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A Healthy Family Should Not Be A Luxury

March 1, 2013

Most of us parents, or at least Moms, are aware of Pinterest. It is a smorgasbord of Life Ideas, and you can pin your favorite ideas and store them on boards for others to see. It is like tearing pages out of your favorite magazine and putting them in a folder. Only you are more likely to actually revisit your pins than you are your tear outs. (Or is that just me?)

The problem that comes out of Pinterest is that there is so much. You sit there, perusing your friends’ pins, and you are faced with decorating ideas, crafting projects, cool fashion, fun kid ideas, workouts, decadent recipes, healthy meals, and more. You cannot possibly do it all. And so it seems that where you spend most of your time is dependent on your natural gifts. We all have that friend (I may be yours!) that spends more time posting healthy food and fitness pins than most, and if that is not your natural interest, you may feel “Oh, that’s not my thing.”

So I am going to challenge you all today with a question: Why isn’t healthy eating and fitness for your family “your thing?”

I am going to guess that the main reason is time. There are only so many hours in the day, and you are saying to yourself “If I have any spare time between getting the kids out the door, working, cleaning, running the house, and getting the kids to their activities, I am going to spend it (insert favorite Pinterest board topic here)!”

Here is where I am going to ruffle some feathers: What are you saying about your children’s health if learning crafting projects takes priority over learning how to provide them with healthy food? If multiple after-school activities require drive thru dinners, are you choosing the long term benefits of social or athletic programs versus the long term health affects of never learning how to eat properly?

Children will carry the habits they learn as kids into adulthood. We know that. That is why so many of us today are on a diet of some kind – we ourselves may have never learned how to eat properly, and we spend our adult lives trying to lose weight and get healthy. All the while we are not teaching our children to do the same.

Health should not be a luxury. This should not be a “if I had more time” project. We are talking life and death. I wish I was being dramatic, but the statistics show that I am not. The World Health Organization said in May 2012 that “2.8 million people (worldwide are) dying each year as a result of being overweight or obese.” The obesity rate for adults has doubled since 1980; the rate for children has tripled.

What those figures do not tell you is the number of people dealing with severe health issues that stem from a poor diet. If you eat an unhealthy diet, but are not overweight, you are not necessarily in the clear. A poor diet results in inflammation, and chronic inflammation is associated with serious disease. In March of 2012, Dr. Dwight Lundell, a heart surgeon of 25 years, publicly stated that heart disease is caused by inflammation, not cholesterol. (And he has suffered public and professionally for it.) Among many eye-opening things, he states that the low fat and low calorie diets that heart patients have been prescribed have actually increased our obesity and diabetes rates. Dr. Andrew Weil, a long-revered doctor who balances western and holistic medicine, advocates an anti-inflammatory diet, as well. (This topic is a post unto itself.)

The focus is not on counting calories. It is not on low fat. The focus is on feeding your family high quality food that heals our bodies inside and out. The focus is on teaching our children the value of eating this way now, when they are young, so that they are not struggling in the same way that so many of us adults are struggling now. We all agree that we want the best for our children. We want to give our children something better than we had ourselves.

I am not saying that you should not enroll your children in camps and activities. I am not saying to ignore a home in disrepair so you can make tomato sauce from scratch. Life and happiness is about finding a Balance on that pendulum that swings from one extreme to another.

What I am asking is that you move the health of your family and your children up on your priority list. Make slow changes. When you are looking at your crazy, busy week, and you realize that something has to give, consider eliminating a social or leisure activity  rather than healthy meals with the family. If you are at a complete loss as to what “healthy” means, start educating yourself. If you have time for an hour of The Walking Dead (or Downton Abbey, or Game of Thrones, or whatever else the cool kids are watching these days), then you have time to research anti-inflammation recipes or eating healthy with kids.

If this sounds too overwhelming and you are in need of inspiration, then let me tell you about a friend, a mother of three teenagers. Years ago, she realized that food additives and colors, and certain food groups, affected her children’s behavior. She also suffered from debilitating rheumatoid arthritis. (She is not old!) She went to see a Naturopath that put her and her family on a new course. Her pendulum has swung back and forth between the extremes, but today she controls her children’s behavioral issues and has eliminated her arthritis by eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet. She and her husband work full time. She spends Sunday prepping the week’s meals – chopping, bagging, freezing for the week, so that each night or each morning she can pull out the next dinner and defrost, or put it in the crockpot. She has prepped food ready to go for her lunch or for family gatherings. This situation has required taking the time to learn what eating healthy means these days. She has had to incorporate this prep time and menu planning into her routine. But she has no complaints, and happily shares her story with groups in the St. Charles area, educating others on changing their diets for the better. (Part of her presentation includes a Happy Meal burger and fries that she bought over five years ago. While the food is hard as a rock, it is still in tact. It is not rotten. Yuck.)

We live in a fast food, instant gratification society, where we are expected to go-go-go and stuff whatever is convenient in our mouths. It will take a lot of effort for the entire country to make this necessary mental shift. But it can start with you, and Us as a small community. Your children will thank you some day.

OK, so I have possibly made some people angry today. I hope not. I share this only in complete and total love. There is no shame or accusation. I only recently made this mental shift, and it was only after a doctor shook her finger in my face and said I could not fix my skin issues with diet changes. (She was wrong, by the way.) I was just struck yesterday how we all look at Pinterest and most of it from a “If I only had time” point of view. Please make the time for your children’s and family’s health. Do not be afraid to venture into the paleo section of Pinterest. Search “anti-inflammatory” and see what you get. I have a “Clean Eating” board with lots of ideas. (And I am starting to pin my own posts from this blog. Duh.) Search the “Fit Diet” section for some recipe ideas. Post or message me questions. There are others out there, too. And we can do it together. 

P.S.S. Okie doke, so here’s a follow up to this post. I got lots of feedback on what I wrote above, mostly positive, but some not-so-positive. I really apologize if I totally missed the mark on my tone of the message, it was not meant to be lecturing. Sorry. HUGS!

Amy first name only signature

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2013 4:20 pm

    Thanks to my sis for a pat on the back for this post. She also mentioned that Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” touches on similar things. Check it out here: http://michaelpollan.com/books/in-defense-of-food/

    Looks like something to add to my library list!

  2. melissa permalink
    March 1, 2013 7:36 pm

    I do not usually leave comments, but I love this post. Eating healthy is time consuming and expensive, but so worth it. When armed with information, how can anyone continue to stuff their children full of genetically modified food,preservatives, msg, corn syrup, aspartame, and all other forms of chemical assault. Wake up people, they are killing you! I have three young kids, and I do spend a great deal of time shopping,prepping, and making nearly everything from scratch. I make my own bread, soak my beans, make hummus and such. We eat a plant based diet ( no meat, hormones pesticides or antibiotics or steroids thanks) and we all feel great. We don’t really do a ton of crafts, but they know what real food is and even try to educate others. What could be more important? I enjoy your posts Amy, and just keep them coming because people are waking up to the food tearing that were under.

    • March 5, 2013 2:04 pm

      Thanks, Melissa, for sharing your story! It is definitely difficult to make those changes, when so much around us says that it is silly or not worthwhile.

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  1. Eating Healthy with the Kids: Where to Start | FitMommas

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