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School Lunches versus Packing a Lunch: How to Keep Both Healthy

23 May

We homeschool, but we are out and about a lot.  Here’s an example of our packed lunch.

How do we keep our children’s lunches healthy?  According to the World Health Organization“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”   So, we can rephrase our question as: how can we ensure our children’s lunches contribute to their physical, mental and social well-being and, by consuming them, they will not be afflicted by disease or sickness?

I recently watched a short documentary called Lunch, a film based on interviews about ‘Green School’ lunch programs, instilling healthy habits in kids and organic gardening in a school setting.  It seems to me that most people talk about kid’s lunches from a single viewpoint: the food. They say: let’s improve food quality, organic is better, no more GMOs, add more fruits and vegetables, no more fried foods, add healthier options, grow a school garden, add nutrition to the curriculum…  While I think these are all wonderful and much needed, the most important thing we can do is to empower children themselves to make the right food choices.  

At the end of the day, the children are the only ones who can control what they eat, therefore it is not enough to simply create a healthy nutrition environment for them. Children need to be taught that any kind of food can keep us alive, but it is the nutritious food that helps maintain our body, mind and social capacities well. We need to teach children about a whole lifestyle that emphasizes not only nutritional choices, but also how the choices they make affect their own physical, mental and social well-being.   When children are educated, when they understand, when they are given proper role models and when they are given tools to help them choose health, then the responsibility for parents and guardians to create a healthy nutrition environment for them becomes easier – simply because children will WANT it for themselves.  

Proper Nutrition is integral to maintaining our physical, mental and social health and well-being.

We can teach children the value of eating to live, not living to eat. We can teach them the value of maintaining physical, mental and social well-being (these are a few examples):

    • show them what happens to their bodies when they consume junk versus nutritious foods, for example:
      • what happens to teeth when they eat processed sugar (place a tooth in Coca Cola and see what happens)
      • what happens to bones when people eat too much animal protein and cow’s milk (show rates of osteoporosis in different communities)
      • teach them to look at their own poop and explain what healthy poop should look like
      • teach them how different foods create different energy levels (discuss athletes and their diet)
      • watch Wall-E and discuss why the humans are obese (foods they eat, exercise)
      • show videos like Supersize Me and Forks over Knives to older children
    • show them what happens to their minds depending on the food consumed, for example:
      • discuss how mental performance suffers/improves due to diet (i.e. Food For the Brain study)
      • show them that learning challenges and problem behaviors may decrease/increase according to diet
      • discuss how exercising the brain is just as important as sports is for the body
      • discuss how quality foods help the nerves in the brain function properly (memory, problem solving, etc)
    • show them that their nutritional choices have social implications, for example
      • discuss what “social well-being” means vis-à-vis proper nutrition within the community, the nation and the world (according to the United States Institute of Peace: “Social well-being is an end state in which basic human needs are met and people are able to coexist peacefully in communities with opportunities for advancement. This end state is characterized by equal access to and delivery of basic needs services (water, food, shelter, and health services), the provision of primary and secondary education, the return or resettlement of those displaced by violent conflict, and the restoration of social fabric and community life.)
      • discuss composting, recycling, reusing and reducing in the community and at home
      • discuss pollution and toxicity
      • discuss what stress does to us
      • discuss how the quality of food we eat affects our emotions and therefore our social well-being.
As we teach them to grow their own food and to prepare their own meals from scratch… we can sit back and see what happens.

Other ideas here too: Top 10 Tips to Get Your Kids to Eat More Fruits and Veggies

Part of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop! Click on the image for more links to Gifted/2E Health and Wellness Issues!

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Mama’s Emotional Health Affects The Whole Family

12 Aug

“If you really want to be outrageous, be ethical.

If you want to go against the grain, be kindhearted.

If you want to live on your own terms, breaking out from expectations and external demands, practice love.

To be free, to be different, to be bold, be compassionate.”

~ Sharon Salzberg ~

I believe that our emotional health impacts our overall health, our family’s health and the health of humanity.

Mama & Child: My artist friend painted this for us when our son was born.

THE POWER OF MOTHER ON HER FAMILY

I remember a few months ago, a Facebook question was posed:

“What does the word “mother” mean to you? How about “power”? How does it feel to put those two words into the same sentence? What IS the true power of mothers?”

This question just spoke to me and I immediately responded:

“I feel as a mother, I have the power to influence my family’s physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health for the better… and for the worse… So I would like to make sure I use my power intelligently, proactively and deliberately.”

As I typed my comment on my computer, I thought:

– physical health (check)

– mental health (when my son’s not driving me crazy, check)

– spiritual health (check, but if tied to emotional health, maybe not), and

– emotional health (hmmm…. definitely cannot check, big fat red X).

WHEN MAMA’S NOT HAPPY, NOBODY’S HAPPY

What? Here I am, the advocate in my family for a healthier lifestyle. Sure I was emphasizing healthy foods, but I was totally disregarding emotional health. I knew that emotional stress could wreak havoc on one’s physical health, but in all honesty, I didn’t want to face the fact that I was causing ill health in my family.

Admittedly, I was influencing my family’s emotional health for the worse. You see, for the past 7 years, I have hated my mother-in-law. When we were in the same room, the tension was almost unbearable, for me, my mother-in-law, my husband, my parents. And, I’m sure my young son felt it too.

It wasn’t always like this though. Before getting married, my mother-in-law was a friend, a good friend. And the words ‘good’ and ‘friend’ can’t even begin to describe the bond we had had from the very beginning. Let’s just say, if I didn’t have a mother, she would have been the woman I would have loved to be mine. But after I married her only son, things changed. I don’t know how it all got out of hand, but it did and it was ugly.

EFFECTS OF EMOTIONAL STRESS ON THE BODY

At the height of my rage, the emotional stress was so intense my heart would pound and race, my teeth would chatter uncontrollably, my whole body would shake and, in the summer, I would feel so cold. Not a picture of health, is it?!? I don’t know about you, but food doesn’t affect my body as traumatically as anger or hatred does.

According to the American Institution of Stress, emotional stress affects our immune system, gastrointestinal tract, skin and other organs, “hormones, brain neurotransmitters, additional small chemical messengers elsewhere, prostaglandins, as well as crucial enzyme systems, and metabolic activities that are still unknown.”

Yes, I was poisoning my own body. And at the same time, I was bringing my family’s emotional health down with me.

FEAR IS POISON

I had thought that taking the time and the energy to forgive my mother-in-law, freely accept her for all she is and just letting go of the hurts between us would be extremely difficult for me. I thought taking the time to intelligently, proactively or deliberately try to heal our relationship would completely drain me. I thought it would expose my ego’s vulnerabilities to her, which I was too eager to protect. So I just completely ignored her instead, which just added to her pain… and mine.

THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM IS ME

I was watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with my son a few weeks ago and loved the song Truly Scrumptious. We would youtube it and watch it a few times a day. I don’t know why the song grabbed my attention so intensely, but it did. And the more I watched it, the more I envisioned my mother-in-law’s face on Truly’s. It was a bizarre experience, but all of a sudden, it moved me to see my mother-in-law in a whole different light. I saw a woman’s utmost joy expressed in the company of the children, the love she gave to them freely, her total present state of mind while she was with them and her sensitive bond with the children. Suddenly, I saw all the positives in my mother-in-law, where I once saw only negatives.

In my epiphany, I realized that the burden of the past 7 years continued to weigh down on me, because of no one else but me. It was I who needed to change my attitude, my behavior and my subjective point of view. As Thich Naht Hanh says,

“When some persons cause me to suffer… I should ask if I myself, in fact, may be one of the causes and conditions which makes them what they are.”

HEALING

For the past 3 weeks, my mother-in-law and I have had the most open, the most energizing, the most rewarding and the most loving experience we have ever shared together. What seemed like an irreparable relationship has been healed. Now, when I communicate with her, my heart jumps for joy, my whole body is energized and I feel warm all over. I can talk to my husband and my son about her with love and joy. Gone is the tension, the heaviness, the fear, the anger, the hatred, the suffering, the poison.

I feel emotionally healthier, physically lighter and spiritually lifted. I know my family has felt the change too. I am blessed with a mother-in-law who kept her door and heart open, ready and waiting for my return. Her kindness, forgiveness and love for me has taught me in turn how to love and how to live. Through my mother-in-law, I am beginning to really understand what it means to be a Mother and how to use the power we have as mothers to influence our family for the better.