They call me the Food Nazi…

I appear to have developed a bit of a reputation as a Food Nazi among my friends here in ReluctantSuburbia.

(see below for how that happened!!)

My boys, energy filled, clever, wonderful little chaps that they are, are deemed paragons of eating virtue by their friends’ mums… why? Because they eat vegetables, fruit, brown rice, beans, lettuce wraps, fish etc. Apparently, however, I am regarded with a certain amount of trepidation; as if my friends are conjuring up images of me standing over my crying, protesting children, force-feeding them raw veggies and cardboard-esque slabs of tofu! The truth is that we make dinners and lunches together, they love cooking – all that tearing, mushing and stirring – and they have quite developed opinions on which tomatoes go with which dips.. don’t even get them started on types of hummus!!

As you may have noticed, here in the RS household, there are a few things we do differently – like having babies, and our approach to food and feeding our family is right up there. The thing is, I have never been one to accept the status quo, and consequently even before our babies were eating real food, I was consciously choosing whole, fresh foods for nutrition. When I was pregnant, our midwife had a standard for us, a certain amount of each type of food each week, and explained why I needed to eat whole, natural, preservative-free foods. This got me thinking that if, when pregnant and growing a whole person, I should protect them from harmful preservatives, additives and chemicals, why would it be any different when they come out?

Now, I will admit to being an obsessive label reader, a passionate cook, and an unashamed hater of additives and chemicals in my food, so it will come as no surprise that we have always done our best to avoid obviously junky foods. But, recently, I have had to take another hard look at our regular shopping list and have discovered some really disturbing things: Cinnamon Life cereal has red food coloring in it, most kids yoghurts not only have blue5 & red40 but also HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup – Ugh don’t even get me started on that junk!), that almost everything marketed to kids has added sugar, refined bleached enriched white flour, added salt, and artificial sweeteners, not to mention the preservatives and other unintelligible-chemistry-babble ingredients. Why, Oh, Why do we need to add all this junk to our food and why is it being marketed to us as “healthy” when, as soon as you take your eyes off the happy smiling people on the packaging and actually read the ingredients, you can see plainly that it is the exact opposite?

This is my plea; People, take control of your family’s health by taking back your brain in the grocery store! Don’t be fooled by pretty, healthy-looking packaging and special offers, but rather choose things that actually resemble real food! Please stop cramming your children full of sugar, food coloring and additives and then berating them for their inability to concentrate at school – their brain is broken because of their diet… they don’t need drugs, they need real food; whole raw foods that support their immune systems not destroy them!

And, here is a truly radical thought – send them to school with a healthy home made packed lunch, with whole grains and fruit and veggies and water to drink, instead of the crap they provide at school.

I have always maintained that school lunches are junk, and have never participated in the mess that is the government-funded big-food-company sponsored poisoning of school children; however, even I was shocked at the “Healthy Eating” claims of USDA approved school lunches, apparently pizza with jello and chocolate milk (sweetened with HFCS and food colorings galore) is “balanced”, brain food! One courageous teacher in Illinois has set out to expose the ugly truth of her school’s food, by committing to eat it every day, follow her, read her, encourage her and most importantly, take control of your child’s health by opting out if you can, or lobbying for change if you can’t.

So, here in ReluctantSuburbia we will be having brown rice, chicken and veggie stir-fry for dinner – stop by, the boys may even let you cook!

Here’s to your good health and ours!

The Reluctant Suburbanite

ReluctantSuburbia:

Where mummy-hood is more about raising men than being a taxi-driver… but that is a topic for another day!

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My birthright rant… You have been warned!

It is funny what you end up talking about at parties, isn’t it?  You see, today, at a Superbowl party, where, I am sure, the expected conversation is about stats and Archie Manning and what an upset the Saints just caused, Hubby and I ended up at the kitchen table talking about homebirth versus hospital birth and why we made that choice.  Until I lived here, in the land of the status quo, I didn’t realize that my choices were counter-cultural, and that, to some, they are seen as radical / fundamentalist  or just plain mental; and that to talk about them makes me an advocate, an activist, someone whose opinion can be seen as marred in some way by their belief that it is right… as if to have an opinion makes you somehow unqualified to share that same opinion.

The thing is, I passionately believe that home birth / birth center birth is by far the best choice a mother can make for herself and her baby.  And believe me, I realize that, if anyone is actually reading this blog, I will get multitudinous comments on safety and high risk etc etc.  We are all entitled to our opinion, and, since this is my blog, I get to share mine here.

My boys were both born at home, in a birthing tub, in vastly different circumstances.  Their births could not have been more different from one another; one was long and laborious, the other short and intense; one was peaceful and worry free, the other came with a chaser of anxiety; one was early, the other late; but the similarities far outweigh the differences.

From the moment I found out I was expecting, I knew I would have a home delivery, at this point, mind you, I did not know what that would look like, I just knew that I didn’t trust a medical system so adept at malpractice and MRSA infections to make the best choices for me and my baby.  Like most home birthing families, we came upon our convictions gradually but with increasing force.

The more I learned about birth the American way, the more I became convinced that I, like thousands of women for thousands of years before me, could do this with out the interventions of malpractice-insurance-shy doctors and hospital administrators.  We developed an almost insatiable thirst for knowledge of the God-given design of my body; the amazing way that all the systems of a woman’s body come together during a natural birth to relieve pain, transfer nutrition, take care of the infant through every stage.  The more I learned how I was designed to bring life into the world, the more I became convinced that doctors don’t have the best interests of mothers and babies at heart, they have only their procedures and risk-mitigation-strategies.

Natural birth has been labeled “granola”, it is associated with commune-dwelling hippies and old ladies with a kettle of hot water and some towels. The reality is so far from that as to be unrecognizable.  I received the highest level of prenatal care, far more visits than my hospital-delivering friends; we were educated to the point of confidence in any eventuality, we were encouraged to believe that this wonderful thing called  birth was not only positive but part of created purpose, that I was, in fact, more than able to meet this labor head on… pun totally intended;)

Our first son was born after 20 hours of labor, hard labor by all accounts, labor that was in and out of water, in my flat, with my husband and doula (mothers’ birthing assistant), attended by the most loving and experienced midwife.  I ate and drank and rested, it was dark and we had music playing; when my labor stalled after 12  hours, my midwife suggested I move around a bit, so we danced (well, really I shuffled while my hubby held me up). When transition came and I became convinced that I could do nothing more, they reminded me that I could, that this was expected, that he was on his way and that my lack of confidence was to be embraced as my body took over and my mind relinquished the control that it thought would spare me but was actually causing pain.  And when, finally, he was born, I brought him out and up to my chest with such joy and delight and pride and relief that I can scarcely believe, even now 6 years later, that I did it. And then he opened his eyes and it was love at first blink.  The damp dark quiet was not interrupted by screams, water-birthed babies often don’t cry, such is the gentleness of their transition; I held him as the placenta finished pumping the rest of his nutrient rich blood, and then nursed him as I delivered it.  As I stood in my own shower contemplating the sweetness of my bed, he lay in his daddy’s arms as he was gently measured and tested.

The next morning, after all three of us had a full night’s sleep in our bed, he awoke hungry and with very specific desires in that regard.. he took to nursing like he had the night before, and I stared in awe at the little human who 24 hours ago was still on his way out.  Birth, to me, will always be a miraculous process, a joyful participation in creation.  It matters to me how he came into the world, it matters to me how I felt about his birth and I will always advocate for others to not have to accept that, “the end justifies the means,all that really matters is that your baby is here and healthy.”  Yes, that is paramount and the result of a birth should always be a healthy baby, but not just baby, surely the mother deserves the same, a safe and healthy delivery, free from narcotics and surgeries and synthetic hormones that your body would produce on its own if you just gave it time.  OK, I have ranted for long enough…

For now, Good Night,

I remain, yours

The Reluctant Suburbanite