I consider myself a laid back mama. Actually, I'm so much so that my sisters pick on me about it (although I contest they may hover). I'll admit, my kids might look like 'ragamuffins' if you popped into my house unexpectedly, and you might have to step over items to get through my house. I usually go back to the mantra "a little dirt/cold/bumps/mess won't hurt them". On the contrary, I actually think all of those things will help them. Believe it or not, anti-bacterial soaps don't help your immune system. Going outside in their own choice of clothing helps them learn cause and effect, awareness of how they feel and the world around them, how to solve a problem (really, if you're chilly, you don't need mommy to tell you to get a jacket). Challenging physical feats are how they grow and learn coordination. I let them try anything they can, even if that means we'll reap the messy results. I figure the house, their clothes, their hands, it all will clean! Even cleaning up your own mess is a pretty good learning experience. Letting them try to pour their own juice means that now they know how. And besides all of those learning benefits, I think the biggest benefit is the freedom they have to be and do without mommy panicking behind their shoulder.
You know what does make me crazy though? Food.
In the realm of food I don't know how to be a health conscious and simultaneously calm mother. Sugar, preservatives, pollutants, chemicals... how do you avoid these?? And then, how do I do that and stay true to my environmental and ethical ideals? Oh yeah, and be carefree. Right.
In theory, I agree with being either vegan, or following the 'paleo' diet. You know what vegans eat; no meat, fish, dairy products, or eggs. Paleo is a diet following what our pre-agriculture ancestors ate. Meat (including eggs), veggies, and a little bit of fruit. No grains, dairy, or processed food in general. The theory is that our bodies have not evolved as quickly as our food methods have. Grains (and tubers like potatoes) have to be cooked to be edible, because they contain 'lectins', poisons that need to be killed. The problem is, there are still leftover lectins afterwards, not to mention that gigantic problem of the chemical cocktail added during preserving and processing.
Ethically and environmentally I'm on board with vegans. I don't like animals captive and farmed for food, I do believe they have feelings, and you probably know the environmental issues animal farming causes. However, I think meat, eggs, and especially fish can be valuable healthful foods, if we could somehow avoid the steriod injected, hormone pumped, environmentally polluted and abused variety. I agree nutritionally with paleo, that grains and dairy just aren't meant for our bodies yet, a probable explanation as to why so many people have obvious allergies to these two and such issues as lactose intollerance and celiac disease. The first thing a naturopathic doctor will do when consulted for most maladies, small, large, behaviour problems? Eliminate grains, dairy, and sugars from your diet.
Mysterious diseases like cancer are more than likely caused by the trace-toxins buildup in our foods, everyday products, and environment. Since the advent of mass production and industrialization we are surrounded by toxins, from our shampoos, cleansers, lotions, home cleaning products to the fabrics of our clothes and furnishings, mattresses, bedding, carpets, building supplies, cars, plastics in our dishes, toys, paints... exhale... Check out http://www.lesstoxicguide.ca/ for some help sifting through that pile of crazy!
So that virtually leaves me with veggies, and fruit for dessert. Sounds filling eh? Did I mention I'm allergic to nuts? Another problem with any vegetarian thoughts I might entertain.
When I combine my indecision on which nutrition path to follow and my inambition/horrible skills in all matters kitchen, I feel more than a little stressed. My gut (aka only choice left) tells me moderation is key. I can start at the grocery store, because if it comes home with you, you will eat it. I also try to follow my "Just eat real food" mantra. The closer it is to the field, the better it is for you (local is better than imported, fresh is better than frozen, frozen is better than canned or boxed). I consider grains a necessary evil, a 'filler' food, and try to stick to veggies, a bit of fruit, and choose the best selection of meat I can. Just a note on grains, did you know the american food guide is designed by the Department of Agriculture? Considering the vast amounts of grains grown on our continent, the bias of the author is an important factor, as usual.
This leaves me with sugar that I feel I can actually attack. I don't like to eliminate it entirely, the kids won't learn their own methods of self-control that way and we really like ice-cream! Also, in our bodies defense, it is designed to properly discard of small amounts of the bad stuff. But sugar is addictive, for me as much as my children, and I find if I let the kids have a little they want a lot. Sugar causes a lot of fights in our house and makes me be the kind of mom I don't want to be. It goes against all of my laidback mothering instincts. I feel like I have to constantly monitor their sugar intake, find myself constantly counting grams of sugar in my head, and drilling them to be aware of what they're eating. I don't want to drive them into rebellion or worse, an eating disorder. I try to do better with replacement treats like real fruit freezies and frozen yogurt, or switching out the sugar in my coffee for honey, a natural sugar our body knows how to break down. For Easter, for example, we only hide a small amount of fruit gummies in a lot of eggs for the Easter egg hunt and we've ditched the gross chocolate bunnies altogether in favor of yummy fruit baskets. We all love that!
For special events and holidays I have always chosen to throw my hands up, let them be carefree, and realize it's just one day. Lately though I've been thinking just how often these dates happen. The kids health is not something I should choose to monitor sometimes. But I don't like being that crazy mom, I hate being so strict! Recently I found myself arguing with my mother in law about the kids drinking juice boxes hand over fist while we visit there. She was frustrated with me too, and said "I wish you could tell me what they can drink." Well, milk, and water. And the kids will be mad about it for sure. And I'll feel like the can't bend the rules, strict brick wall parent that I don't want to be, I'll feel bad about being such a pain in the ass hovering mom to be around, and worse, my mother in-law will feel like even though she tried and sought out the 100% juice, that nothing is good enough for me.
See why food makes me crazy? I don't have an answer that feels good. The whole topic just fills me with doubt and indecision and angst about the direction our whole world is headed. It's too overwhelming. And then I give up and feel guilty while we scarf timbits. Ughh.
It's a lot of food for thought.