Category Archives: Odds and Ends

A Letter To My Kids About Food

Dear Kids,

I love you so much. I see all the amazing things you are going to do and all the amazing people that you, as amazing people, are going to touch. I see all the brilliant, creative, and even practical ideas that you daily produce and will continue to produce for yourselves and the world. You are each precious to my heart. I often wonder how God can love each one of us human beings as special entities–and yet none more special than the next–and here, in my heart, I feel a meager bit of that bottomless capability. When compared to each other, you are each so different, but in my heart, you are loved with the same love.

What I want for you is to live boldly and freely, living up to your potential. Over the last four years, I have learned that for me to do so I must eat a real, whole food diet adjusted for some food sensitivities I have picked up (or maybe I was born with, I don’t know). You know how persistent I have been in keeping our diets clean, real, and whole. I do this because I see the effects it has on our allergies, our headaches, our stomach aches, our bowel control, our joint aches, our asthma, our skin rashes, our immune systems, and even our moods and concentration.

In essence, I persevere because I know now that what we all eat contributes to how well we can participate in life. And I want you all in.

Dear daughters, I want to tell you what I have told myself as I feed you to go do your work in life. Maybe it will help you when you have your own kids. Maybe it will help you now.

 

    Encourage and provide tons of vegetables and fruits.

Pay attention to which ones the kids like and how they like them prepared, making sure to keep those in the food line-up, while introducing new ones to stretch the taste buds.

Make it a goal to not buy pre-packaged foods. Give extra effort to buy whole foods without labels.  

I’ll admit we almost never reach our goal of “no labels,” but having this goal makes us very aware of our purchases and motivates us all to read labels. I love it when you pick up something packaged, and then put it down, saying, “Oh, we can make this. We don’t need to buy it.”

Don’t keep a lot of snack foods on hand other than nuts, vegetables, and fruit (seaweed is fun too), but respect kids’ needs for snacks.

I know the human liver was designed to certainly give three to four hours’ worth of glucose streaming in with no trouble. Perpetual snacks are not necessary in a healthy individual doing regular activities. However, sometimes, lunch was too small. Or supper not to the liking. Or volleyball camp consumed extra energy. Or friends are over. You name it. A well-placed snack is a good snack. But constant, mindless snacking is no good for the body.

Most kids like sweet stuff.

I’ve noticed you eat much better overall when you don’t feel deprived. I’ve also noticed you love a good smelling kitchen. Keeping you on track is easier when I prepare a dessert or sweet every now and then. How often? I honestly can’t say. I watch cues, and I know.

On vacations and certain occasions, step out of the way, letting kids enjoy the moment and the time with family and friends with abandon.

Sure, in the long haul, if a kid never ate ice cream or birthday cake or drank a soda pop, it’d be healthier. And there are probably some kids who will strike that path because of their parents’ rules. Then, there are kids who will just sneak it. Eat it with guilt and shame. Or break free at 18 from all the confinements. You can lie to your parents, but you can’t lie to the body. So eat some, then let it rest. For most people (not all), the body can handle an occasional gluttonous feast.

Do not equate food with body size or self-image. At the most basic level, food is eaten for the body to work right. (Most of the people we love most aren’t skinny.)

It seems like no matter what, somehow, everyone wants to bring it back to size and fat and how you look. I’d be lying if I said society doesn’t care about that. I try not to lie to you. But think about it. Most of the people we love the most aren’t skinny, so love and skinny can’t be equated. (It’s okay, you skinny friends. We adore you too!) Function is the most important, and whole, real food provides nutrition to keep those we love hiking and walking with us—and the processed foods keep them from doing exactly that.

Model real, whole food eating as a parent.

     Sometimes, you just have to say no.

One pediatrician I trained with always told parents, “If they’re told ‘no’ at 2, they’ll accept it at 16.”

I’ll tell you, once Halloween hits, the sugar bliss doesn’t want to stop until after Easter. I’ve seen the effects of all that stuff on your skin, stomachs, and noses. Sometimes, I have to be the meanie and say no.

Realize that even “healthy” things aren’t healthy for all people.

Food sensitivities are everywhere. For some, dairy is very health-promoting; for others, it flares up asthma. For some, whole grains lead to great energy; for others, grains, including whole grains, lead to listlessness and headaches. Sometimes, a parent will tend to think that how they eat is best, which may not actually be best for everyone, including their children. You know that I have a daughter who thrives on meat. I have another who doesn’t. Forcing one into one pattern and the other into another pattern could be highly detrimental to your lifelong eating patterns and health. Best to encourage you all to keep it real, not processed, and as fresh as possible, with awareness of food sensitivities.

     Teach what you know in the kitchen about cooking and actually talk about nutrition.

Life is not about food. It’s about living with your whole heart.

Love,

Mom

 

Self-Doubt and Jealousy

I have a fear. I have a fear that it’s all in my head. What would that be? What’s in my head? Many things.

That food really matters. That I don’t feel good after I eat sugar, bread, and milk. That I can influence how my children develop. That I deserve time to myself as a mom. That I’m any different than anyone else. That I can write. That I know anything that I am talking about.

It is self-doubt. I’m not good enough. I haven’t done enough. Everyone else is smarter. They know what they’re talking about and I don’t. I’m flighty.

All my life I’ve fought it in any way that I could. I’ve fought the quiet little girl from podunkville whose parents (the best parents for me, I would never trade them ever) live exactly where they were born and never wanted more than what they had. Heck, they’re probably related for all I know.

(I remember these two doctors for my med school interview. I had to list on the application where my parents were from and even went to high school. Oh, man. They noticed that right off. “So, your parents went are from the same county? Went to the same high school?” I think I replied, “Yeah! They were first cousins.” No, I didn’t, but I felt the implied insult.)

Each day has been spent in not failing. If I do this well, maybe then I’ll believe in myself. But no matter what the measuring stick, whether you raise it to ten feet tall or drop it to 4 feet 6, my self-doubt persists.

I try to pass it off in nice terms: humility and goodness. I’m supposed to strive to be humble and good, yes? Right? It’s my religion. (Shame on me. I’m sorry. Wrong religion.)

Beginning yesterday, finally, after all these years, I see my self-doubt for what it is.

Pride.

I am too proud to allow room for failure. I am too proud to risk room for being wrong, not doing it right.

The real changers aren’t too proud. They change the world. They change ideas. Their pride doesn’t interfere with what they think they know and want to share, what they’re called to share. The good ones, the humble ones–they just re-work their theories and thoughts as people expand or rebut their ideas.

The best ones DO without attaching the results to WHO they are.

Oh, don’t confuse my self-doubt with lack of self-confidence or low self-esteem. Honestly, I don’t want to be anyone other than who I am. Hand me lots of things, and I have confidence in my abilities to pull them off. (But someone else can always do it better…)

Lately, I’ve noticed sometimes that I have these strange pangs of envy and jealousy. They are not common themes in my life, and I haven’t understood them. I’m not normally that type. Because normally I’m living up to my full potential in each area of my life. Probably living up to my full potential in areas of life I shouldn’t be.

(What do I mean? Well, I’m not naturally neat, but I keep my house neat. I’m not naturally the science type, but I’ve culled myself that way for 26 years.)

I really couldn’t give a drop more in most places. And guess what–I’m not jealous in those places.

But there are a few places—places that make me characteristically me—that I’m not putting myself out there because of self-doubt, and as I stepped back to look, I saw jealousy telling me exactly that.

My self-doubt has taken me from a place of caution, which is probably good, to a place of fear and holding back, to a place of developing jealously. I see it now.

So today I say thank-you to my self-doubt and jealousy, both “BAD” feelings, for teaching me. For telling me to live up to my potential and to stop making excuses.

(“I don’t have enough time… My kids will feel neglected if… I couldn’t do that… I’m not good enough… It has already been said… I’ll look stupid… People will think I’m a fruitcake… I can’t post that blog post without a picture… I don’t run a clinic, so what I have to say isn’t important… Another real expert has a blog on this, so what is one more… Homeschooling, inspiration, and nutrition science on one blog is weird… I’ve spent 42 years of my life learning to keep my mouth shut—a very hard task for me— to look smarter, so I can’t possibly open it… My grammar isn’t good enough… Sometimes I don’t eat the way I should… Of course they can do it, they have more time. They understand computers better.”)

My self-doubt has been keeping my childish pride safe, the part that wants to prove I can do it, the part that says bicycle falls hurt. The jealousy is my inner parent telling me I’m not living up to my own potential in areas that I am called to.

Are you feeling self-doubt? (No worries! So am I–for writing this post!) Are you feeling jealousy? Despite feeling content in life? Then, my friend, you have some work to do.

Get on it. YOU have a difference to make.

Terri

I Hate You

Frankly, my kids are killing me.  I don’t get it.  Why do the stories from seasoned parents come with smiles, jokes, and rolled eyes?  That’s dishonest.  Kid stories should come with rants, cursing, shrieking, sobs, and tears.  And what’s up with this?– “Oh, you’re so lucky you’re homeschooling.  You’ll avoid so many issues.”  Pft.  We can compare spec sheets if you want.  I think we’d find that despite different outward impressions, we’re working with the same vexatious operating system.

The Tricky Language

I have four daughters, two who are definitely “tweening” it.  One darling, “betwixted” daughter declared two days ago that I just have to learn the love language of “I hate you”.  (And quickly– before one of us ends up back at Granny’s house seventeen hours away.)

It’s quite a tricky language, fraught with peril.  I responded, “Anything for you, girl.” And I got right on that.  I typed out a little cheat sheet for myself of what I consider the most common phrases, showed it to my oldest daughter, and said, “Hey!  What do you think?”

I earned an A+ in my new language!  Now, I just have to practice, but with the ample opportunities, I’m sure I’ll be an expert before the day’s up.

Language Confinement

They say that certain languages are better for communicating certain ideas.  For example, medical science is usually communicated in English due to the specificity of the English language and  its words.  I don’t know, but all of my medical doctor friends from abroad tell me they studied medicine in English.  Amazing feat, eh?

I propose that tweens are dealing with language confinement.  Their language, which my daughter calls the hate language, just doesn’t have enough words and concepts to communicate effectively to us.  I can’t tell you how many times my girls have said to me when I ask them to describe how they’re feeling in a tense moment, “But I don’t know what I’m feeling!”

My girls honestly can’t express what they’re feeling.  Ugh. Trust me.  I’ve tried the active listening technique, and I sat there for over 30 minutes in silence waiting for a response.  (You have no idea how hard that was for me.)  The girls just don’t know what it is they’re feeling.  So what do they do?  They resort to their simple language of hate.  This hate language is clearly more limited in its abilities to express emotions.

Hate Language Phrases

I’ve translated some hate language phrases I hear in my house.  Sometimes a phrase might mean something slightly different, depending on the situation and daughter (see–it’s an inexact language!), but you’ll get the idea.  Stop!  Don’t bristle!  Interpret!

“I hate you.”   (Because I love you so much I don’t know how to separate myself from you.)

“It’s your fault.”  (I feel bad when I mess up but I’m so glad you try to protect me and help me and do something for me.)

“Katherine’s family is better.  (Because I want a cell phone with Snapchat and a Facebook account and to keep my phone in my room at night.)

“I hate my sister.”  (Am I okay?  I don’t feel special.  Does anyone love me for me?  I am an individual, not just a piece of this family unit.)

“Why are we always the first ones to have to leave?”  (I’m so glad you bring me to fun get-togethers.)

“You always take her side.”  (I feel so insecure.  Maybe I did pick this fight.  But I did it because for some reason I feel yucky inside and I want everyone to feel yucky–yet I want to be loved like a baby.  Why does my head feel so crazy inside, Mom?  What’s happening to me?  I can’t control how I feel anymore.)

“I need clothes.  I need camp.”  (I’m afraid I don’t fit in.  I feel so awkward.  I’m afraid I’m being left out.)

“I need you.”  (See me as a person, mom.  Make me feel special like you used to.)

Will We Laugh Too?

Ah.  Sigh.  (Big sigh.)  From poop to vomit to picking noses to the language of hate.  We parents are in it deep.  Is it funny?  I suppose looking back, when things turn out okay in the end, we’ll be able to laugh like those seasoned parents.  But seriously, I’ve seen things not turn out okay before. So although I don’t plan to stew and think I’m the controller of my kids’ destiny—which I do not believe–I’m learning that there are things I can help with as a parent and things I cannot help with.  I’m not a psychiatrist, and I’m not trained in psychology.  So please don’t use anything I write as professional advice.

But if something I write or wrote helps you not bristle and to communicate better with your tween, I am happy.  (It’s SO easy to retort to their hate language with our own hate language.) And if you know of something that helped YOU to not bristle and helped you communicate better with your tween, it’s NOT nice to NOT share.  PLEASE!  THROW ME THE ROPE!  🙂

The next post will be 12 tips on raising tweens.

You’re an awesome parent.  Don’t bristle, and let it shine.  Use your words.

Terri

How About Some True Preventative Health Knowledge?

Agar_plate_with_coloniesEvery time I get back to reading scientific studies on gut bacteria, I just get so inspired to eat whole, fresh foods (cook them if you want to!) and to pass that enthusiasm on to you.

In our guts, we have tons of bacteria (don’t blame them completely for the scale readings, though 🙂 . . .) which help us digest our food, make wonderful chemicals which help our blood sugar and mood, and which keep infections from crossing from the gut to our blood.  Plus so much more.  Tending these bacteria properly is TRUE PREVENTATIVE HEALTH.

We Don’t Deserve These Guys

What they do–it is absolutely astounding.  ASTOUNDING.  And what’s amazing is that our bodies and our bacteria hang onto our health for as long as they can for us despite the abuse we bombard them with.  Like a co-dependent spouse.  And I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough chocolate chips, white bread, and vegetable oil in my life to not deserve these poor little critters.

These bacteria really, really, really like plant matter.  Vegetables and fruits.  They like tubers too, like potatoes and sweet potatoes.  They even seem to like whole grains–NOT ground up, processed, and refined flours.

Unstick The Stuck Pin

So, fill yourself up on these plant products.  And if you can’t tolerate them, find a few you can tolerate.  Work on your health some (stress, relationships, sleep, wise supplementation, food sensitivities, sugar load, physical activity, getting some outside time, and making better all-around food choices). Then try to introduce some more!

Promise yourself you won’t stay stuck in life.  Unstick your stuck!  Promise yourself you’ll make the choices to eat more whole, real food (cut how you want, cooked how you want, combined how you like!).  We all have different styles–some dive in with all their heart.  Some move slowly and steadily.  But move to that place you want to be.

No one else will do it for you.

Personify Those Bacteria!

Sometimes, when I’ve been derailed from eating how I feel best, I think something really goofy. As I’m going to the cupboard or fridge, I start thinking about those super beneficial gut bacteria striving to be healthy off of what I eat–thereby keeping me healthy too!  Working SO hard, just struggling to get by.  The grind.

“Ah, I think.  I love those little guys.  They try to be so good to me.”  (Personification at its finest.)  And I ask myself, “Would my helpful little crew like this peanut butter with those chocolate chips?  That gluten-free bread?  Or would they prefer this peanut butter with that apple?”  Apple it is in this moment, then.

I can do this.  One better choice at a time–and I get back to my groove.

You can too.

Have a great day (a great weekend!), and I’m plugging along on a new butyrate post for those who like that kind of stuff.

Terri

PS:  I know not all of you have the luxury of being able to eat all the healthy foods due to various intolerances, but for all you can do, don’t stay stuck.

Is that Massachusetts?

You don’t need to know your states to be a medical doctor.

“Are you ready for your states identification test?” I challenged my homeschooled daughter.

“Kind of. . . sometimes I forget the little states,” she bashfully replied.

Ha!  So do I!  And how to spell them too!  You don’t need to know your states to get through medical school.  I know.  Not where Masachusetts is.  (No.  Massachusetts.)  Not that, although this week I learned that too.  But I know that you can get through medical school not knowing which one’s New Hampshire and which one’s Vermont.  Even if you’ve been there.

Knowledge gaps exist.  When I started homeschooling seven years ago, I told myself I would remedy those gaps.  My children would not have the gaps I had coming out of school. Everything I wanted to learn and didn’t, I would pour onto them.  Beautifully, life smashes your nose up, puts dark hair where it doesn’t belong, and creates a new face for you.

THEN, you’re CoverGirl material.

A Mothering Question

Today I asked myself a question as I was unloading the dishwasher.  Strangely, I never thought to ask myself this question before today.

Would I want myself for a mother?

Why?  Why not?

I’m off to think on this some more.  I don’t think I’ll ask my kids this question.  I’ll just chew on it myself.  Have an absolutely beautiful day, from this moment forward.

Terri