There are times that I feel like the worst naturopath ever. Like when I leave work and grab a bag of chips for the bus ride home. Or, the fact that I haven’t done any true exercise in… let’s just say a long time. But then I remind myself that life is a giant balancing act and raising two kids, working an opposite schedule from my husband and running a practice are heavy weights to balance out. And, then I remind myself about all of the great things that I do – kale in my protein shakes in the morning, meditating regularly, healthy meals for my family and taking my adrenal support regularly for the past six months (a personal record).
This is also my approach to my family’s diet — the great balancing out the not so great.
Here are some of our not so great family habits:
- Grandparent/great uncle rules. My in laws and my uncle help out regularly with child care. And, when they are here — they make the rules. So, that means french fries for lunch every Wednesday for my three year old, way more TV than I let them watch on Thursdays when my MIL is here, and chips/chocolates on Sundays while we watch How It’s Made at family dinner.
- Treats. We have crappy treats as appropriate. Cupcakes at birthday parties, Halloween treats (for two days only), gelato in the summer, and Kinder Eggs when the begging gets the better of me. But, that’s exactly what they are — treats.
- Popcorn and chips. I’m just going to lay my cards on the table. I have a problem when it comes to chips and popcorn. If unchecked, I can eat waaaayyyyy too much. Once I open a bag, I’m not stopping until I get to the bottom. People who own chip clips mystify me. And for that reason, we can’t keep these kinds of treats in the house. But, every once in a while a bag will sneak into our house and we all partake. My only rule is no MSG so we tend to go with the more “healthy” brands.
- Take-out. At least a few times a month I either forget to plan dinner or am too tired to make it. So we order in — pizza/wings, Vietnamese, Indian, Thai or Sushi. My kids have a fairly adventurous palate.
- Bagels. I’m a Jewish girl from Montreal. Bagels are in my blood, and my kids have definitely inherited it. My son will drop hints for days until we all go to Kettleman’s and buy a dozen. They also love watching the bakers make the bagels.
- Sunday morning breakfasts. When I was a kid, I loved going out for breakfast with my dad. He instilled in me a great love of diners and good homefries. We have a neighbourhood diner that we go to a couple of times a month. Breakfast is eggs and bacon, or pancakes. Not a healthy morsel on the plate.
And, here are some of the things that I do that I think are pretty awesome:
- Almost all of our meals are made from scratch. We use very little processed food at home. Both my husband and I love to cook and the kids help in the kitchen. They see that everyone is responsible for making healthy food.
- Fruits or veggies are served with every meal. Even when it’s pizza day at school. We also go shopping as a family so the kids have a say in which fruits and vegetables we buy each week.
- Limited dairy. My kids get real cheese a few times a week and we occasionally have organic yogurt or goat’s yogurt in the refrigerator. But, for the most part they have soy/coconut/almond milks, Yoso coconut yogurt and Daiya shredded “cheese” on pizza and in sandwiches.
- Very limited juice. My kids see juice the way that I saw soft drinks as a kid. For special occasions only. We bought juice boxes for my son’s birthday party and he spent an entire week agonizing over which flavour to have.
- Sprouted grains. Our breads and pasta are made from multi sprouted grains. These are easier to digest than regular ones. My kids are also exposed to lots of different grains other than just wheat: brown rice, wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat, etc…
- Delayed sugar introduction. My son didn’t have any added sugar until he was two. I knew that eventually he’d have some, but I really wanted him to develop his palate without overly sweet inputs. With my daughter, who is younger, it was harder, since her brother was getting the occasional treat, but she definitely had less than most other kids.
- Organic meat as much as possible. Luckily, Costco has made this, financially, much more reasonable than it used to be.
- Yoga and meditation. My kids love to do yoga. They do Cosmic Kids Yoga regularly. It gives them strength and flexibility as well as focuses on breath and stillness. We also regularly do meditations before bed, usually the free Kids and Family meditations in the OMG I Can Meditate app.
- Immune support. My kids take probiotics, vitamin D and a fish oil all year long. In the fall and winter I add a few extras. When they are sick they get herbs and homeopathics. They are so used to awful tasting herbs that they will both take an Andrographis tincture that I can’t get half of my adult patients to take because it tastes so gross. They’ve also never had Tylenol (or Advil). We’ve supported teething and fevers naturally and I believe that’s one of the reasons that they have the strong constitutions that they do.
So, that’s my balancing act. It’s not perfect but everyone is happy, healthy and sane. And right now, that’s everything that I could ask for.