It’s funny to see my 7-year-old trying to decide should she have sorbet or ice cream or a cookie.
So I ask her, “Which one should you have?”
She thinks for a moment. “Well, I should have an apple.”
“That’s a good decision,” I say.
And then she adds, “But can I have a slice of an apple instead and then a cookie with it?”
I don’t talk to my daughter about calories… instead I talk to her about what her body wants and needs. I talk to her about how our body comes alive when you eat a bunch of live foods like veggies, fruits and nuts prepared in a certain way…Organic is always best if it’s an option. I feel mothers who are aware of how important our food is, the quality of our food especially, we risk going overboard regarding food relationships with our children. By no means do I want my daughter to be afraid of fats, sweets or any other food, but at the same time, I want her to have limited amounts for health’s sake. What can result is an fear for food or an opposite affect of over indulgence of the food the child is told to stay away from. Such a balancing act for our little ones who are not mature enough to understand the difference of nutrient dense food that pack long lasting energy vs. empty calories marketed with emotional value for purely capitalistic gain and not the health of their bodies, designed for them to crave more and more. In my opinion, food should not be animated or have an economic/status value attached to it’s advertising. It crosses the boundary of seeing food for what It really is: energy to sustain us.
For instance, with the candy bar, the first sensation is really sweet and full of crunch. But very soon after that, your energy crashes, and you can’t get yourself up. With something as simple as a carrot, you’ve got a little bit of sweet and a wonderful crunch, but after you eat it, your body is satisfied and happy and holds the energy it gives you. But to a kid who sees animated rabbit characters offering amusement park family sweepstakes under every lid, which one would you choose at 7 year old, especially if “everyone” at school is talking about the big prize? She may bring in the wholesome organic yogurt with a laughing cow on the cup, but her heart is with the sweepstakes bunny her friends are enjoying. I know this resonates with a lot of moms out there. Really hard bringing up a healthy kid in an unhealthy world that throws billions into it’s advertising.
In the US especially, infants are trained early to expect overly sweet food…we may need to rethink what goes in to baby formula, baby food and so on to help break this awful cycle. I know of one organic juice company, firstjuice.com doing just that along with a dedicated army of smaller food companies tired of giving in to the “big guys”.
I’m so looking forward to Robin O’Brian’s new book, The Unhealthy Truth. This book will help parents understand some of the problems with the foods their kids eat. I think this book needs to be required reading for school administrators, and schools should offer parent and student classes around it. Parents and kids could really use some help understanding what’s happening in the food industry and what they can do to change it.
One of the greatest benefits of living through cancer was my deeper understanding of eating well and eating more green. A friend introduced me to the idea of juicing green – true blends of the best of green foods with nutritional benefits that go through the roof. One of my favorite juices became a 42 oz organic mixture of: celery, kale, spinach, garlic (yes garlic). From time to time I would add Swiss chard and if I was daring dandilion greens due to their aweful taste but powerful antioxidant punch.
It did take a few tries to get this all down but once I changed my mindset and thought of how much I was helping my struggling body to win over cancer, I had no problem with it. In fact, I still green juice during the summer almost every other day and during the winter I switch off week to week with either a red cabbage or kale shitake mushroom soup. My daughter prefers the cabbage as I love the kale shitake…
Green juicing really helps invigorate you and helps you put yourself together, too. In fact, though this may sound strange, my oncologist was a little worried when I started chemo that my new healthy diet would almost make me too strong for the chemo. But he let me try it, and I really learned a lot about nutrition with the experience. Even during the chemo, my skin was glowing. My elimination was great. I felt strong. I felt like I finally received the message that everyone had been trying to tell me for years when they said, “Eat your fruits and vegetables.” I realized in my own fridge, in the fresh foods drawer, I had a whole world of antioxidants. I had a whole world of nutrients. And my body had been telling me to PLEASE STOP eating that other stuff. PLEASE give me what I crave.
So now in my own life I do travel with my raw carrot sticks, my celery sticks, my apples, my bananas, my bottles of water in the stainless steel containers. And almonds – I love my raw almonds. I have them in the car, in my purse, at home, not as a diet (I never diet) but as a way of living… Yes I have a candy bar on a rare occasion and enjoy every bite, but that usually holds me for quite some time.
All in all, I’ve learned that if I can eat nutrient-dense foods, I feel better. I know if I am giving my body wants it wants and what it needs, I can maintain my weight better and have the energy to enjoy the life I set out to live.