Elle Macpherson: 'How I stopped my teenage son eating junk'
Who would have guessed that Elle Macpherson faces the same struggles as most parents when it comes to ensuring her children eat healthily?
Looking at the family snaps on her Instagram account of her surfing and skiing with her two sons, you get the impression that she lives a wholesome, active life without a care in the world.
ELLE’S SECRET TO HEALTHY KIDS | “I found my son Cy, choosing empty carbs at school and coming home starving, he was turning into what I thought was a picky eater. With that gap between after school and dinner he was craving sugary snacks. I realised he wasn’t getting clean protein during the day…”- @ellemacphersonofficial 🍫 Our SUPER KIDS Chocolate Nourishing Protein… 🏄🏼 contains a healthy dose of fruit and veggies (broccoli, apple, pumpkin and beetroot) 🏄♀️ organic plant protein to prevent blood sugar fluctuations and sugar cravings 🏄🏼 probiotics for healthy gut function. Perfect as an afternoon snack - one scoop with milk of choice 👌🏽 Shipping globally from WelleCo.com 🌏 #superkids #superelixir #superelixirkids #healthysnack #kidsprotein #wellness #organic #plantbased #australia #coolkids #thekidsarealright #teenlife #solution #ellemacpherson #madeinaustralia Read more from Elle on our Welle Journal at welleco.com 💻
While the former supermodel, who was famously nicknamed ‘The Body’ by Time magazine in 1989, is known to be a follower of an alkaline-based diet, making sure her children eat well is still a battleground.
"When we moved to America two years ago, Cy, who is now 14, started eating lunch from the school canteen, instead of the home-packed lunch he used to have in the UK," Elle explains.
"He would choose empty carbs at school and come home starving. To fill the gap between school and dinner, he craved sugary snacks."
Concern prompted her to create The Super Elixir Kids Nourishing Protein Powder. "It’s a clean, plant-based, organic, hormone-free protein for growing bodies," Elle says. "Its wholefood ingredients are fortified with B vitamins, probiotics and zinc, with no wheat, dairy, soy or nuts."
Like any other supplement powder, it can be mixed with water or added to a smoothie. This was a natural progression, as Elle was one of the first to tap into the clean-eating trend three years ago. Joining forces with nutritional therapist Dr Simone Laubscher, she launched WelleCo Super Elixir Supergreen Powder for adults in 2014.
The brand was among the first to promote the importance of natural rather than synthetic ingredients, and the powder didn’t have the bitter taste that is often associated with super greens. With the knowledge that most kids tend to be fussy eaters, Elle enlisted Cy’s help to make sure the children’s version would be palatable for tweens and teens alike.
"Cy came on board from the start and was part of our official tasting committee, along with Ava and Lulu, my co-founder Andrea Bux’s daughters,’ says Elle. ‘They made us develop several formulas until we got the taste right."
The Peruvian Cacao flavour was the favourite, and a touch of air-dried coconut sugar was added to give it some sweetness. Even with the promise that it tastes like chocolate, most kids would be likely o scrunch up their nose at any form of murky-looking liquid.
However, according to Elle, Cy has come up with his own recipes. "In the morning he combines rice milk, ice and a big scoop of The Super Elixir Kids protein powder. After school or on a hot day, for a “nice-cream” treat, he throws two frozen bananas, a dash of rice milk and a scoop of protein into the blender and blitzes.’
While Cy might be a fan, the powder received mixed reviews in the States, and many experts are sceptical of the need for supplementing children’s protein intake. "Most children consume sufficient protein to facilitate growth, development and prevent deficiency," says dietitian and British Dietetic Association spokesperson Aisling Pigott.
We live in a world where food has lost its value and meaning. We need to be promoting the benefits of enjoying and appreciating real food to the next generation, not powdered, processed food – even if it is plant protein." Elle, however, remains unfazed. "Kids shouldn’t need a supplement at all, but often they don’t have a well-rounded diet, no matter how hard we try to encourage them."
She refers to her powder as a healthy snack rather than a supplement. "One that sustains kids in between meals, so they won’t reach for sugar all the time." In recent years, sugar has been named the culprit for increasing rates of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. And, in light warnings earlier this year that children consume half their recommended daily sugar allowance before they even get to school in the morning, there may be something to be said for Elle’s approach.
Aside from supplements, Elle encourages her kids – Cy, his older brother Flynn, 19, and her three stepchildren from her marriage to businessman Jeffrey Soffer – to follow a healthy lifestyle. "As a family, we love sports, good food and a fun-loving, considerate life. And laughter is super-important," says Elle. "‘I encourage my kids to drink lots of water throughout the day, and they recognise that many common ailments come from dehydration – including moodiness, headaches and tiredness.
"We all aim for at least eight hours of sleep," she adds, "although Flynn sets his own pace – sometimes his eight hours are in the middle of the day!’ Even a family night in is healthy, says Elle. "When we all get together, we love home-made, gluten-free pizza, sushi or some sort of Mexican feast. There’s definitely no guilt in our pleasure."