We talk a lot about how moms lead their families; how moms are responsible for making the kind of decisions that lead to better and healthier living for our families. This is true to a certain extent for our family, but I also want to admit–out loud and to everyone who reads this post–that I have learned a lot about eating from my daughter.
My daughter Olivia is six. When I was pregnant with her, she was the reason I started eating well after years of eating queso, Pop-Tarts, and drinking whiskey. Sometimes all at the same time. I went off coffee cold turkey and endured the excruciating migraines with a smile, because she was–in a way–teaching me to eat well.
Then, two years after her birth, Olivia began having dreadful sinus infections, and ear infections that kept her chained to a constant string of antibiotics. She was miserable. I was terrified. My husband felt helpless and powerless. My sister, who is a teacher, was afraid that the constant earaches were affecting her hearing and thus her development. We went with ear tubes but our amazing pediatrician took me aside before the surgery.
“If you want to be proactive, let’s look at changing her diet. I want to have her tested for allergies.”
She referred us to an excellent ENT and we learned that Liv had sensitivities to soy, wheat, and dairy. As a family, we made the decision to stop eating these foods. We researched whole foods and alternate grains. We learned about almond milk and rice milk. During these years, our immune systems strengthened and we hardly ever got colds, allergies, or the flu. But it was a very inconvenient way to live, and I had to be constantly vigilant.
Until you have a child with food allergies, you don’t realize how much food plays into our lives. Olivia would come down with a terrible case of diarrhea and I would have to call the school and backtrack every activity they’d done in the past few days–and usually would find that they were given cookies or goldfish crackers and Liv had been permitted to join in. The teacher would say, “What? I didn’t know it had wheat or dairy…” and I would roll my eyes and insist that they only feed Liv food from home.
In time her allergies abated and we went back to eating regular food. My weight boomed. And yet, Olivia remains a frugal and cautious eater to this day. It’s almost as though all those years of thinking about food made her an extremely conscientious eater. She turns up her nose at all dairy except cheeses and yogurt. She adores raw broccoli, peppers, and apples. She will occasionally eat sweets, but stops after one treat–with a wave of her little hand and a majestic “No thank you. I don’t wish to get a tummy ache.” Her major vice is pop corn–but unsalted and unbuttered.
I try to lead my family, it’s true. But my daughter Olivia–besides being WHY I want to eat well–is also the reason I CAN eat well. She also leads by example–and I am proud to follow.
I am truly honored to be one of the Mamavation Mom finalists and look forward to learning more about healthy lifestyle changes from my leaders and my Sistahs.