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You Are (Responsible For) What You Eat -Part 3-An Update on Shane and What to Do When Your Family is Not on Board

Several months ago a big change happened in our family, well, several big changes, but this one kind of came out of no where. I say “kind of” because I knew it might happen, eventually, but hoped it wouldn’t. What happened, you ask? I. Have. Teenagers. And teenagers have minds of their own. They have their own ideas, and they like to assert independence (which they should, as painful as that may be). So, back to the point, Shane decided he no longer wants to be gluten-free. Oh.

At first I was puzzled, I knew there was a lot of influence from his friends and at this age (nearing 15), he does not want to be different, he wants to fit in. I get it. But, doesn’t he remember why we did this? How we got to this point? How terrible it was? I asked him these questions, thinking that having “reminder days” (like I have) would help him stay the course, but he doesn’t remember. He has been gluten-free since the end of his first grade year. Seven years. And his memory before that doesn’t include all the symptoms he had. (You can read more about his story here.)

He doesn’t remember the early years when he was severely constipated, and all the things we tried to alleviate it. He doesn’t remember the extensive dental work he had done on his baby teeth, at 3 and 4 years old, because they were decaying. He vaguely remembers some broken bones and having casts, from things like small falls, that shouldn’t have resulted in fractures. And he doesn’t remember his first grade year, of a normally very active child, being lethargic, having painful stomach aches after almost every time he ate, and of the constant fidgeting in his body, because it was painful in his hands and feet to stay still. He doesn’t remember all the grief I endured from the people around me, telling me I was doing it wrong. He doesn’t remember these things, but I do. I remember them just like they were yesterday.

I’ve tried to remind him of some things, to seemingly no avail. I have given him some things to watch out for. Symptoms that will indicate that he needs to choose more carefully. Things like extreme tiredness and fatigue, joint injuries and broken bones, problems with his teeth, and of course digestive issues (which will probably be the last to occur in this series, at least that’s how it went before).

Now, as he enters high school, he’s choosing to eat gluten again. It’s his choice. He doesn’t remember and has to find out for himself. I so wish to protect him from all of these things. Many times recently, I’ve wanted to take him and wrap him in bubble wrap, but I can’t. He’s getting older, maturing (working on it), and asserting his independence. I don’t have to like it, but this is something he has to choose for himself.

In these last 7 years he has grown, strengthened, and thrived. It has not been easy, but we have done it, and I would do it all over again.

*I asked his permission before sharing this information about him.  🙂

                                 

 


What to Do When Your Family is Not On Board With Healthy Eating

It’s nice when you have children. They look up to you. They think you’re smart. They think you have good ideas. They know you’re there to help them. They eat the food you make them, without much complaint. Enter teenagers. They do the exact opposite of whatever you say. They think you’re an idiot. They think you’re weird. They think you’re trying to ruin their lives. They don’t like anything you make.

If you have kids that have not yet entered into this, enjoy it, it doesn’t last.

So, what do you do when your family is not on board with eating healthy? This can even include a spouse. I’ve thought a lot about this, because this has become my daily life. I eat actual food, because I need to in order to function properly. I don’t do this perfectly, but I stick pretty close. So here are some things that I do to encourage healthier eating habits in our household, without resorting to constant lecturing (although, there is a place for lectures, and my family has had their fair share 😉 ).

  1. Cook. It is automatically healthier for food to come from my kitchen, then from a restaurant. This doesn’t stop them from eating out (especially if they drive and have their own money), but having food available at home and ready at a certain time, increases the likelihood of them eating it. I stick with a pretty basic menu of protein, vegetables, fat and carbs. Even if they have tater tots or french fries with their dinner, I know I’ve gotten something nutritious into their bodies.
  2. Always have healthy snacks available. Even if they have junk food that they’ve bought themselves or that someone else (like a spouse) has brought into the house, having healthy snacks available gives them the opportunity to make a better choice. Things like fruit, cut up veggies, and some type of dip (peanut butter, cream cheese, guacamole, ranch dressing-there are healthier ranch options) are great to keep on hand. If I cut up fruit or veggies for myself, I always offer some to my family, because they are more likely to eat something if they don’t have to do anything but put it in their mouth (I have boys, they eat constantly).
  3. Teach them how to cook. My kids know how to boil water, use the oven, and they know how to make eggs. They may know a few other things, but those are the basics. If they’re really hungry and are home and can’t find anything ‘quick and easy’ to fix, they usually end up making eggs. Eggs are a great choice.
  4. Encourage good choices. When they do make good choice regarding food, say something, but don’t make too big of a deal about it.
  5. Give honest answers. When they have questions about food, or anything really, give an honest answer and if you don’t know the answer, find out. This can range from questions like “What can I eat when I’m getting muscle cramps, not feeling good,etc.?” to “How can I increase my muscles and lift more weight?”
  6. Let them make their own choices about food. They aren’t toddlers or little kids anymore. They have to be able to make their own choices and deal with the consequence of that choice, good or bad. You can share information, but only to a point. It is their choice what food they eat. They are responsible for their choices now.
  7. Pick your battles. Every meal or snack cannot be a battle of wills. It will end poorly. Refer to #6. I draw the line at things I will or will not buy for them, but if they are able to buy it for themselves or talk someone else into buying it, there’s nothing I can do. I never buy them energy drinks (and I strongly discourage them), and I never buy instant noodles (which we always called Top Ramen). You might have different things you’re not willing to buy, but those are my main things.
  8. Concede, where you can. I don’t eat out a lot, but when I can, I do, for the sake of my family, and it’s nice to do every once in a while. There’s not a lot of places I can eat out, but there are a few. Sometimes this means there’s only a couple of things I can choose from to eat, but I don’t mind doing that. Sometimes it means getting only a drink and either bringing something along, or finding something to eat elsewhere.
  9. Sneak it in, if you can, where you can. Are they eating a crappy piece of bread, well, they can at least use good, grass-fed butter on it. Add extra veggies to pasta sauces or casseroles. Make a dessert with whole foods or a smoothie and have them try it, they’ll either think it’s disgusting or they’ll want some. Are they sick with a cold, or stomach bug? Make them some bone broth. They’ll start requesting it. Whenever you can get nourishment into their bodies, do it.
  10. Be an example. I think this is probably the most important point. I don’t know if my kids will someday eat well. If they will eat real, whole, nourishing foods. I hope and pray they will. But I do know if they can see healthy eating lived out in front of them, they are more likely to incorporate those habits in the future, even if right now they don’t think I know what I’m talking about.

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“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Matthew 4:4

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