Thursday, February 5, 2009

The 3rd Great Thing about Home School-- Eating Like Our Lives Depend on It!

You are what you eat, from your head down to your feet. Isn’t that the truth? The challenge when my kids were in traditional school was that I never knew what they were eating. I sent them away everyday with their lunch boxes filled with wholesome healthy food. My son often opted for recess over lunch and didn’t eat a thing all day, which lead to concentration deficiencies, mood swings and incidents of hypoglycemia.

I never did figure out what my daughter was eating. Sometimes she came home with an empty box. Sometimes there were remnants of items she had obviously traded away for something much more “highly coveted” by her elementary school culinary standards. I had nightmares wondering what she may have ingested, and constantly wondered which kid in her class was benefitting from my carefully selected, nutritional items. And then, horror of horrors, she coerced me into participating in the school lunch program. I now understand exactly how my mother felt—defeated and guilty!

I am admittedly, somewhat of a “food purist” at this point in my life. When I hit 40 a few years ago depleted of energy and vitality, I realized that the “root cause” of my lethargy was my nutrition and if I didn’t turn things around, by the time I was 60, I would be out of steam. I am planning on reaching at least 100, so eating poorly wasn’t an option. Going forward, I decided, I would have to eat as if my life depended on it, literally!

Interestingly, I had always considered myself a healthy eater, so facing the fact that I was very under informed was hard on my ego. I learned that due to my poor eating habits and extreme stress from my role as an entrepreneur, wife and mother, I was an acid producing machine. I had become a veritable “Petri dish” for toxicity, disease, and even potentially, cancer growth. I had created the perfect environment in my system to quickly destroy itself. I can only hope that through a series of cleanses, I have removed that toxicity and there are no remnants hanging around from the old days.

Anyway, I launched a two year, massive personal research study on food, nutrition, detoxification, and hormones. And slowly, over the course of those two years, completely changed what my family eats when we are in our house. How did I do this? I read and read and read the best resources I could find and then formed my opinions when three or more experts seemed to be saying the same thing and had the research to back it. I attended seminars, fasted and cleansed to reduce toxins in my system. I have even become an avid enthusiast of the “dreaded colon cleanse.” I can’t say enough about it!

Granted, I am still not as thin as I would like to be because I haven’t made exercise a daily MUST for myself, although my “really clean friend”, guru and yogi master Gina, recently inspired me to get back into yoga. Thank you Gina! Even though I average about 5-7 hours of sleep a night, still have more than enough energy to give each day my best.

Applying these eating habits in my family while we were in traditional school often did not go as planned. I managed to keep myself on my track fairly well, and when I could find time to cook, my family ate well. But like many other families in the US, we were starved for time and nutrition. I was caught on the proverbial treadmill, juggling work, carpools, errands, kids, and husband. I held up the “white flag” too often as I surrendered to the fast food alternative, just for the sake of quieting the hunger cries from my tribe while adhering to schedules. This created nothing but bad habits and deep inner conflict. More guilt, thank you. Don’t Mom’s already have enough?

Which leads me to what I love about home school…The food guilt complex is obliterated!

We eat almost all our meals at home now, prepared by me and monitored by me. My family is eating well. My son has grown 6 inches in the last 8 months and I can only attribute it to the improvement in diet. I share information about food and healthy living practices, including my feelings about the importance of colon cleansing with the kids on a regular basis. They cringe and giggle, but there is mounting evidence that they have been listening.

My 9 year old son is very health conscious now and carefully monitors his glucose/protein balance on his own. He has virtually eliminated sugar from his diet, with the exception of the occasional treat here and there. I feed him his vitamin packed smoothies daily so I know he is getting all his essential nutrients and fatty acids.

My daughter remains resistant my healthy smoothies and is by all accounts, a true “junk food junkie” who would eat donuts daily if allowed. And it’s unfortunate, because she is a gifted dancer who will need good eating habits for peak performance. But I was shocked just recently when we were caught in a now rare situation which called for a fast food solution. I meekly suggested Burger King. She declared, “Mom, can’t we go someplace healthier, I feel really bad when I eat fast food.” And today, she said, “Mom, I am really starting to dislike dairy. I really don’t feel good when I eat it. I am going to find alternatives.” Wow! Not to say she won’t continue to be child-like in her food choices. She’s only 10. My expectations are relatively low. But that was completely unexpected!

I guess we’re all on the program now to one degree or another, eating as though our lives depend on it. I'll let you know when they request a colon cleanse.

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