Of course we know: it’s health.
Without it, we have nothing. And yet somehow, for many of us, it is a real struggle to prioritize. Too often we wait until a crisis hits. And here’s the truth.
It is always, but always, better to avoid a crisis.
And here’s the second truth.
Attending to your health, and living your life in accordance with promoting and protecting your health can be all about loving your life. Your food. Your activity level. Your relationships. Your peace of mind. Everything. You can, and will LOVE it all.
When considering what I was going to write this month, I wanted to steer this topic toward our children specifically. And I still do. But as I began to write I realized I wanted to begin with YOU. Because the fact is we are our childrens greatest teacher (and I say that on the scale of humanity – all of us hold the responsibility of being the greatest teacher, the greatest example to all children, regardless of whether we have any of our own). In plain and simple terms they will do what you do. Which is why I smoked as a teenager (because my mum chain-smoked and sub-consciously taught me to do the same). Fortunately I quit by the time I was 21.
The greatest gift you can give your children is the gift of health. Period. This begins by looking at what you are providing them to eat, the habits you have, for better or worse, taught them, and taking honest inventory on what needs to be changed. You will all benefit, without question, so it’s more than worth looking at and making a systematic plan on changing what needs to be changed, creating new healthier habits and teaching them to connect the dots between how they feel and what they are eating/how they are living.
I readily acknowledge this is not easy for most. You definitely have a way head start if your child is a couple months old and hasn’t started eating solid food yet. Bravo. In under the wire. Those who are already in the grips of sub-optimal habits, do not lose hope. You can absolutely turn this thing around. And you have to. Begin by calling it out, involving them in the conversation, the process. Let them be heard. Expose them to media, articles, films – there’s a lot out there. More and more children are getting vocal and active in this subject – find those resources, your children will be inspired and engaged and readily relate.
It has to be gradual and systematic. Change one thing at a time, and as much as possible focus on what you are going to introduce as opposed to what you are taking out. For example. We all benefit from eating LOTS and I mean LOTS of vegetables. So begin there. Start making vegetables more of a feature on your plate. Start to look to vegetables as somewhat of an organizing principle around which you build your plate.
There are absolutely ways to change the way your kids eat. I cannot promise it will be easy, but then nothing worthwhile is. You have to commit and think both outside the box and ahead. Get them involved. Start a little vegetable garden (or a couple of pots on your deck). Give them their own little garden/pot and don’t control it. Get them in the kitchen. Yes it will get messy – so what (I admit this was hard for me 😉 ). This is how you get them interested and engaged. This is how you teach them to take the time to prepare their own healthy delicious food and not become lazy and reliant on take-away, fast-non-food options. I definitely went through a period of moderate resistance from my son when he began to realize that not everyone ate the way we eat. What I was serving was never negotiable but I did, at times, give him a choice before I started cooking (at most only between 2 things – never more). I did this for two reasons (at least). The most important for me was to empower him. Children have precious few things they can control in their own lives. So when I could offer him a choice between what was for breakfast, lunch or dinner I would (and still) do that. And of course, I was happy with both choices, so when I served what he chose he was as delighted to eat it because he chose it, and I was because it was health-forward. There was a while there where I was that parent saying “well sweetie, this is what there Is tonight – so it’s up to you. But I can tell you its delicious and you’ll enjoy it”. And he did. He NEVER skipped a meal because of a protest. (It’s a toss up who enjoys to eat more, him or me).
And now? He’s of late, very into proclaiming my prowess as a cook, and his love of everything I make. I need to underscore that there’s no suffering going on here – the food really is delicious, wholesome, real food and that’s the newsflash – health-forward food can and should taste absolutely fabulous and make you feel just as fabulous as well. And it can and should be s I m p l e and easy to prepare. For me at least, those days of spending an afternoon in the kitchen preparing a bouillabaisse or risotto from scratch are in the distant past (but hopefully will be revisited at some point?).
Perhaps your first new years resolution is to prioritize your family’s health (starting with your own). I am here to help you, if you need. What you eat changes everything. How you feel, how you think, how you move, how you relate. Everything. Don’t underestimate the power of a healthy diet/lifestyle to change your life. It is in many ways, the only thing that really will.
Here’s to a brilliant Holiday season and New Year overflowing with hope, health and happiness. And a commitment to move forward in ways that shine our light brightly for our children to follow and look up to.