Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Food Effect

One day there was a fit over a pair of shorts and a tantrum because the bagels were gone. The next day there was a meltdown over a request to walk the dog and clean up a bedroom. And, then a proclamation: "I don't love myself. I'm dumb."

That was one tough week for Julie. And we just couldn't figure out why life seemed so miserable for our 8-year-old. She was excelling in school. She had just rocked it at a recent dance recital. She has plenty of friends, and she was not lacking for fun or exciting. (We had just gone indoor skydiving that week.)

Then, Scott and I had an epiphany. The food. Life was hectic recently, and we had been eating like crap. There was a visit from friends, frequent restaurant meals, Easter, a string of birthday parties, and overall just not great eating.

We know better than this. For some reason, food affects Julie tremendously. She's one of the healthiest 8-year-olds we know, but when we, as parents slip up, and start letting the junk in, it all goes down hill.

We were done. No more muffins or waffles for breakfast. No more after dinner trips for ice cream. And definitely no more restaurant food. Back to real food for us. Within a week, I'm not kidding, Julie's attitude was completely different. She went from angry, sad and defiant to completely helpful, sweet and kind. Every evening she told us about her day at school, and willingly played her piano, did her homework and completed her chores. She was like a different little girl. One night at dinner I asked if she felt different when she ate better. "Yup. I just feel happier," she told me.

Healthy eating has always been an important part of parenting for Scott and me. From the time Julie was born, we knew we wanted to raise healthy, adventurous eaters. But, we didn't quite realize how important this was, or that food affects so much more than just weight and fitness.

It's ironic--because our little return to whole food eating came around the time my good friend Lindsey hosted an awesome Food Revolution Day festival in Lake Zurich. She organized workshops, seminars, giveaways and food tastings. (Lindsey has experienced her own little adventure with kids and eating healthy and her family's transformation is truly inspiring.)

I took the kids to the festival and a lot of it seemed to sink in for Julie. We bought a little cooking tools package Lindsey had created, and that afternoon, Julie, unprompted, created her own lettuce wraps. She diligently grated carrots and cucumbers, and wrapped them in romaine lettuce. Nothing fancy, but she was so proud.

 I was relived my healthy eater was back.

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