Monday, November 28, 2011

Goodbye Thanksgiving, Until Next Year...

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It has been for some time. At first it was because it was all about food and I have always loved to eat. But now I love Thanksgiving for different reasons.

First, Thanksgiving is an all inclusive holiday that virtually everyone in this country celebrates. Not everyone does something summery and special for Memorial Day. Easter is a religious holiday, and not even every Christian does something special for it even if they acknowledge its passing. Christmas is all over the map in terms of traditions. But when it comes to Thanksgiving, almost every business shuts down and everyone gets to participate. Of course there are many folks who do work on Thanksgiving, but I have always found that whoever you are with becomes your family for the day. Whether you are with family or friends or even strangers, on Thanksgiving, kindness prevails and we break bread together in some way.

Secondly, Thanksgiving is a uniquely American tradition. Okay, okay, okay, it has become socially acceptable, even cool to bash our country and its faults in culture. Celebrities do it all the time. And while I do not turn a blind eye to all the cultural issues that we have, we should be proud of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a thoughtful holiday, a time out to give thanks for all the blessings we have. Today when our culture is synonymous with take-out cheeseburgers, texting on smartphones and stalled out highway traffic we should be proud that way back at our country’s dawn our ideological ancestors began such a wonderful and thoughtful tradition.

Thirdly, Thanksgiving is all about food! Yum, yum, yum. I can’t decide what I like best—turkey, my Spinach Madeline, my sister in law’s sweet potato soufflĂ© or my mother-in-law’s German stuffing with all the bacon. Thanksgiving is all about food. It is a holiday that centers around the harvest table. That is especially poignant for those of us who eat locally and seasonally. Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for all we have in life, yes, but specifically that sentiment grew from one group’s thankfulness over an adequate harvest. We take having enough food for granted so much these days that it is easy to forget why our forefather’s were so thankful and why the holiday is all about food in the first place. And I do love that it is tradition to eat seasonally even if just for the one day. Many different ethnicities across the country give Thanksgiving their own twist, but most still serve a turkey and some sides that are typical to the Northeastern US, where the first Thanksgiving began. Perhaps a meal of root vegetables and gourds defeats the purpose if you live in say, the Southwest, but that is what makes this Holiday great. You can adapt the food without losing the essence of the holiday itself.

And lastly, I really really like that in the last several years in my current job, my office has been closed on Black Friday. I like being able to enjoy the four day weekend with friends and family. I like that I do not have to go into a mall on the day of the year known for long lines and crazy shopper behavior. Though I must say, during my years in retail management, there was a special energy to working Black Friday that was *almost* fun. And even during those years I always liked that the feeling of Thanksgiving permeated the whole four day weekend, even if you had to work.

So tonight as I type (it is Sunday evening as I type this), I am a bit melancholy for the long Thanksgiving weekend to end. It comes but once a year. We are off onto the frenzy of Christmas. And while the underlying message of Christmas is similar to Thanksgiving, Christmas has been painted up with commercialism. So until next year, here is to giving thanks for all the blessings of this life. I am especially thankful for my family and my children because they are wonderful people whom I love, my job because they are like a second family to me and my home because it is warm, inviting and safe. I am also eternally thankful that God guides me every day to where I need to be in order to do good things and live a better life. That is the kind of good fortune that makes me deeply thankful. And of course, I am also very thankful for my new glittery ballet flats. I mean, all work and no play makes Christa a dull girl. (It really does.)

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

11 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me Before I Had Children

Having kids has been the best thing I have ever done with my life. It has also been the most time consuming, the most patience-testing, the most expensive and the most trying thing I have ever done with my life. My children are so active that sometimes I wonder if it is just us? I also wonder how people decide to have more than two kids. I also wonder why my boss doesn't give me a medal some days just for showing up.

I got tons of advice before I had children. None of it was any newsflash. And none of it helped me to prepare for actually having children. Here are the ten things I wish people WOULD have told me prior to having children.

1-You will never again sleep past 8 o'clock without some prior planning and or tag teaming. DH and I have designated sleep in days. He gets Saturday and I get Sunday. But for almost three years we hadn't figured that nugget out and when the kids got up we both got up. We are regular geniuses, eh?

2-Just because you put your kids to bed late does NOT mean that they will wake up late. I have put my kids to bed at ten PM only to have them still awake at 6:30. And you know what happens next right? Crankypants kids. Sometimes it takes two days for them to catch up on one late night. Boy, that sure is a motivator for turning in early.

3-You *might* never wear a bikini again. My mother-in-law loves to remind me that she wore a bikini until she was almost fifty and she bore four kids. Yes you heard that right. And I saw the pictures and she was pretty smokin' in that bikini. I always thought that wearing a bikini was up to the person. If you were motivated to wear a bikini then you worked out and watched what you ate and you could look fabulous. You can do anything that you put your mind to!! Sorry, no go. Having children is like rolling the sexy-dice, you might go back looking like your old self or you might end up disfigured and with stretch marks. I, gentle friends, am the latter. Thing 2 was so large that I stretched quite badly even though I did everything right. And because I have a relatively small frame but bore this massive man-child, my stomach now looks like someone has let the air out of it. So even though I still fit into my now 12-year-old bikinis, seeing me on a beach or community pool actually wearing one of them would be a not-good idea. 'She sure can clear a pool' is not a compliment.

4-One-piece swimsuits never look as good as the two-pieces. Now that I pretty much wear one pieces all the time, I must tell you, designers throw together their one piece designs after all the sexy two pieces are out of the way. And for a long waisted girl like me, I have to buy a size 10 or 12 just to get them to be long enough. Then the arm holes are too big or the leg holes stretch up super high resulting in a wedgie every time I take a step. Seriously? I am ready to leave the beach and put my shorts back on.

5-All the furniture that you own will be destroyed. I understood, babies mean baby-proofing. So I placed my grandmother's delicate and cherished Lladro figurines in the china cabinet out of reach. But I can't put the couch in the china cabinet. Can I? We got a lovely but not terribly expensive coffee table just before I got preggers with Thing 1. Today it has a warped panel from spilled milk and dozens of tiny teeth marks from when Thing 2 was teething. Our couch also wasn't super fancy, but we bought it new five years ago and didn't shop the sales. It now sags in the middle has huge rips in the fabric. And that doesn't even mention all the times one kid or another has peed on it. Yeah-you totally want to come over to my house don't you?

6-Baby gear has a two-kid life time. My heart bleeds for a third baby. But I do NOT think that will be happening unless we somehow hit the big time. Besides the obvious, needing a bigger apartment and car, we have nothing left from when Thing 1 was a baby. All of the gear we bought broke while Thing 2 was using it. The swing, the bouncy seat, the toys, the clothes, the high chair, the spoons and forks, you name it, it broke. So I get it. That third kid is an expensive endeavor making a fourth kid almost necessary to justify the expense. On the flip side, throwing away broken stuff has been far easier than throwing away treasured baby things that we no longer need. It isn't like I have the room to store all those treasured memories anyway.

7-You will never again have trouble falling asleep. Not much to say about that. When I finally get to sleep, I go to sleep. None of this tossing and turning bullshit.

8-Your boobs will not necessarily stay big. In fact they probably will shrink. My mother always told me that after she had kids her boobs stayed bigger than they were beforehand. I was ready for this!!! I am one of the founding members of the Itty-Bitty-Titty-Comittee, so this was one thing I was really hoping for after having children. However, I lost quite a bit of weight after having kids, more than I had gained in pregnancy. So my story isn't exactly like my mother's. In fact I found myself in Macy's eight or so months after Thing 1 was born saying to the sales woman 'My bras just aren't fitting right anymore.' She took one look at me and told me my problem, I was actually an A cup. Do you know that they don't make a whole lot of A cup bras? Fast forward to just a few months ago. I went to Bloomingdale's. I knew to ask for help since there were likely 5 bras in the whole store that would fit me. The woman measured me and asked me 'Have you ever considered trying petite bras?' I said 'Why would I? I am almost 5'8".' The ending of that story? Companies do make double A petite bras and almost no one stocks that size. Being me is so awesome, isn't it?

9-The terrible twos aren't the end of the story. The threes are pretty terrible too and even four can have its moments. I waited for Thing 1's third birthday singing a song about happy times are here again. And I discovered that three is worse that two. When your kids are two, they melt down over everything. And it is easy not to get sucked into their irrational spiral. You step over them writhing on the floor and wait for them to get over their tantrum. At three the tantrums become physical. They want candy, you say no, they run to the pantry and start climbing up the shelves in the cabinet. At four they give you three reasons why you should give them candy AND they ask nicely and when you still say no they go for broke screaming at the top of their lungs. Can someone please tell me that five is better? Six? I am ready for anything these days.

10-Nothing will ever be perfect. The only advice I ever give new or expecting parents is 'Never say never'. It is not a call to abandon principles but rather a reminder that sometimes when faced with difficult or stressful situations, you might make different choices than when you are still pregnant, calm and well rested. I never thought I would allow my kids to watch TV during dinner or get what they want after a tantrum, but every day is different and every situation is different. While a child can make a habit in just three or four days, many times that habit can also be broken in three or four days too.

11-Kids don't learn anything the first time you teach them something new. Okay, that might not be entirely true. But I think what it really means is that it takes kids longer than one time to learn anything. So don't stress if they don't learn right away or maybe you didn't explain it right the first time. It doesn't matter because you will get another chance to teach them again. And I am not talking about building block towers or writing the letter B, I am talking about being kind to friends, telling the truth and always doing your best. These are lessons that take years to learn, so get ready to teach them....over and over and over again.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Halloween Candy Cookies

So....for any of you guys out there who think I am an evil nasty mommy who has robbed her kids of an endless gorging of candy on Halloween, I think I have struck a balance with the kiddos.

Thing 2 had no idea what was going on with Halloween. He just liked dressing up and staying out late. He loved eating the candy, but had no idea why people were giving it to him and when the night was finished he had no concept of how much loot he had gotten. Thing 1 understands the concept now. So you can't just take the candy away from him. I agree, taking away somthing precious from your child, even if it isn't good for them, is a good way to break trust with your kid. If you want to wrestle the candy out of their tightly closed sweaty palms, you have to win them over with rational thought, or style, or both.

Last weekend I took all the chocolate bars from their big bag of candy and make Halloween Candy Cookies. My thinking was that in cookie form the kids could see that candy had some uses other than just fast joyless consumption. Also, I figured that with some whole grains and pastured butter, all that sugar would be in better company. Plus, some fat and fiber would slow the absorption of the sugar down, making for less crazy children. I don't know about you, but my kids are crazy after having candy, they fight and crab, you name it.

I made just the Toll House cookie recipe which I think is just the bees' knees. Of course, I made some changes, I used Organic Valley's Pastured Butter. I also used 100% whole wheat flour instead of white and I used rapadura instead of the white sugar. Since it has been a week, I can't remember, but I think I used one cup of rapadura instead of the one and a half cups of white sugar that the original recipe calls for. If you are having trouble finding rapadura, it is sold by a company called Rapunzel under a slightly different name. You can find it at Whole Foods, but Tropical Traditions does sell it. I have identified it as a product I love. You can find a like to Tropical Traditions in my side bar. And of course I used chopped up candy bars instead of chocolate chips. The changes made for a slightly less sweet cookie. But now that we are accustomed to eating 100% whole wheat flour, I had no issues with that.

I made the cookies while Thing 2 and DH were passed out for an afternoon nap. Thing 1 helped. I gave him a dinner knife and let him cut up some of the candy. I also let him mix the butter and shape some of the balls. We had a good time together. And having him help was crucial to this. He got to sample some of the candy before it went in the batter. He got to see what I was doing with all the candy. And at the end, he got cookies warm from the oven. Not a half bad deal. And by the way, the cookies with the Butterfinger pieces were so good that I am considering an entire Butterfinger batch at some point.

So you see, I wasn't just planning on rudely snatching my kids Halloween candy away from them. I wanted them to be a part of the life cycle of that candy. Thing 1 hasn't asked for any candy since we made the cookies. And there still was more left, just all the non-chocolate pieces. He was really into eating the cookies themselves. The holiday is officially over and I have to give my kids credit. They indulged the night of Halloween and for the week or so after they had one or two pieces a night. They didn't fall on the ground and tantrum for more. They earned their candy by eating good healthy balanced dinners. Maybe they are learning to put sugar in perspective after all? Still, next year I imagine I will forget this moment of sanity and give a few stern lectures over the evils of sugar. We are not perfect, after all.


Monday, November 7, 2011

When I Stopped Eating

Friday's post brought up alot of emotion in me. The emotion was in part from defending myself and in part from some self conscious concern over whether all my interactions with my kids have been positive. I want my desire to eat healthy to be just that, healthy eating. I DO NOT want this journey to be just another type-A orthorexic hissy fit. The whole point is to heal what we eat and how we eat, not to be excessively controlling and evangelistic.

After writing Friday's post, I thought maybe it was time to tell you all about where I have been and how eating real food has changed my outlook. I touch on it a little in my very poorly formatted first post. But I suppose I need to go into more depth. I spent much of my early childhood overeating. I especially loved junk! Fritos and potato chips, Dr Pepper and cookies, you name it, I loved it. Down South, Fried is just the fifth food group and I took any chance I got to eat anything that was deep-fried.

I began to struggle with my weight around age 10. I was a heavier kid just because I liked to eat alot. I got a few glances from people over my food choices at times. But my parents generally stayed quiet. They had some mild food limits (no more than three cookies at a time) but it was nothing excessive. I do not know if that was because they saw nothing wrong with my eating or if they didn't know how to tell me that I was overdoing it. Also, parents are routinely encouraged not to chide a child for their eating habits since often kids do eat more to prepare for growths spurts. Perhaps my parents didn't realize how much junk we were eating during that time in our lives. Whatever the reason for their silence, I packed on a few pounds because of the choices I was making.

I never really was FAT. To say I was fat would be an insult to those who really struggle with their health and diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure among many other things. I actually was preparing for a growth spurt in 1992(she says laughing)but it was a growth spurt three years in the making. AND I prepped for it by drinking Dr Pepper and eating Cool Ranch Doritos. And yes, people noticed. And yes, people told me what they thought about me. I hated junior high school. If you were to ask me what my darkest days were, I would say 91-93 without a doubt. 7th and 8th grade, where social competition is cut throat and the playing field isn't even thanks to the different players' biological schedules. Some girls look more like women, whereas I looked more like a child. Words like 'fat' or 'ugly' from my peers left me unable to defend myself. And if I had only been able to shut my mouth and not fight back so loudly I probably would have been better off. But I played into the game unwittingly and made my own plight worse by boiling over with anger. I have never been a shrinking violet. Still, it always came back to weight, self worth equaled weight. And If only I could eat less!! Less was the only answer. But hunger would always return, and eating felt good. And no one was telling me to stop.

My parents seemed pretty unaware or perhaps just unsure of what to do with this riled up emotional little girl. All the turmoil at school seemed to go unnoticed. I found out in March of 1993 why they seemed so preoccupied. Divorce.

My parents began divorce proceedings when I was 13. It was a hit during an already difficult time. My parents divorce forced another character trait in me to the surface, determination. Stressed from all the upheaval and change, survival kicked in. In order to cope with the stress, I threw myself into school and extra-curricular activities. Thanks to non-stop work, I received better grades during the spring of 1993 than I would ever see again in my school career. I got straight A’s during the period right after my parents separated. Until that point in my life I never knew that I reacted to extreme stress by working harder. I find I still do so today.

I started high school in the fall of 1993, which was a better environment. In a new school of 2000 kids there were more groups of friends to find, there was more distance and more opportunity for me to find my own voice without the ghosts of past mistakes to haunt me. I discreetly slipped away from the friends I had had the previous years. My parents continued to argue about their separation and how to handle it. In the state of Tennessee there is a year waiting period between the time that you file for divorce and when things become finalized. I suppose the thought was, to some conservative southern law makers, that a waiting period would give hot headed couples a chance to reconcile. But all it did for my family was put off the inevitable and delay the healing process. We were all on hold for an entire year.

Meanwhile I was still obsessed with food, and the nation as a whole was too! So much new research was coming out showing a correlation between fat and well being FAT. Low fat everything was available! Low fat cookies, low fat ice cream, yogurt, fanciful food science concoctions! Everyone was talking about low fat everything. Soda was even okay because there was no fat!

But I was on the sidelines of the low fat debate with a different motivation. While my parents and friends weren't looking, I took a brief hiatus from eating.

In the Fall of 1993 I simply stopped eating meals where no one was watching me.
It started the week before school began that August. It wasn’t a conscious decision, or one that I toyed around with. I was about to start high-school and with my parents’ divorce proceedings taking up so much time and energy, I started to have a lot more alone time. I remember toying with the idea of eating less. Then one day I got the urge to bake lemon poppy seed muffins, of all things. When they were done, I began to eat one and I suddenly felt so full. I felt disgusted that I was eating when I was already full, stuffing my face like a pig. I looked at the muffin, and I thought, ‘what would happen if I just didn’t eat this food?’ Would the earth begin to crumble if I wasted one morsel? Could I possibly say no to this tender combination of white flour and white sugar? I threw the muffin in the garbage and it began.

As school got underway I experimented further with not eating. I was unsupervised during breakfast, so instead of eating a full breakfast, I had a slice of bread. Then after some time, I cut the slice in half. But I didn't want to draw attention to myself, so I would throw away the other half slice. I would have my half a slice of bread with a glass of water at 6am, then get ready for the day. Some days I could skip lunch. But being at school you are never alone, so most days I would eat some small sandwich or lettuce that I had packed from home because someone was around, but no chips. And I eliminated snacks completely. Those snacks which had once been Fritos and Velveeta cheese and potato chips and cookies now completely disappeared. I remember being hungry, but not like before. Once I stopped eating the hunger went away. Furthermore, my heart was hurting so much from the stress at home that I wasn’t interested in enjoying food. It was easy for me to cut out that once loved sensory experience. In my mind I reduced food to a caloric experience. I knew I wanted to lose weight, and so I rationally ate less.

But I didn’t stop eating completely. Dinner was supervised, so I would have to eat a normal meal. Weekends were largely supervised, so I would generally cut myself some slack. But I wouldn’t allow myself seconds or foods deemed fattening. And snacks were still out of the question. I didn't want to draw attention to myself. I didn't want anyone to catch onto me for fear that I would be spoken too. I knew that what I was doing was not healthy. I had heard about Anorexia, though I know now that I was far from it. And the last thing I wanted to hear was that I needed to wait out some stupid assumed growth spurt. No one was going to tell me that I had to eat! This was my body and I was damn well going to do with it what I wanted!! Besides what other options did I have? The only nutrition information I was getting in school was the grain heavy USDA Nutritional Pyramid and a stern lecture about not eating potato chips and cake. I didn’t need to be told what NOT to eat. I needed someone to tell me what TO eat!

I was smart, I was determined and I could out-think many people. As long as I was chipper and upbeat, no one thought any differently about my losing weight. My mother was never the wiser. She was too wrapped up in her own Prozac cloud to worry about 10 or 15 lost pounds in her daughter. In fact eventually she did notice that I was looking slimmer and she was proud of me. I even remember her saying to me that she had been right all along, I was going through a growth spurt and the extra weight was just going away. She never knew about the mornings at 6 am in the dark house where I stared down that half a piece of bread to give me all of it secrets with none of its evil. I was convinced that food was evil. Its only purpose was to make me unhappy and overweight.

But suddenly, as I was growing inches taller and shedding pounds, everyone seemed to approach me differently. No one was rude to me any longer. Many of the people who had once taunted me in such a cruel way faded into the background, no doubt moving onto easier prey. In my hunger I found strength. I found will. I found control. At this point in my life, being thin was about being in control and having dominion over all my actions. Unfortunately, all of my focus was about eating LESS. The focus was never on WHAT I was eating, always how much. Of course I ate more lettuce and celery, the diet foods of the time. But I knew precisely nothing about vitamins and nutrients, so all food was to be feared. Especially fat. I meditated a lot on gluttony during this period in my life, as though thin people were somehow morally in control of themselves while overweight people were sinners. Which is of course not true. Still, the process of losing weight, looking differently and living in this new unfamiliar and newly beautiful body was fantastic. Of course I loved the new way people treated me. I loved seeing how boys treated me differently. I began to see myself differently.

But do you know what inadvertently happened? My self-worth now became tied to my body. As long as I was thin I believed that that was what people liked about me. My personality, heart and mind were just accompanying the real deal, a slim figure. I did of course want people to discover the 'real me'. But I assumed that no one ever would want the inside me without the outside package. That's how it worked right? That was what other people valued right? Never mind that I never judged my own dear friends on anything but their good hearts and intentions. I had an impossible double standard going on in my mind. One set of standards where other people's value was measured in their goodness and the kindness of their actions and my own value which was largely measured by my outward appearance and whether I could keep my hunger in check and weight in line. This warped viewpoint continued for at least a decade until I met my wonderful husband.

I have not experienced a similar period of non-eating in my adult life. There have been very stressful times, like after my mother's death, that I have been unable to eat normally. But never where I specifically stopped eating to lose weight. More so in my adult life I have struggled with my inability to stop eating. Before I eliminated processed foods, I was hungry all the time. I snacked often and bought tons of what I now consider to be junk. Saying no to a bowl full of office candy was nearly impossible.

The only thing that has helped my relationship with food has been the real food mentality. When I identified all the non-food ingredients in processed food, I found it much easier to say no. Then when I started eating more fat, more fiber, far more vegetables and fewer grains, I found I was no longer hungry. I don't snack all that often now. And when I do I know that it is because I didn't eat enough lunch, or because I am bored at work (yes, everyone snacks because they are bored). I am finally in control, not the food. My food mentality is not just about what needed to be eliminated from my diet, but what needed to be added. In fact I would say that what we have added to our diet have been more influential than what we have taken away. Maybe because all that junk we always ate wasn't giving us the nutrients we needed. Now that we are so full of good food we don't want any of the junk. Whatever it is, I finally feel like I can say no to an Entenmann's cake or even a snickers bar. All that junk just isn't...good enough for me anymore.

This post is shared with Fat Tuesday, Simple Lives Thursdays and Fight Back Fridays

Friday, November 4, 2011

How Do You Talk To Your Kids About Food Without Making Them Crazy?

I appreciate all of my readers comments. That isn't just lip service. A 'way to go' does alot to brighten my day. And I rarely counter a negative comment because if someone is motivated to tell me off then they probably had a pretty good reason. As a blogger (and intelligent human being), it is my responsibility to be open to listen. We can all grow and learn from constructive criticism.

Last week I posted about a conversation I had had with Thing 1 on junk food. The conversation was precious because he freely shared information with me, which I always love. And because he was in such a sharing mood, I asked a few questions that I thought were harmless. And Thing 1 answered them happily. I received several interesting comments which gave me some perspective on our family's struggle with the omnipresent junk food monster. And then, I received this comment:

"Honestly, anything that is preceded: "Because it's OK if you can tell me" is a TRAP! This is true in marriage, parenting, etc- not that it isn't OK for them to tell you, but obviously there will be consequences if the asker does not receive the answer they want.

I mean, he's what- three? Four? How many times a day, for how many days of his life, are you going to make what he eats an issue? If it were me, I would learn to lie just to avoid another barrage of questions. He may end up feeling paranoid with how insistent you are to know what he's putting in his mouth 24-7- and hey, it's your prerogative as a parent.

But since you're asking for feedback, I will tell you that I think you are setting your kid up to hide candy bar wrappers in old shoe boxes in his closet because he doesn't want to disappoint you.

Lay off a little bit...You can be an advocate for your children to eat healthy food, but sometimes when you try too hard to push them into a mold (even for good, solid reasons- like health) you end up getting the opposite reaction because, well, you'll end up coming off as obnoxious. I don't think I'd want to be asked about ANYTHING when I come home from a long day as much you've asked him about his food in the above conversation. By saying "It's OK if you did" and then asking 20 follow-up questions about what he ate suggests to him that his initial answer wasn't satisfactory to you and he's obviously trying to avoid the subject by "looking off into space"- this is learned behavior that is supposed to signal, "Jeez lady, drop the darn food thing already..." "

Well then. Okay. I kept the comment in my inbox for several days. I reread it a few times to soak in the author's intentions and perspective. I think there are some valid points to be had here. First and foremost, trusting your child and involving him in family decisions is paramount to building a strong relationship with him. Also, pushing a child into a tight mold doesn't always work and can strain one's relationship with their child and possibly even eventually alienate him from you in adulthood. Wasn't that the overarching message of Tiger Mom?

But one other point in this comment leaves me frustrated. The very idea that eliminating or at all limiting junk food from my child's diet would drive a wedge between my child and I is completely preposterous. I write this blog to share my experiences with other parents who have similar beliefs and share information that supports my beliefs. And what I have found is that there are many many other parents searching for the same thing, a safe food environment for their kids. Our food Nirvana is one without food coloring, chemical preservatives and excessive sugar. I want to give my kids good food, and in writing this blog I have connected with other parents who want to do the same. Isn't that what a blog IS? In spite of the shortness of the junk food conversation with Thing 1, if my strong relationship with my child hasn't come through in the post then I have to assume that my writing was sub-par. I admit this particular article was hastily written. I take full responsibility.

But the commenter brings up a good point on which I have been meaning to touch. Does talking to your kids about healthy food versus unhealthy food create anxiety in your child? Will this dialogue lead to eating disorders like hoarding, binging and even anorexia?

Dietitians and nutritionists LOVE to tell us not to label foods healthy or unhealthy for fear that the general public will not be able to cope with our guilt when we do indulge. Pediatric nutritionists also sound the warning call about creating anorexia and bulimia in our children. But at their core, eating disorders are anxiety disorders. In certain cases, I can imagine the extremely high standards of perfectionist parents can create anxiety in a child. I have seen it happen and I imagine you have also. Especially when there is more than one area of a child's life where perfection is expected like food, academics and sports. All the stress to perform can manifest in a food related anxiety disorder like anorexia. But often the food itself is just the tool of the anxiety. In the fascinating book Drinking A Love Story, Caroline Knapp writes of only sober period as the year when she traded alcoholism for anorexia. For a time starving herself was her way of coping. Once she started abusing alcohol as a coping mechanism again, the anorexia was no longer needed and disappeared. The topic of anorexia is complex, it goes way beyond a fear of food and often incorporates fear, anxiety and control issues. Anorexia often surfaces in a young person who feels powerless. One's diet is something over which one can execute considerable control.

Telling your four year old that potato chips are junk will not create anorexia in you child. Such a statement would be a trite insult to those suffering with such a debilitating disorder. Furthermore, placing limits on junk food will also not cause binging and hoarding. And if you explain yourself, as parents should in order to teach their children, your children can begin to understand WHY you might choose to limit junk food.

Of course intention is key, telling your child that junk food is unhealthy for them is a very different message than junk food makes you fat and it is bad to be fat. It is also different than constantly berating them or cruelly reminding them that junk food is unhealthy. Be sure, my conversations with my kids are occasional and center around feeling strong, growing tall, managing their hunger and having energy. I don't tell my kids that it is bad to be fat, every child carries weight differently as they move in and out of growth spurts. And weight or appearance is something over which a child has very little control. Inferring that a child would be unlovable if they were overweight might indeed create anxiety in said child. I would love my kids desperately no matter what they looked like.

In fact I believe that if you are eating real food, your body will do what it needs to do to and be what it needs to be. Eating real food and not processed garbage has gone a long way toward helping me to accept my own body. Eating real food has also helped me not fall to pieces when I indulge in cake or potato chips. Truly, a piece of cake can be part of a nourishing and healthy diet, but in order to say that first you have to have a truly nourishing and healthy diet. I don't advocate perfection. And anyone reading this blog for any length of time has seen me post about my family's lack of perfection.

In light of that comment I wrote The Grinch That Stole Halloween and tried to clearly articulate all of the above. I wanted to communicate that the holiday was fun, that we were excited to participate and even have some candy! But that I had issues with the focus of the holiday being JUST candy and gluttony. That is like Christmas just being about the presents, and most people seem to agree that there is more to Christmas than presents. Remember too that Halloween was a precursor to All Saints Day where we remember the saints who have all passed on. It is a time of year to honor the dead. Born out of an older pagan ritual, people would dress up in costumes the night before so that the awoken spirits would not recognize them. And so that they could do mean things to others with impunity. The candy thing is a modern alteration.

Then I got this comment...

"Between your interrogation of your four about what he eats everyday, and this trick or treating thing...I have to conclude that I am extremely happy you aren't my mom! Aren't there better, greater things to worry about than if your kid eats a few Butterfingers one day a year? Your house sounds like no fun."

Okay. The first comment I took to heart. I thought it was important that I truly examine my interactions with my children when it comes to food. Also I would hate to alienate a regular reader, I value you guys. But after the second comment...well...I had to ask myself does this person even regularly read my blog? This is a non-processed food blog. It is a blog about feeding one's kids REAL food, not convenience foods. It is a blog about challenging the accepted notion that we should gorge on sugar and fat whenever we get the chance. Has this person read any of the other stuff I have written against sugar? See here and here and here--those links are ALL different.

Seriously, if you can't imagine giving up candy, I have to question what you are eating. Candy tastes terrible. My homemade pizza, creamy sausage pasta, marinated steak, buttery mashed potatoes, crispy pork tacos in homemade tortillas and homemade maple granola all taste better than the crappy Kraft caramel I had this week that had a grainy texture and flat flavor.

What about Allergenic kids? Do they grow up angry with their parents because they cannot eat peanuts, gluten or whatever they are allergic to? What about children brought up as Kosher? Do they feel like their parents have deprived them of pork and shellfish? What about them? Is there a greater risk of binging and hoarding among those kids? No. Because they are given a logical reason why they cannot eat those foods. My kids can choose as adults if they want to follow this way of life or not. It will be there choice at that point.

All I am saying is that I am giving my kids real reasons why we eat this way. We embrace fat because we understand that it is important in appetite control, proper cell function and even brain function. We eat pastured animals because they are healthier, resulting in meat that is higher in Omega-3's which are heart healthy, as opposed to CAFO meat which are higher in Omega-6's. We avoid sugar because it is implicated in cancer and heart disease, obesity and Diabetes, degenerative diseases. Hell, sugar is even implicated in Restless Leg Syndrome.

My kids NEED to know about food. It is not some little part of our lives. So they get fewer lollipops growing up than I did. Why is that important? Our children's generation is the first in the history of our nation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. I damn well better be doing SOMETHING to help my children have a healthy life with food and without sugar, or else I can't say I have done all I can as a parent. This isn't about weight or looks, it is about health.

And lastly, comments like this do alot to intimidate us as healthy parents into not speaking our minds about the way that we raise our kids. And I for one will NOT be intimidated into raising a child that eats the Standard American Diet. If you don't like what I am feeding my kids, you can go read someone else's blog.

This post is shared with Fight Back Fridays and Fat Tuesday and Simple Lives Thursdays

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

100% Pure Giveaway Winner!!

Better late than never right?! For the record I did look at the comments yesterday and I went to to choose the winner. But I just didn't get it posted. We got swamped with work and Halloween proceedings. Fortunately for the boys they got lots of candy and treats and they enjoyed them all!! Fortunately for mommy they ate some scrambled eggs before bed to settle their tummies.

And on a side note, if your child ever bites on a glow stick, cracking it open and swallowing some of the liquid, don't freak out. Poison Control says it happens all the time. A little extra water (and a pull up) is all they need.

But without further ado.... The winner of the $25 100% Pure giftcard is D. Lynn!!! Please email me at thetableofpromise(at)yahoo(dot)com. I will get you in touch with the right people.

Again, a heartfelt thanks to Karley Zigler Mott and the great folks at Alex and Von for sponsoring the giveaway! Even if you didn't win, definitely go to their website and see what they are offering. 100% Pure is completely free of yuckies and the products perform very well! They are great for me, a mom with high natural ideals who needs to look good and doesn't have time for products that don't work. I love this stuff!!

Thanks for entering and Enjoy!!