solids, children miss out on some of the key steps to eating.
Get Your Kids in the Kitchen
Katie makes a great point when she says that even if a kid is picky if they’ll still eat a variety of foods, they’ll still get a variety of nutrients, which is so vital in those early formative years. This is one of the reasons why Katie is such a big advocate of getting your kids in the kitchen as early as possible.
We both know how stressful it can be for parents to get our kids in the kitchen – they’re slow and messy, right? But Katie gives some practical steps to start getting them comfortable and excited to get in the kitchen and help cook the family meals with you.
Getting kids in the kitchen early helps them develop a confidence that they’ll take with them throughout their life. Early kitchen skills help foster a sense of connection, confidence, and community that they can enjoy and continue to learn with, especially when they reach their teen years. It’s so important to encourage kids of all ages to take ownership of their own health and parents need to be the guide.
Are you worried you or your kids might have nutritional deficiencies? Call the Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic today and schedule your first appointment at 319-363-0033.
“Perhaps Hamburger Helper and bottled dressing is not actually the best, well-rounded meal. Perhaps I should buy some vegetables and figure out how to feed this little human being for which every bite counts so much.” [2:20]
“Kitchen stewardship was born by helping people balance their time, their budget, their environment, and their family’s nutrition.” [3:35]
“If we’re not comfortable in the kitchen, as the parent’s generation, we’re certainly not teaching our kids. Twenty years from now, we’ll hear that same story, ‘oh, I wish I knew how to be healthy!’” [4:04]
“We have to stop letting the kids make their own nutritional choices. They do not have the ability or the knowledge to do that in a healthy way, to be healthy, successful adults.” [8:14]
“If we don’t let the obesity and nutrition metrics scare us just a little bit, at least enough to care about kid’s health, then we are doing that younger generation a huge disservice.” [10:49]
“Eating is so very sensory. If any of your senses are overprocessing or underprocessing, eating is hard. That is another root cause of picking eating.” [16:10]
“The more exposure a child has to anything, the more they’re going to be able to approach that food with curiosity and not fear, as they move on. More variety equals more quantity.” [27:40]
“When kids are given responsibility very early and so there is an unbroken line of motivation. They’re intrinsically motivated when they’re very young and if they’re already able to be taking family responsibility, it grows.” [39:08]
In This Episode
- The problem with kid’s meals today [5:15]
- What we need to do to improve kid’s meals [7:30]
- How to prevent your kids from becoming picky eaters [12:15]
- The problem with baby-led weaning [20:00]
- Why introducing a variety of foods is so important [28:00]
- The benefits of teaching your kids in the kitchen [36:00]
- When to start including your kids in the kitchen [38:15]
- Why it’s so important to learn together in the kitchen if you, as a parent, don’t know how to cook [21:45]
- How to encourage older kids to take ownership of their health and nutrition [42:30]
Links & Resources
Katie Kimball 0:03
Perhaps hamburger helper and bottle dressing is not actually the best you know well rounded meal
Dr. Stephanie Gray 0:12
Welcome to the your longevity blueprint podcast. I'm your host, Dr. Stephanie gray. My number one goal with the show is to help you discover your personalized plan to build your dream health and live a longer, happier, truly healthier life. You're about to hear from Katie Kimball. Today we're going to take a dive deep into truly feeding kids healthy helping the picky eaters and learning strategies to include kiddos in the kitchen, ultimately creating a kid's meal revolution. Let's get started.
Thanks for joining me for another episode of The your longevity blueprint podcast today. My guest is Katie Kimball. She's a national voice of Healthy Kids Cooking is a blogger TEDx speaker, former teacher and mom of four kids who founded the kids cook real food ecourse recommended by the Wall Street Journal in 2020 as the best online cooking class for kids, her blog, kitchen stewardship helps family stay healthy without going crazy. And she's on a mission to connect families around healthy food, raise critical thinking skills using the lab of curiosity that's in the kitchen and grow the kids meal revolution where every child learns to cook this is going to be fun. Welcome to the show, Katie. Oh, thank
Katie Kimball 1:22
you, Dr. Stephanie.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 1:24
So tell us your story. Before we started recording I shared with you I'd heard you speak off as many of my guests have been been involved. And I voted for you because you were just so empowering, so inspiring. I didn't even I don't even think I had a kid at that point, years ago. But I thought, oh my gosh, this woman she knows what she's doing has such a passion. And so I want you to tell the audience more of your story, like how you became the national voice of healthy kids cooking?
Katie Kimball 1:49
Well, in kindergarten, I knew I was going to be a teacher beyond a shadow of a doubt. And that's exactly what happened. I went to school for teaching, I got a job teaching third grade. And I only taught for two years because I had my first baby and I'm a perfectionist. And so I knew I could never full time teach and full time mom and do them both even like B plus well, so that was not okay for me. And so I again, I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom. And I was able to do that. And so really, for me, it was having a baby that opened my eyes, perhaps Hamburger Helper, and bottle dressing is not actually the best, you know, well rounded meal. And perhaps I should buy some vegetables and, and figure out how to feed you know, this little human being for which every bite count so much. So for me, that was my own, you know, food revolution, so to speak.
And, and when I quit teaching, we were still very young, ran the budget and the numbers are in the red, which is never what you want to see. So I thought okay, um, I guess I need to do something. Do you guys sell Pampered Chef Do I like I thought maybe I'd write a book, which is hilarious. Looking back, because I'm sure you know, writing a book is neither a fast nor effective way to make actual dollars. No. Right. So that was I did not know it at the time. That was a really bad idea. That was the one I pursued. And someone told me maybe you should write a blog and see if anyone cares about your idea. This is 2008 I literally said what's the blog? I don't even know. But I three months later, I entered the online world thinking I'm going to teach people all the things I failed at the last few years as I was learning to cook from scratch, you know, so I I fumbled my way through the kitchen. And as a teacher, I was always thinking like, how would I explain this to other moms and like save them this struggle, you know? So that's where kitchen stewardship was born just helping people balance their time, their budget, their environment and their family's nutrition?
Well, I thought I would be the teacher I ended up being the learner, actually. Because once I entered sort of the real world real food blogosphere, I realized I had so much to learn about healthy nutrition. And that's good. That's a good thing. Like I'm still learning and I love the learning part. And a lot of people had a lot to learn. So I kept hearing a similar story from the community I was building. And they would say, Katie, like, I love this, like I really want to be healthy. But this is so hard because my mom never taught me to cook. And I thought, okay, if we're not comfortable in the kitchen as the parents generation, we're certainly not teaching our kids, right. And 20 years from now we're going to hear that same story. Oh, I wish I gotta get healthy. But my mom never taught me to cook. So I thought as an educator, as a mom, you know, every kid I added, I stopped doing as much in the kitchen with them, you know, right.
Like I had these ideas that I was gonna be all such a good mom, I was going to teach my kids all the things I was doing. And that's so cute, an easy one. And then the more than work, as I added, I just kind of realized, Oh, I've kind of forgotten to like, do all those ideals that I had when I just had my oldest. So I knew I knew I needed to get my kids back in the kitchen. I saw all these other moms who didn't even know they needed to teach their kids to cook, but I could see I could future cast and see like this is going to be a future problem. So that's when I created kids cook real food and just sort of got on this mission like the more I hear families about what dinner looks like in houses that aren't mine. The more I realize how important this is.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 5:06
Absolutely. So you said kids cook real food. So tell me what do you think real food is? So what's wrong with kids meals today? Oh, Dr.
Katie Kimball 5:14
Stephanie meals, it just okay. Obviously I get a little emotional about
Dr. Stephanie Gray 5:20
this. It's, that's okay. That's the way we have lowered the bar for kids
Katie Kimball 5:23
is absolutely ludicrous and dangerous. It's so dangerous when you look at what goes into school lunches, you know, fast food kids meals, there's there's our entire sections in the store that are aimed right at kids. And it has made it so easy for parents to short order cook, right, because the kids say I like this, I don't like this, you're having power struggles at the table. And man is it easy to buy the diner chicken nuggets and the French fries and throw them in the oven. Right? Even if the family has, you know, healthy food intentions for the for the adults. So that's when I when I think about kids meals really like we're all human beings, we all have tastebuds on the same digestive system, there's really no reason that the food kids eat should be different than how adults eat except perhaps maybe a little less season, maybe cut up smaller. Okay, thank you very much. So should beginning an end of kids meals. So that's my mission is to redefine a kid's meal as one that a child has cooked. Instead of just the only doggone thing my kid will eat.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 6:26
And now, as you're saying, kids meal is not like chicken nuggets or diet, whatever you said dine on nuggets and fries. I'm thinking well, that's what some parents are eating. So the parents, which is another problem. So let's I know a lot of my audience understands this. But what's wrong with that sort of meal? Talk about nutrition that comes in that sort of meal versus how you cook for your family?
Katie Kimball 6:45
Right? I mean, the the ultra processed quality is kind of target number one for me. So even if there's sometimes good things going in, right, sometimes there's a chicken nuggets with like, broccoli Incorporated, I'm sure it's like a teaspoon of broccoli. But it's so Ultra processed, that we know that there are chemicals going in our kids, right? We know that the food is largely denatured. And our kids are not getting that variety. What is what is it said it's 25 plant different plant varieties per week minimum that we should be eating for healthy gut bacteria. That is not,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 7:20
not many two year olds are getting that well, you're yours are but yeah, we need to teach our my audience get their kids all those vegetables. So how do we raise the bar? What do we need to do?
Katie Kimball 7:31
I think first we need to, to allow in our own minds to redefine, right. So what I said about a kid's meal, I was like I really need parents to believe that, okay, your child does not need different food, they want different food. And literally their job. Like if they were to walk into an HR department and say I'd like a job, the child's job is to push the parents boundaries, and to figure out where their control ends and where their parents control begins. So when they say well, I don't want this, I don't like this. And we just give them what they want. We're not doing our job, because our job is to set the boundaries. Let the kids make some choices within appropriate boundaries for their age. But like we have to stop letting the kids make their own nutritional choices, they do not have the ability, they don't have the knowledge to do that in a healthy way to be successful, healthy, independent adults. So we raised the bar by just stopping. We stopped giving our kids bland, ultra processed food that is quote, kid friendly. Okay, kid, pea pods are kid friendly. mandarin oranges are kid friendly, like lots of vegetables are kid friendly if we just serve them to our kids enough, or maybe in a fun way. Right.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 8:46
I love that. So I know you're obviously very passionate about this. So what are the stakes for not making these sorts of changes for us not raising the bar? What impact is that going to have on society?
Katie Kimball 8:55
So I've been online now for what is it 12 years, which means I've I've shared a lot of information with my audience. I've shared a lot of different programs from other people with my audience. And here's what I noticed. The adults out there get really interested in brain health and cancer, right? We are all scared to pieces that we're going to lose our brain capacity. Nobody likes that idea or that we're going to get the big C. Right. So we will watch summits and we will listen to interviews, and we will dive into brain health and cancer and a few other things. But when it comes to KidsHealth crickets, Nobody is worried enough. Because I think we look at our kids and we think they're fine. They're thin enough. They run around a little bit, you know, right? Like we look at our kids and we think they're okay. They might be on a daily Claritin, but isn't that normal? But when we look at these statistics for kids, the trajectory going upward on all the scary things is really quite severe. So we know that right now.
Well, not right now. Pre pandemic numbers. One in three high school kids were clinically anxious or depressed. That's a lot. Same one and three were obese, the pandemics made everything worse. We don't know where the numbers are going to land, it's definitely higher. We know that depression has increased 30% In our kids in just 10 years. And obesity is the same. I think I don't have the number in front of me. But I want to say obesity has like doubled or tripled or something since kind of our childhood in the younger age groups. I mean, we're even seeing preschoolers quite significantly, being obese. Now, Health at Every Size. Wonderful. That's great. However, the facts say that obesity is definitely linked to diseases of civilization like diabetes. Yep. Yeah. So So I don't think that is a singular metric. But I think it's something that if we don't let it scare us a little bit, at least enough to care about kids health, then we are doing the that young generation a huge disservice. Right?
I mean, the people you work with, if they're coming in with diabetes, or heart disease, or an autoimmune disease that didn't start the day, they got diagnosed, but didn't start the day they had their first symptom that started decades before, right with the foods are eating the cells that my kids are building today are going to direct the cells that they build in 10 years, etc. And so I am so so committed to building healthy habits. I think it's all about habits. Right as what do we understand? What do we know about food? What kind of relationship to food do we have? I mean, the picky eaters right now, there are so many kids who are literally afraid of food, they will run away from the table, if they're a parent puts a vegetable near their plate. That is not an okay relationship with foods. We're breaking some things here and, and we need, we need to get a little nervous enough to make some changes.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 11:49
So why do you think we have so many picky eaters? I used to think, Oh, my son's not a picky eater. He'll eat everything. And then one day overnight, he like became a picky eater, and I thought, What am I doing what just happened? What changes were made that my son now doesn't want to eat the salmon he was eating last week. Thankfully, he's back to eating salmon, which is good. But why do we have so many picky eaters and how can moms prevent this picky eating?
Katie Kimball 12:11
Well, your story is perfect. Can I use your? Yeah, yeah. Okay, so how old was your son when he overnight turned into a picky eater?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 12:18
I had a feeling you're gonna ask me that? I don't know. I'm probably too maybe that was my guests. Yeah.
Katie Kimball 12:26
Okay, what's my guess? Because when we think about child development, okay, for the first, what is it year to 18 months of their life, the child literally has no world other than themselves. And the parent is actually an extension of themselves. That's why they they're not even that nervous when parents walk away. That separation anxiety doesn't start, right until after 18 months or two, because they actually think that the parent is them. They don't it's not even separated. Fascinating, right? So our kids, our kids are developing so quickly. In those toddler years, it's the it's the fastest stage of brain development, second only to or with first only to adolescence. So they're changing so fast. And so when I said a child's job starting at about age two is to figure out where their control ends, and where your control begins. They're even trying to figure out where their person ends, right? And your person begins, like, it's a big job. So what are they going to do? They're going to test they're going to say, Now, did your son's palette and taste buds actually change? And salmon tasted gross to him? Not at all. He just thought, what happens if I say no, we'll see.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 13:31
Right? Where you're not getting so much to gain. So you're gonna have to figure this
Katie Kimball 13:35
out understand? So I went and did one of us using sample because he said he likes salmon again, which I knew meant that you stuck to your standards. Yeah. Right. And you had those boundaries. And the boundaries are, there's a number of foods on the table salmon is one of them. If you don't want the salmon, well then here's your broccoli, or here's your salad. Whatever else you had that day, right. Is that how you ran it? Yeah, yeah. And your son eats salmon again.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 13:59
Does he does not just to digress your foresight. So yes, he is he's eating salmon, however, then what I do is I go by different kinds of salmon. So now he's picky within the salmon. He wants to darker red salmon, lighter pink salmon. But clearly that's a control thing, right? And he gets whatever we buy. That's that's how it's gonna go. But But now he's apparently he's a two and a half year old salmon kind of sweater because he's getting picky within what we're feeding him. But clearly, that's a control thing where he's just voicing, right? It's, you know, what,
Katie Kimball 14:29
you're just such a good example. This is gonna, like write the textbook around Stephanie and her child because because one reason that we do have so many picky eaters is because parents get a little lost. The child starts to assert their control and we say, Oh, what do we do? Okay, well, I don't, I don't want them to cry. I can't have them starved. Right. And we kind of give them what we they want too much. And the culture makes it too easy. Right? The food marketers make it too easy. So that's one reason, but it's not the only Reason, we're seeing a lot more kids with actual physical root causes of picky eating. And so and one of them, maybe behind your son's story, and that's sensory processing. Hmm. Okay, so I think it's because of the overload of toxins in the world. I don't think that's been proven yet. But adults and children alike are having sensory processing difficulties, right? We're think about the market for like, tagless shirts, seamless socks, right? Ever. Everyone's like, oh, things are itchy.
Like, you know, if we had to wear what people wore 150 years ago, I feel like we'd all be walking around looking like we were having seizures because, right, because they were wearing like wool sweaters and like uncomfortable Levi's jeans. Something has changed in our physiology that we have more highly sensitive people. And whether that's the sense of touch, whether it's hearing, vision, taste, smell, texture, okay, all of those things are happening when we eat. In fact, eating is one of only two things humans do that uses all of our senses at the same time. Hmm. Next is the other one fun fact, because I'm in a group of adults, I can say that. But but our eating is still very sensory. And so if any of your senses are over processing or under processing, eating is hard. And so that actually is another root cause in trust, picky eating. And another is just difficulties in the mouth. Sometimes there's eating is a really complicated process, actually. So not only sense, orally, but there are many steps that kids need to go through, to learn to eat. So I think of it like I think of it like physical development, right?
Like when your son was born, he couldn't sit up, he couldn't walk, he couldn't even roll over. And there's an order to that he had to learn to lift his head, he had to learn to roll over, then sit them crawled and stand for a while, you know, be really tipsy turvy. And then finally, he learned to walk. Can you do those out of order? No, not really. Not really. And here's the thing if a child skips one, because some kids do they skip crawling, they actually tend to have problems later in life, with all sorts of things. It's the same with eating, there's 32 steps. And if a kid misses some steps, or takes too long at a step, it can actually impact the way they know how to chew and swallow. So I'm going to I'm going to point a little finger at the food marketing industry and say that those baby food pouches are another potential cause of picky eaters.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 17:26
Hmm, expand on that. Tell me more. Tell me more. Yeah, so
Katie Kimball 17:29
one of the steps of eating is seeing your food. Yeah, and that doesn't happen with the pouches. So Strike one. Another step is that it's actually really important to move from purees. To crunchy like, like a cheerio type texture to mixed textures, right, with pureed with chunks in it like imagine like a soup or a stew. Those pouches are so easy, quick and convenient, aren't they? Do parents maybe leave kids with them for too long, or they're just having purees and the puree is not coming off a spoon, because it's really important to learn to move from front to back with your tongue. If you're sucking it in, it's hitting the back of your tongue already so so there are literally some children who are five years old, eight years old, 10 years old, who don't know how to chew properly, who don't know how to swallow properly, who don't have the tongue muscular structure to move things from the front and the back of your mouth. If you can't do that. Eating is really hard. So you're gonna look like a picky eater. You just don't know how to chew and swallow the How crazy is that?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 18:26
And that can lead to a host of other chronic diseases if your airway doesn't develop appropriately, because your jaw muscles not strong enough, because you're not chewing and I'm not a dentist that you know, should speak to that. But yeah, yikes. This is interesting. So are you a fan of baby led weaning? Are you a big fan of? Are you familiar with what that is? I know we're going kind of off topic, but it's still on topic.
Katie Kimball 18:46
Oh, no, it's totally on topic. Because well, because what we are told sways back and forth like a pendulum right? With Parents, like think about like spanking and our eggs healthy and as butter healthy, like the culture allows lots of things to swing. And so you know, we swung from like, you have to start with rice cereal. And you re you have to do this and formula and all this and we swung all the way to like, wait, you should do nothing. We should just let the babies eat our food. That's baby led weaning in a nutshell, right? I did it. I did it halfway with some of my kids. I did a full on with my last two. So there are a lot of really good things about baby led weaning, it exposes the kids to lots of textures, lots of tastes and smells for sure. much wider palate opportunity than kids who are having baby food. purees Sure, which always tastes exactly the same because they're processed. Right? Like it
Dr. Stephanie Gray 19:37
started in a plastic container. And there's all kinds of Yeah, but did I get my kids pouches? Or my kid I have one kid? Yes, I did. I did get
Katie Kimball 19:46
Oh, I totally did. And you know, a pouch here and there. Not a problem. It's when your diet is
Dr. Stephanie Gray 19:50
all douches then we have a problem. Yes, right.
Katie Kimball 19:52
Or, you know, and probably some kids can can handle it. Right. So it's just Are you are you that kid who has the propensity You know, to have a week or a week or soccer week or two, one of the problems with baby led weaning, and I literally didn't know this until just in this past year I was trained in the SOS approach to feeding is that it skips the puree stage. Right. And so that is one of those 32 steps of eating is that we really do need to have just just a month or two, it doesn't have to be long, just six to seven months or so. We kind of need those purees. And so when we say yeah, baby led weaning is said to be like, the way it used to be, right, this is how parents would affect their kids. You know, traditionally, however, parents actually would have chewed up their food. Oh, yeah, puree. I'm giving it to their kids. That is like what's rightfully traditional. So it's kind of mind blowing to me.
And and I'll say that my my one kid that probably did baby led weaning the most like really? Didn't have purees he has a tongue thrust swallow, which means when Yeah, when we went to the orthodontist, and they like, hold his lips back and squirt some water in and have him swallow blew out came his tongue. They were like, Did you see that? I said, Yes. Is that why he it's always a mess around his chair. Because he's eating and every time he swallows his tongue tries to come out of his mouth. So it's everywhere. Interesting, I can't say up that's for sure cause and effect, but it's one of the risks of not learning to move purees front to back with your tongue, it's bizarre.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 21:23
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Katie Kimball 22:41
To me, it's getting kids in the kitchen. It's getting those kids involved. And like I said, redefining a kid's meal. So we have a kid's meal once a week, and that's kids cooking night. That's the kid's meal, apostrophe, possession, they make it
Dr. Stephanie Gray 22:57
let's go. Let's actually go there for a second. I want to, I want to come back and spend a lot of time on incorporating, you know, incorporating including kids in the kitchen. But so why why do you think it almost every restaurant kids meals are just like, hamburgers and chicken fingers and fries and grilled cheese. I mean, every time we go out to eat we Eric and I look at each other. You don't even have to look at the kid's menu, you just know what's going to be on there. Right? So why do you think just out of pure convenience? I mean, how did where did that even come from? Have you done research on where this started? Or
Katie Kimball 23:25
like fascinating history of kids meals and restaurants? Actually, yeah, it started in the early 1900s. Because at that time, only the elite really went to, you know, high class restaurants. And they would always leave their kids at home because it was expensive. And at that time, kids were seen and not heard. So they certainly weren't going to get an expensive meal. So restaurant tours decided how can we get if we can get the kids to come in with the parents will make more money. Right? Yeah. And so they actually had doctors designed, nutritionally balanced what was thought to be nutrition at the time? Oh, yeah, kids meal. So they were they were marketed as a smaller portion, less seasoning, very bland, and wonderful nutrition. And they were sold at a lower price sure that the parents would bring their kids with them.
That's how they started. And then as with everything, convenience, food in the 40s, and 50s, you know, postwar, everything went to convenience. Kids are starting to eat TV dinners at home. And so the restaurants gave people what they wanted. They wanted easy, cheap, fast, quick, right? And so the parents were now trained that a kid's meal is going to be less expensive. So they had to remain less expensive. So what food is less expensive, it's highly processed foods, and it just sort of rolled from there. The Happy Meal was created in 1979. So that's pretty new, as well, even as far as fast food like putting the toys and like really marketing to kids. It's an experiment only been going on about 40 years.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 24:53
Very interesting. So So we I wanted to go to kids meals for a moment because obviously those are what we're saying are not appropriate. kid's meals. So we're going to talk about what are appropriate kids meals, which are foods that we're eating, but you're saying kind of the secret to getting them to eat those is to include them in the kitchen. So let's talk about tips for including kids in the kitchen and getting them to cook.
Katie Kimball 25:13
Yeah. And you know, the reason that that works so well is because although there are there lots of strategies you can use at the table, but especially if a child already is having a struggle, approaching food, you know, maybe they're a little fearful, maybe they've been pressured to eat. So they feel the dinner table is a power struggle. Approaching the dinner table puts the power struggle like sensors on in their brain, and they get stressed out already. So when we can bring our kids into the kitchen, the scenario is much more peaceful for them, okay, their stress brain is not turned on, because no one is going to ask them to eat. So if no one's going to pressure them to eat, they're going to feel more comfortable. And then, you know, when kids are involved in the beginning of the meal, where human beings so we get this open loop going right, and we'd like to close our open loops, so they're a little more likely to want to be part of that meal and finish it and at least taste it because they have some ownership there. But also like the brain science is really fun, being around food and being exposed to like the sights and smells and touches, and maybe they're licking their fingers. That's okay, getting little tastes. It's a it's almost an inoculation to some of those foods.
And so when they come to the dinner table, it's like, especially if they're over sensing, you know, if they're having trouble with food, because everything tastes like too spicy or too big, the flavors are too big for them. They've been inoculated a little bit by the process of being in the kitchen and smelling the food. Sadly, that's the opposite for moms. That's why when we go out to eat, everything that someone else has made tastes so much better and better. It's because you've already spent you know, when you're at home, you spent 45 minutes like smelling those smells. And so it's kind of dulled your ability to like really taste the good flavors. Good for kids. Not as fun for moms.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 26:53
Sure, sure. I want to go I want to go on the spicy tangent for a minute. So as William was, that's my son. I guess growing up and using his vocabulary more, right, he many times would, you know, choose something and say, Mom, that's spicy. That's kind of a word that you started using. And, you know, we don't know if he even really knows what spicy means. But that's we're trying to understand what he's trying to. We're trying to learn what he's trying to communicate to us when he says that spicy because he uses spicy for pretty much anything that has a lot of flavor. It doesn't have to be hot, spicy. But so I don't know, I don't know, if you have any tips for helping or do you think it's great that young mouths and palates be exposed to all different spices and seasonings? And is that is that a good thing?
Katie Kimball 27:39
Yeah, I mean, it definitely is, the more exposure a child has to anything, the more they're going to be able to approach that food with curiosity and not fear as they move on. And so and also, like more variety equals more quantity. So there are kids out there, Stephanie, who will literally eat like less than 20 foods, right down to the brand. Like they'll eat Annie's mac and cheese in this shape. But not craft for example, there are kids out there who eat less than 10. And less than five. Very, very scary.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 28:12
That is scary. Yeah, your average picky eater
Katie Kimball 28:15
probably still eats like 50 Different foods. But the more variety they can get in their diet, the more quantity they'll eat at a given meal, right, think about a buffet, we go through the day it doesn't, we don't pile our plate because we're hungrier than when we're in a little bit of everything, that you want a little bit of everything. So the more variety you can offer, the more variety your kids will accept, you know, the more they'll eat, and that of course, like gut bacteria wise, we know that we need variety of plant foods to feed our different gut bacteria and keep a healthy balance down there.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 28:44
So it sounds sounds easy. Oh, just you know, help or include your kids in the kitchen. And I you know, with a two year old, I've tried that. Making various things and you make quite the mess.
Katie Kimball 28:56
So no one's ever told me that that their kids are messy. You're literally the first No, I'm kidding. Every every month like there's so many there's so slow,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 29:04
especially with crack and eggs and stuff in baking. You know, it's like, Oh, holy smokes, we're gonna make luckily we have a dog that, you know, just cleans up the floor. But can you tell us some strategies for and I know you also speak to your programs as well here of how you teach parents to include their kids in the kitchen. So I guess, take that question wherever you want to go.
Katie Kimball 29:25
Sure. Yeah, well, so our program is a cooking class. And it's video based lessons for kids ages two and up. So your son's totally untrained. One thing that helps parents a lot is a skills over recipes approach. Right. So when you think about I'm going to incorporate my two and a half year old into let's see, we'll make pancakes on Saturday. Like, that's flour. That's eggs, that's a hot stove. making pancakes is probably about seven to 10 different skills. So it's no wonder you feel overwhelmed. Yeah, no, it's no wonder that's really hard. But you know, cook Would you hang out with your son, maybe at 10am on a Saturday, when he's well fed, he's happy, you're not rushed to be like, Oh my gosh, if these pancakes do not get done in the next five minutes, somebody's gonna have a meltdown, you know, and maybe you could put some flour gluten free, I'm guessing or maybe grain free. You know, put some flour or some some cheap salt by some 69 cent iodized salt, pour it into a nine by 13 baking dish.
And just make it some play, make it play to measure a flat teaspoon with a butter knife, right? Kids love repetition. Your little guy would do that over and over. Yep, you know, and with flour, especially like we say, let flour fall like snow. So you need one scoop, and one measuring cup and have him let it fall like snow and then use that butter knife to snow plow it flat. He will learn over time to measure really, really well. And then he's got that one skill. So maybe he helps with the measuring for the pancakes. Or really when you're, you know, and I also Okay, so step one is skills over recipes. It's just think just break things down into little skills. And so that's what we do in our classes is each lesson is a skill. Yes, we make a recipe. But the beautiful thing is you can substitute any recipe that uses the same skill. So that means it's allergy friendly. It's friendly for different diets. It's friendly for picky eaters, who will never eat you know what I happen to be making the video. So it's really super flexible because we're focused on the skills. So not only does that make our classes flexible, but it helps parents brains, right, like I had a mom told me once, Katie, I've always thought like I should get my boys in the kitchen. Her kids were probably first in third grade at the time.
And she said it just seems so daunting. Like teach my kids to cook, go okay, I'll start that next week. But when I told her like, could you just teach them to measure a teaspoon of salt? She's like, Yeah, I can do that. That's how you teach your kids to cook. You start by measuring a teaspoon of salt. That's it. So step one skills of recipes. Step two is I would say don't work with your kids who don't already have cooking skills right before dinner. Because when's like the most stressful rush time of the day? making dinner? Right? And so is that when you want your messiest, slowest, sous chef, no, no. So So you teach those skills and then so watch your here's the here's what will happen with your two and a half year old is he learns how to measure a flat teaspoon. And that might that might be like a play activity for a couple of different Saturdays, right? And then he says, Mama, can I help? I maybe you're making soup and you say, yes, my soup needs basil, salt and oregano. Right? So you give him one at a time at the table out of your way. You don't need that. So messy child in your kitchen. Stephanie, right, get him to the table. That's better for him anyway, because he can be on his knees and you can see what he's doing there.
And you're giving the salt and give him a little bowl and you give him a teaspoon. That's when you have one teaspoon of salt ready, you bring it back to mom, right? If he takes five minutes, he takes five minutes, whatever. You can double check his works repetitiously. And then all of those seasonings, go into your soup. He hasn't slowed you down. He's practiced a skill that you've already trained him in. And then at dinner, you get to build his confidence, which is what makes kids want to come back into the kitchen and you'll say I soup is so delicious. To know what makes the soup so delicious. The salt, the basil and the oregano who measured that for my students, right? Your son feels like the most amazing chef in the world. And he's gonna want that's that's another struggle for parents is like my kids aren't interested. Right? They don't want to cook. So you have to give them that good feeling of nourishing another body right of getting the compliments.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 33:35
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Seriously, that means most of the visual you buy over the counter is old, oxidized, rancid and not helpful. That fish oil purchased over the counter could be three years old already before you ingest it. Yuck. With over 10,000 published studies in the last three decades, EPA and DHA from fish oil are among the most researched natural ingredients available and have a long history of safety and efficacy. Check out more product information on our website, your longevity blueprint.com and use code omega threes for 10% off. Now let's get back to the show. So not only by him being included in the kitchen, is he and Ines cooking healthy meals. Is that adding to you know his reduction in chronic disease. But you're saying it's going to build confidence. What other benefits can we see from including kids in the kitchen? What other benefits other than obviously better nutrition? Like that's obvious, but like what else?
Katie Kimball 36:11
Yeah, and you know, I didn't see these coming. I personally, I'm very practical. So when I taught my kids to cook, I was a place of desperation, I needed some help in the kitchen and a place of like, if they're going to eat healthy when they're 18. I guess I need to teach them how to do this. And not just what to eat, right. But as I've watched them it's been I spent a good six or seven years now since our sort of initial like all in training. And so I've got to watch them grow with their skills in the kitchen, Anna and I've got to see gotten to see like 20,000 member families build these skills in their kids. And what we see bubbling to the surface that surprised me and delights me is connection, confidence and creativity. So that's confidence. Yeah, that confidence of being able to do an adult skill like an authentic task. It's not just kitchen confidence. We see it in other areas. One of my favorite stories as a group of high school kids at full time after school programs in Maine, for high schoolers started using our classes.
And on day one, all these children, children t all these teenagers were super afraid of sharp knives. None of them had ever touched a sharp knife. They were terrified. So the teacher had like some auto climbing to do. At the end of the program. They made like a three course meal for their school board and their principal on their, their admin staff. And the story just sounds amazing. There's like kids coming in from wrestling and going out to basketball games, and they're taken over and the knives, you know, they're all using sharp knives they made like a homemade apple crisp. A salad with homemade dressing. I forget what the app was. And then just like pasta, and sauce, so not exactly super gourmet, but going from being terrified of knives. Yeah. to, like, how does that feel? Like I guarantee that those kids are more confident in all areas of life? Absolutely. They've literally served their school board dinner, right? Yes,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 37:58
yes. That's so so amazing. So cool. So you mentioned I when I said Williams, two and a half who will probably be three by the time this episode launches. But by that that's beautiful. You're saying, Oh, that's a great, perfect timing? Well, what does research tell us about like when we can have the greatest impact on on kids eating habits? Like when should we start including them in the kitchen also.
Katie Kimball 38:17
So that okay, I'm going to talk about two different bits of research. So the first one's for you, and anyone who has kids under five? Because, you know, like, Is William always asking to help right now? A little bit in the kitchen. And with it, he is a little bit dusty. I
Dr. Stephanie Gray 38:31
mean, they kind of always not always.
Katie Kimball 38:35
But he's at least more intrinsically motivated, we can kind of see that like, under five kids are like, Oh, mama, you're dusting, can I invest? Or can I do the laundry? You know, they'll actually ask? Yeah, so some sociologists were studying kids and chores in other countries. And these, you know, in less developed countries in America, and these eight year olds would say, oh, like I make dinner, I do the laundry, I do the dishes, and the sort of the American sociologist kind of looked at each other like this. This is not our experience in our country, what is going on. And what they determined was that the kids had been given responsibilities very early.
And so there was what I call an unbroken line of motivation. Because they're intrinsically motivated when they're very young. And if they already are able to be, you know, taking family responsibilities, it just sort of grows and continues. Whereas in America, the typical story is, no, I don't need your help. No, you go play. That's okay, Mom, we'll get it done faster, right. We tell them to leave the kitchen, literally training their neural pathways. I do not belong in the kitchen. Right? And so when they're eight and we say, Hey, you want to help me make some pancakes?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 39:43
They're like, Nah, no, thanks.
Katie Kimball 39:46
Right? Because they've been trained, I ended up lying in the kitchen. And so if you have a child five and under, wonderful, awesome, now is the time to get them started and give them those positive experiences unbroken line of motivation. So the other bit of research What we find is some researchers looking at the IKEA effect. And the IKEA effect is that we tend to feel more affinity for something that we've had a hand in creating right? IKEA furniture, you got to put it together. And what the researchers wondered is does this apply to food? So they took two sets of families, and they had one set of families make some food dishes together, and the other families did crafts together. And then they all came and ate the food.
And what the researchers determined was that the families who made the meals were more likely to eat, particularly the healthy foods, the vegetables, and more likely to like them. But only the kids Hmm, not the adults. So involvement is very powerful. If you are a child, is what that determine. And there's all sorts of other research that shows like kids who learned to cook like vegetables, more kids who learned to cook are more confident as adults. I mean, all kinds of like great, great research that says Get your kids in the kitchen. What age are they? That's when you start
Dr. Stephanie Gray 40:58
now right now, today now? Yes, yes. So good. Okay, so not to put a damper on this. But what if you're a parent, and you really don't know how to cook? So what if you're that parent? Who says yes, I believe I'm in except I don't know how to cook. So what are some steps they can take?
Katie Kimball 41:14
is super common. I mean, I'm here to help. That's, that's the easy answer, right, is that as a teacher, I wrote down all these skills that I thought kids would need, and I got to about 30. And then I organized them in a really logical fashion, right? What do you need to know first? And then how would you build on that skill? And what's developmentally appropriate and impossible for kids of different ages? So I've done all the thinking for you, in our kids cook real food classes, right? So I have a lot of moms who will say, Katie, I actually am learning with my kids. Is that like, is that okay? Like, yeah, there are good excuse for your cooking classes. So that's I, I just think it's so good for parents to be humble. Kids need to see that we are learning to kids need to see that we can make mistakes, and to learn together is possibly the most beautiful thing. Right? The best gift we can give our kids like, I don't I don't know how to do this, but I think it's important. So let's, let's figure it out together. Right?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 42:09
I like that. I was because I was Nick's gonna ask you like, how do we help kids, especially older kids? So maybe we kind of talked about the under five for kids who are above five? And I'm Austin. I'm more thinking of teenagers here. How do we help them take ownership of their health and nutrition?
Katie Kimball 42:25
Yeah, man, the million dollar question.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 42:28
So to put this in context, example, set an example either, but
Katie Kimball 42:32
oh, yeah, 100%. My kids currently are 1613 10 and seven. So I'm, I'm in the thick of basically figuring out if what I've done the last 16 years is going to stick. Like I think I made pretty decent parenting choices. But we're discovering this as we go. I will say that my 16 year old nearly every day, and he packs his own lunch, the top three pack their own lunch, we're still the parents are still slogging through packing one, one last lunch for another year or so till he takes over. My 16 year old puts a salad in his lunch almost every day. He has raw vegetables almost every day. And it just
Dr. Stephanie Gray 43:08
you? Yep. Yeah. It's all from
Katie Kimball 43:11
scratch. So a big part of it is not what we say. And it's not the discipline strategies we choose. But it really is just what is normal? What is a habit? Right? For my kids normal. A normal dinner has a salad, it has raw veggies. Hopefully it has a dip of someone's gotten around to making one. You know, a normal taco night is half grass fed beef and half lentils. Because that's how we roll. And my kids actually when they have like, all beef tacos are like, Oh, this tastes kind of weird. Whereas I'm sure like a quote, normal American kid would come to my house and be like, what are the funny things in the tacos? Because they're sprouted lentils too. So they, they have a certain weird look to them. But I think creatively, we get to write the first couple chapters in our kids book of normal. And then we co write the next few chapters.
So your job as a parent is to decide like, what do I want my kids to come back to? Because they're going to stray right? They're going to try their own thing. They're going to be young adults are probably going to, you know, some of them are probably going to turn their backs on your eating philosophy, maybe your religion, philosophy, right, all sorts of things. But when they're ready to come back home, to their roots, but do we want those roots to look like so I see it as a gradual release of responsibility? Well, let's use deserts as an example because everybody wonders that right? How do we get kids to say no to sugar?
Dr. Stephanie Gray 44:35
Well, you here's where we need to talk about your holiday party. Because before we started recording today, we started a little late because you were hosting or is hosting the right word. I don't know one of your child's Christmas. Yeah. A holiday parties that was sugar free. So we need to go there for a minute. So yes, take it away.
Katie Kimball 44:52
Yes. Okay. So that story coming or our philosophy on like sugar is yeah, they're under five like We're in charge, right? I try to not let my kids know sugar exists as long as I can. And then like I'm in charge of quantity when it happens. But once they're in grade school, like they are going to be offered stuff outside your house. And we help them actually make the right choice when we aren't standing there. And so we talk about explicitly how sugar is probably not going to kill us. Because I think if we fully restrict, it causes the rubberband effect to be fully restrict, we know that they will just fly we pull them back so hard with that rubberband, and they just fly and go crazy to all the sugar as soon as they can. So we do allow some sugar, but we have to teach them how to make those moderate choices. Right? And so my kids know, in elementary school, they're allowed one dessert a day. And if that's a treat at school, fine if that's when they get home, my my seven year old had ice cream for snack right after school yesterday. And I said, okay, that has gotten protein.
If he had chosen like Halloween candy features on Halloween candy, I'd say you also need something satiating, and he knows that word. So he can choose one dessert anytime he wants. And it's amazing. He'll come home from school and say I had a cookie for a birthday treat. But we also were given, you know, two candies at lunchtime because we were really good. So I brought those home. So I'm like, okay, so far, so far. Good job. Yeah, he's not being underhanded, you know. And sometimes sometimes I'll let them handle it. Maybe you should have one of those because you were honest. Because the most important thing is honesty, right? Because if we set up a system, and they can lie and get out of it now, we don't have ownership of food, and we don't have a trusting relationship. So that's not good. I did I plant the first grade Christmas party today. And there was absolutely no cookies, no candy, no cake, no sugary drinks, there was no processed or unprocessed sugar in the whole plan. And I wish I had just brought like the stuff here because what we did food art. And we made Christmas trees out of pea pods, or mandarin orange slices.
And we use pomegranate seeds and dried Korean breezes, the ornaments. Very cool. I mean star fruit or pineapple as the star is. And let me tell you, I just keep recycling the same party because I'm efficient. Right? So I've done a lot. Yeah, I've done this with four different sets of kids. And I've never had so many kids not eat anything. Which is, I think, to me is saying, Yep, the picky eating epidemic is getting bigger. We have a problem, right? And so kids would come in and go. I don't like these, like anything on this table. And I'd say you don't have to eat it. We're making art. I kid you not? Definitely they would ask over and over do I have to eat it? They don't they didn't trust me that they didn't have to eat it. And then someone say, but can I eat it? I say oh yeah, you can't eat it. You made it. I'd love you to try something new. I mean, I was encouraging them to smell I just I wanted that exposure.
Because the more exposure those kids get me the next time they see a pine sap pot or whatever you had. Right, right right now I mean, that's just a drop in the bucket. Because I'm I'm a one time you know, I'm a one time encounter for them. But I'm going to share pictures of them on our like private first grade Facebook group. Yeah, say hey, parents, this is here's how exposure works. Like lots of your kids tried starfruit lots of them. Try to pomegranate seed. Sure. So maybe, you know, maybe you could buy some of these things over holiday break and see what happens. So yeah, I'm like, I'm totally like the crazy no sugar party planning mom.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 48:18
Sounds like it went well, though. That awesome, great ideas. So this has all been very enlightening. I'm sure I'll very convicting also. But it's just so true. I love what you said that we get to write that first chapter. You know, for our kids. And we I mean, the power, it's in our control. So I love that. So tell us where listeners can get more information about kind of just all of this specifically you and your courses tell us where listeners can find you.
Katie Kimball 48:45
Absolutely. We're at kids cook real food.com. And that's where we host like I said, video filmed classes that you can use whether you know how to cook or not. ages two to teenager, we're giving away a little something. Do you have the link for our free? Yes,
Dr. Stephanie Gray 49:00
I do. So I will post the link in the show notes. But the link should be kids cook real food.com forward slash longevity blueprint.
Katie Kimball 49:11
Yeah. So at that link, you'll find our members favorite class every time we asked members, it's the same answer at a 32 videos, they always say the knife skills and safety technique class and and that makes sense. Because if we're going to eat healthy, right, we've got to unlock the produce section. And that's knowing how to cut things up. Yeah, so I choose to teach the exact same techniques to our two year olds as our 12 year olds with chef's knives, because I want I want William right and one or two or three year old to treat a butter knife with respect to treat it as if it's sharp and to learn that habit of how to hold the knife how to hold the food.
So we have seven fun phrases for different ways to hold the knife different ways to hold the food and keep your hands safe. And so we have members I'm thinking of thinking of one mom, Amy, who first she said if I hadn't used your classes As my kids would never have been in the kitchen until they were at least 15, because they're too slow, or too messy, and I hated the thought. Right? But like usually thought, Okay, this is actually important. Like, I'm gonna give it a go. She has five kids. So they all learned all the skills and her four year old boy actually ended up being her favorite sous chef. And because he loved it so much and stayed focused, he was using a paring knife at age for a sharp knife.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 50:24
Katie Kimball 50:25
I know, but because Amy had been able to see him respect that butter knife a year and use the correct techniques. She was like, okay, he's ready. I'm ready. Let's do it.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 50:36
So good. So encouraging. This is so much fun. Well, I end every episode with a top longevity tip. So it's okay. If you've already mentioned, you know, through this discussion what that would be what would be your top longevity pick if you had to narrow it down to one.
Katie Kimball 50:50
Oh, my goodness. Well, I mean, I'm only 41. So anything I say is untested. We'll see I hope I hope to live to 95. Like both my grandmother's, I would say eat that variety of plant foods. Yeah, if I had to pick one because if we're thinking about, you know, habits and taste buds and keeping that gut bacteria happy and healthy. It's variety.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 51:11
Love it. Love it. Love it. Well, thank you so much. Is there anything else you want to share today before we wrap up the episode?
Katie Kimball 51:17
I mean, I think just just try, right? Because because I think we you can listen to an interview like this and be like I do. Yes, I do. I teach my kids to cook and then you like walk into your real life. Table. The kids say you gross or they're like No mom, I don't I don't want to cook or No dad. I don't want to come in the kitchen. And we tend to lose heart. Right? But just remember you have 18 years with the kids under your roof to get this right. You know, and it doesn't have to happen all tomorrow. You don't have to do it perfectly. That just taking some steps and making an attempt is like huge and will will give your kids many, many gifts.
Dr. Stephanie Gray 51:51
Awesome, beautiful. Well thank you so much for coming on the show today and sharing your passion clearly for teaching kids to cook for their health and the health of the entire family and just encouraging us like you said to just start just try thank you so much. Thank you is it that excitement just contagious, she makes me want to be a better mother and teach William to cook more. I love her concept of kitchen stewardship and how she reminded me that every little bite counts for kiddos. I agree we need to stop letting kids make nutrition choices we the parents get right chapter one in their book of what ideal nutrition is which can significantly affect their long term health and longevity. I look forward to downloading her free knife skills class at kids cook real food.com forward slash longevity blueprint.
To connect with her further, check out the show notes. And as always share this episode with another parent who could benefit Be sure to check out my book your longevity blueprint. And if you aren't much of a reader, you're in luck. You can now take my course online where I walk you through each chapter in the book. Plus for a limited time the course is 50% off, check this offer out at your longevity blueprint.com and click the Course tab. One of the biggest things you can do to support the show and help us reach more listeners is to subscribe to the show. Leave us a rating and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. I do read all the reviews and would truly love to hear your suggestions for show topics guests and how you're applying what you learn on the show to create your own longevity blueprint. The podcast is produced by the team at counterweight creative as always thank you so much for listening and remember, wellness is waiting.
The information provided in this podcast is educational. No information provided should be considered to be or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your personal medical authority.
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