Friday, February 03, 2006

A lifetime of health

Finding a balance for my children's health is certainly a challenge. I frequently encounter families who allow their children to put all kids of chemicals, preservatives, and other harmful things from their food into their little bodies. Then there are some who forbid any sugar or anything not organic. While this is in and of itself a good idea, a person could spend all their time and money on living organically. Surely there must be a reasonable balance.

I want my children to make good choices when they get older and throughout their lives and not just now as small children with me lurking in the background, aware of nearly everything they ingest. I strongly believe that a good balance now is imperative for them to make the right choices when they are adolescents and adults.

I had a good start on my healthy journey throughout life, with no sugar and without most types of harmful food additives. My mom, a nurse convinced of the value of vitamins, teamed up with our neighbor, a hippie lady from California with expertise in the use of just about every type of herb on the planet, or at least those that can be grown in the area. They ganged up against us kids and as a result we were as young children familiar with herbs like comfrey, lobelia and aloe vera along with what vitamins are to be taken for certain symptoms. All good things, but along with that, sweet treats were simply not allowed.

The backlash from all this good, healthy childhood eating was that as soon as I was able, I bought and consumed all the candy, chocolate, chips, and other sugar- and preservative-laden foods I could get my hands on. This continued for years, up until around the time I got pregnant with my first child a little more than seven years ago. Out of concern mainly for my children's health, I've reverted to the eating habits of my childhood but with some sweets allowed.

I want to strike a balance for my children. For the most part we eat healthy foods but sometimes stuff like processed sugary foods are allowed as a treat. We make it clear that it is a treat but enjoying them is most certainly not forbidden.

From all of this I want them to grasp the lesson that sweets are treats that are fine to be enjoyed on occasion but that our overall diet should consist of fruits, vegetables and other fresh foods. I don't think it's healthy to completely forbid a certain food. I think more good can be accomplished by allowing some non-healthy treats so that they won't go overboard later. I sure hope I'm right.

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