You’re going to believe in love at first sight the day you look down and see your newborn child looking right back up at you. A newfound purpose to your life overcomes you, as you stare at this delicate child safely swaddled in your arms. You become overwhelmed with an instant sense of maturity and responsibility.
Yes, this newborn is your responsibility. And your forthcoming behavior will be dictated by a balance of fear and love-- fear of doing the wrong thing and undying love for what you have just brought into this world. But you’re prepared. You have read the books and magazines, taken the classes, asked your friends and family members who already have children, researched online, and are motivated to make sure your infant is either breastfed or given formula every few hours, gets enough sleep so it can grow up big and strong, and is given as much tender loving care as possible. You’ve modified your own eating habits over the past 9 months with regular doctor visits, taking prenatal vitamins, eliminating artificial chemicals, processed deli meats and high mercury fish, caffeine, alcohol, and other foods that could make you sick or harm the health of your unborn child. For the sake of this blog post, we’ll refer to your child as Jennifer.
During Jennifer’s infancy, you diligently monitor every ingredient that she ingests as well as monitor Jennifer’s bowel movements to ensure proper digestion and elimination of those nutrients. As Jennifer transitions from breast milk or formula to food, you slowly introduce certain types of food and monitor her reaction to those foods.
Yet something bizarre happens during a child’s first birthday party-- the magical birthday cake. The 1st birthday cake is typically the turning point that leads to the demise of a child’s nutrition. As parents, you’re so excited to be celebrating the first year of Jennifer’s life and that you made it without too many hiccups. After singing an off-key round of “Happy Birthday,” Jennifer has her first ever bite of cake. Everyone is having so much fun taking pictures to post on Facebook and Instagram. As parents, you look at each other and think, “Well, Jennifer looks so happy, isn’t crying, she didn’t immediately get sick… so guess the occasional dessert is ok… right?”
And Birthday cake is simply the “gateway drug.” You start incorporating desserts as a way to connect to Jennifer and as a treat to simply instantly make her happy. The instant response you receive from Jennifer is in the form of a smile, a laugh, and crazy excitement over desserts and junk food. And once Jennifer starts talking and asking for treats with cute little words like “pizza” or “ice cream…” everything changes.
From here, you start to give into freewill, mass marketing, and peer pressure. Freewill: Jennifer starts asking for desserts and junk food or she refuses to eat healthy foods anymore and you give into her manipulative games; albeit crying, throwing a tantrum, refusing to eat, or Jennifer’s precious little puppy dog eyes batting at you with words like “pppppplease?” You begin to justify this rapid change in how you feed your child with thoughts like, “Jennifer is picky and she doesn’t like vegetables” or “it costs too much to eat healthy” or “I don’t have time to cook.” Simultaneously, you’re being both consciously and subconsciously influenced by advertisements for processed, packaged convenient foods being made with whole grains, fortified with certain vitamins and minerals, low in sugar or fat”, “high in fiber or protein”, or just plain fun-- with free toys included with each meal. And then there’s peer pressure. From Grandparents who want to show their love for Jennifer in the form of treats like ice cream, candy, and cookies, to Jennifer’s friends who all eat fast food and junk food, to your friends and family who all think you are being fanatical if you don’t let Jennifer eat pizza or ice cream every time you’re together.
As long as you continue to primarily feed your kids abusive foods that upset their body chemistry, there is no amount of exercise or combination of magic pills that will make your kids happy, healthy, and successful.
So enough guilt, as feeling guilty and helpless will get you nowhere on the road to creating a healthy household. It’s time to unveil the secrets to what I call Zootrition™. Zootrition™ is about becoming aware of what mother nature intended us to eat by examining what the rest of the animal kingdom is doing right, studying the history of where we as humans went wrong, and discovering how to fit these principles into our children’s 21st Century on-the-go lifestyles. It’s not about being perfect, but about establishing healthy staple foods that nourish your child and allow him/her to achieve their best life possible.
So what’s the difference between kids and adults? I can answer that in 3 words: excuses, excuses, and yes you guessed it, excuses. Whether you want to look better, feel better, or have more energy-- living a healthy lifestyle is about dropping the excuses and replacing them with healthy habits. The good news is, it doesn’t take an extreme makeover or a total transformation. Simply dropping out one bad habit and replacing it with something good over time makes all the difference. The best part is, you don’t need to be perfect. It’s all about improving your quality of life one bite at a time. So focus on your foundational foods and enjoy the occasional treat with you family guilt-free.