Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's never too Early ...or Too Late to Start a Healthy Habit

Isn’t it easy to go to the drive-thru for fast food or nuke a pizza when the kids are hungry and time is scarce? When my kids were young-teens and pre-teens- it seemed like we were always running, well driving,from soccer practice to piano lessons to Staples for homework supplies to friend’s houses… And since I have three kids you need to multiply that list by three. Drive- thrus at Dunkin Donuts and McDonald's, Stouffer’s, Lean Cuisine, frozen pizzas and the like made my life easier. In the short term.

Flash forward a few years to their teens and tweens; my youngest dealt with significant gastrointestinal problems- functional dyspepsia- that caused him to puke 3 or 4 times a week before school, IBS, undiagnosed ADD, and he was overweight by about thirty pounds. My daughter had such joint problems that she was forced to abandon her varsity field hockey and lacrosse success of three years.  For some reason my middle son fared better. Looking back I think he had a tendency to eat fewer carbs and more fruit.

Today the picture of my kid’s (now in their twenties) health looks something like this; my daughter is overweight and has significant, chronic and incurable health issues not least of which is Lupus. My middle son is healthy and active though he suffers from regular back pain. My youngest is an absolute specimen of health and fitness. His functional dyspepsia has resolved as has his IBS and he no longer takes an ADD medication.

How and why can I have such a diverse picture of health within my own family? I’m sure there are many contributing variables and factors that I can’t explain but I can tell you this; I wish I had known then what I know now about nutrition- its importance and its ability to prevent illness. A few years ago we started taking Juice Plus+. With that new regimen came information and education.  And little changes. Then more changes.  And there is great power and healing that comes from that. My daughter will not embrace nutrition as a healer. It is infinitely frustrating and disheartening because I know she has the power to, maybe not cure, but certainly improve her health immensely…to improve the way she feels on a day to day basis. Both of my boys take Juice Plus+ -regularly. My middle son is good about watching what and how he eats and my youngest is a health, fitness and nutrition guru following a strict self-designed and tweaked clean eating program.

For me drawing conclusions is easy; the reasons for the widely diverse results obvious. And I know that fast and processed food have made my life- and sadly my daughter’s- incredibly more difficult. For the long haul. So while I wait for my daughter to see the ‘nutritious’ light, I hope that I can help someone else start seeing at least a glimmer.

For starters, here are some tips to nurture healthy habits in your kids. It’s never too early to start…or too late.
 Children's Health Study-4 years free through college age when an adult buys

If you want to know more about Juice Plus and how easily it can start to change your health picture, please, please, please contact me.

Never do anything Mundane...

For more than eight years I tended to a very elderly woman named Rose. I was less a caregiver in the traditional sense of the word than a step-and-fetch-it sort of do-whatever-she-wants kind of helper. What I learned from her is that we should never, ever do anything mundane ... if we can get someone else to do it for us. Apparently, I passed this lesson on to my kids. Rose was a fabulous (98 at her passing in July) southern gal but the days spent with her were emotionally exhausting and physically draining. I often arrived home at the end of a long day and the dreaded "What's for dinner?" question greeted my arrival. No 'hello.' No 'Hi mom.' It made me nuts. I was tired, yes, but mostly unprepared. Life is busy. My husband worked out of town all week. I really wished someone else would take the lead once in awhile. After all, when I started working for Rose my oldest was 19 and capable as was my 16 year old and my 12 year old for that matter. But being a working mom, knowing they had busy and, yes, stressful schedules themselves opened wide the vat of guilt. And I swam in it. So I cooked. Or more aptly, provided something to eat.  
As you may have guessed by now, things needed to change in the meal department. I started with some small and simple changes. I found that being organized and prepared made a significant positive impact in areas I never even thought about changing. An impact on the quality of our meals. An impact on my mood. An impact on our budget.  An impact on our health trajectory

Here are some of the steps I took:
1) I started planning meals for the week during the weekend and shopping for them, too.
2) I made meals to yield leftovers. They were either reinvented or served a second time later in the week.
3) Bought a crock pot. Fell in love with it. Use it all the time.
4) Started making grab and go staples; nutritious snacks that travel well. 
5) Involved the kids in meal planning giving them some ownership.

I became a more mindful meal planner and shopper. I even started taking meals on the road in a hot/cold food carrier to nix drive-thru visits between all the after school shuttling. None of it was really intentional, it just sort of morphed into something that worked for us. On winter weekends I started sitting with a stack of cookbooks to peruse recipes. Sometimes the kids would take an interest and help generate ideas for the week. Sometimes they would join me in the kitchen. Chat. Chop. The "what's for dinner?" question that had been the bane of my existence became if not exactly a relished greeting at least not something intolerable, unanswerable and anger-provoking. We spent less money on food, bought fewer processed, packaged and unhealthy groceries. Reduced my stress level- and we all know what they say about a happy mom. It may be time to amend the lesson from Rose- Never, ever do anything mundane...if you can make it memorable instead.  

What helps you stay on track with healthy eating without losing your mind? I'd love to hear and so would other readers. Thanks for sharing.

If you want to know more about the unpleasant truths of what is being used to cook our 'food' or served as 'food,' check this out. (Hint: Silly Putty) If you want to know how to get more of the good stuff (i.e. whole raw plant based food) check this out.