In case you haven’t caught on throughout this four week partnership with SPUD.ca, I am passionate about food. Real food. The kind that you grow on a farm, raise in the wild and cook over a fire. A lot of it has to do with health, but to be honest, a lot of it just has to do with the fact that I LOVE to eat and when you eat as much as I do, you become acutely aware of what you are putting into your body and how it affects your overall well-being. I mentioned in a previous post that while I hope to live a long life I do not eat well simply to push the limitations of my own mortality. After all, we don’t know what our future holds, nor do we know how many days we have left on this earth. Anything can happen but what I do know is that I want to live each and every day that I have left to it’s absolute fullest and a HUGE part of that fullness can be attributed to health. Health is what keeps our joints limber, our muscles strong, our brains sharp and our hearts happy.
Many of us are ignorant to how much what we eat affects how we feel and our day-to-day functioning. Giulia Enders writes about this connection in her book, Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. She says,
“Cooperation between the gut and the brain begins very early in life. Together they are responsible for a large proportion of our emotional world when we are babies. We love the pleasant feeling of a full stomach, get terribly upset when we are hungry, or grizzle and moan with wind. Familiar people feed, change, and burp us. It’s palpably clear that our infant self consists of the gut and the brain. As we get older, we increasingly experience the world through our senses…But the connection between the gut and the brain does not disappear overnight, it simply becomes more refined. A gut that does not feel good might now subtly affect our mood, and a healthy, well-nourished gut can discreetly improve our sense of well-being.”
In regards to intolerances such as to gluten, she notes that
“Many people notice their sensitivity when they swear off gluten for a week or two and see an improvement in their general well-being. Suddenly their digestive problems or flatulence clears up, or they have fewer headaches, or less painful joints. Some people find that their powers of concentration improve, or that they are less plagued by tiredness or fatigue.”
Similar affects pertain to Fructose intolerance.
“When there is so much fructose in our gut that most of it cannot be absorbed into the blood and we lose that sugar, we also lose the tryptophan attached to it. Tryptophan, for its part, is needed by the body to produce serotonin – a neurotransmitter that gained fame as the happiness hormone after it was discovered that a lack of it can cause depression.”(64)
She goes on to talk about how
“Irritable bowel syndrome is often characterized by an unpleasant bloated feeling or gurgling in the abdomen, and a susceptibility to diarrhea or constipation. Sufferers also have an above-average incidence of anxiety or depressive disorders.”(132)
I certainly know this to be true. In college, I suffered from various digestive ailments. Food sensitivities that I once had as a baby returned and new sensitivities surfaced. It was also during that time that I became quite depressed and would often have varying degrees of anxiety attacks. I’m not saying that by adjusting your diet you can cure depression or other mental disorders but I am saying that by maintaining a healthy diet, you can improve your overall well-being.
Enders makes the point that the latest gut research causes a cautious questioning of the philosophical proposition, “I think, therefore I am.”
We are not as attune to our bodies however, as we used to be because we have “fix-it” drugs. When we get a headache, we don’t ask, “why do I have a headache?” We just take a painkiller. When we have indigestion, “we don’t ask why do I have a tummy ache?” We just pop a Tums, or chug some Pepto-Bismol. We don’t talk about health. This needs to change.
I want my kids to be the best version of themselves. I want them to live to their full, happy, healthy potential. I want them to learn how to make healthy choices and the best way to teach them is first, by being a good example, and second by talking about it.
Here are 4 strategies to engage your kids in a little healthy conversation.
Let them make choices around what they eat.
Kids feel empowered and important when they are not simply dictated to but rather are asked for their opinion. Asking them what they want for dinner may not get you to the place you want to go, but why not try asking, “What vegetable do you want for supper?” SPUD.ca makes this easy with online ordering. They can sit with you and pick their favourites without all the distractions of the supermarket.
Problem solve pain.
Instead of getting out the Tylenol anytime a child is irritable try to problem solve the pain. We do this a lot in our house. My son will say he has a tummy ache and then we will retrace our steps, recounting what he ate in the past 24 hours. Nine times out of ten we find the culprit – well, yes, eating a whole bag of fishy crackers would give you a tummy ache, wouldn’t it. Let’s start with drinking some peppermint tea to aid digestion or for nausea, ginger tea.
Nutritional guides can be tricky as my son demonstrated when he pointed out that the bag of Doritos has vitamin D. That being said, it was a good opportunity to explain saturated fats, sodium and artificial colour and flavouring. In my opinion, the more important part of that label is the ingredients. What is in it? Is the first ingredient sugar? What does it mean when it is the first ingredient? How many ingredients are there and can you pronounce them all?
Water, Corn Syrup and 2% Less of Each of the Following: Concentrated Juices (Orange, Tangerine, Apple, Lime, Grapefruit, Pear), Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, (Vitamin C), Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Natural Flavors, Modified Cornstarch, Canola Oil, Sodium Citrate, Cellulose Gum, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Neotame, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, Potassium Sorbate to Protect Flavor, Yellow 5, Yellow 6.
Now, ingredients in Happy Plant’s Organic Valencia Orange Juice: Water, Concentrated Orange Juice.
Maybe your mom’s not the best…
Talk about where your food comes from.
Finally, make a food connection. Part of loving food is loving the ordinary miracle that it is. From farm to table, there is magic and mystery in growing the vegetables or raising the cattle that gives us life and makes us well. No one knows the wonder more than a child.
**It’s true, SPUD does give me grocery credit for being a SPUD Ambassador but all thoughts and opinions are my own. I have been a SPUD customer for the better part of seven years.**