Time must be flying because I just looked back and saw the last time I posted was July! It is now September. We have had a beautifully full last few months, with little time on social media. Plus, I try to only post when I feel inspired and not forced simply to keep up with some made up quota. I know I am not pleasing the algorithm and I may not get 1 million views with this posting strategy. But anyway...here's something I think about often.
The concept of normal vs common. Warning. I may get a little spicy.
We use the word normal to describe things that we have generally accepted to be, but when you step back, is anything but. The list is extensive and spans most everything in life, it seems. From stress levels, burnout and dissatisfaction to current social and societal norms all labeled as normal but is anything but. Common yes. Normal? Absolutely not.
The fact that the food on our grocery store shelves with the most additives, worst ingredients are less expensive (in the dollar sense) than the comparable product with one simple ingredient. Example: conventional peanut butter vs organic.
Organic produce grown in the earth the way it was created to do is more expensive than the produce sprayed with pesticides that are NOT good for our health.
Eggs laid by chickens the way God intended are multiple dollars more than those laid in silos, not the way their bodies are created to lay the one of the most nutrient dense foods available to us.
Gotta pay to not be poisoned in America.
It is RARE to find an American (especially those over the age of 45) not on at least one pharmaceutical drug. Years ago my dad was at a dr (a VERY rare occurrence) and the dr could not believe he was not on any medication as a man in his 50s. Common but it's NOT normal to be on multiple medications.
From my perspective, this common vs normal is EVERYWHERE. And if you think anything remotely like I do, you won't be able to unsee it. The things in our every day lives we've accepted and labeled normal but really aren't. We are created for better health, more joy, more vibrancy than we've been sold.
One specific area that screams this to me is children’s health today. Let’s take that a step deeper and look at what is common (not normal) to feed children.
For years I worked in Early Intervention, a federally mandated program that supports children ages 0-3 who have developmental delays. It was a wonderful program that offered therapeutic interventions to support a child in the five main areas of child development. When I worked as a Social Emotional Therapist, specifically supporting families whose toddlers were experiencing significant behavioral concerns, I would ask the family a range of questions to get a glimpse of the toddler’s little life that could impact behavior. Things like sleep, nutrition, home life etc.
Without fail, when I’d ask what their toddler ate, the response was “kid food”.
Wait, kid food? Is that different from adult food? Well anyone in America, whether you have kids or not could answer this. Mac and cheese, pizza, chicken fingers. Some kids may have less of a palate and only eat Mac and cheese, Kraft please. Others may be a little braver and eat fruit, but it’s mostly a given kids don’t like veggies. Hence the, “one more bite of your (bland peas with no flavor) and you can have your dessert. Glance at the kids menu at most any restaurant and you’ll more than likely find the same five things.
I’ve heard it said this generation of kids are among the sickest. Chronic disease has increased significantly. I’ve heard that a whopping 54% of children have a chronic illness. Not to mention the constant sickness and unending snotty nose regarded as “normal” as the sun rising each morning. There are several contributing factors and I could write a post on each. I may get brave and write on one in particular I feel strongly about.
But one on which is strongly correlated, one I’m particularly passionate about is nutrition. The ingredients in a typical American child’s snack or meal is absurd. Common, but certainly not normal.
Anyone who knows me knows I am particular about what Norah eats. I don’t take offense at all but a few months back a friend referred to how I feed my daughter by saying “oh that’s right, you’re weird about what you give her to eat”.
If I’m weird, I don’t want to be ordinary. Then I am weird and proud of it! She eats REAL food. She eats what we eat. And she always has. A few of her current favorites include: rare (grass fed) steak, shrimp, olives (all varieties), sushi, salmon, ceviche, and extra buttery (REAL butter, by the way, is one of the healthiest foods out there! It's full of vitamins and amazing healthy fat) green beans with fresh lemon and plenty of nutrient dense salt. She also loves meat sauce- which I make with ground bison liver and heart. Oh, have I mentioned she eats a LOT of butter. Her current favorite morning beverage? Apple Cider Vinegar with hot water and raw honey. Oh and she takes kombucha DOWN.
Real, as nutrient dense as possible, food. Yes, I give her basically no processed food, certainly don’t give her food dyes or excessive sugar. When you look up the affects of these ingredients, you may give second thought to those goldfish too (don’t get me wrong- I loved the salty goodness of an original goldfish as a kid). The argument people give me is “if you don’t give it to her now she’ll go crazy later and eat tons of it”.
Ok, so even if she does. Here’s my response. This stage is arguably one of the most crucial times where she needs as many nutrients as she can get (other than when I was pregnant with her. BTW that’s a whole other topic I could write about. Probably will. Stay tuned.) My goal isn’t to deprive her of all fun and goodness in life. She loves an ice cream treat from our local ice cream shop and cookies like any kid. To the relief of many, she HAS had sugar. (Feel better everyone?! ). In fact, right before bed tonight, she had a little bowl of chocolate ice cream. GASP!
My goal is to make eating a MINDFUL experience. For her to know how to listen to her body, to feel how what she eats makes her body feel like. The goal is not to never have sugar or junk and shelter her from the world. The goal is to know how her body feels when she eats that versus a nutrient dense meal. My goal is to give her the opportunity to know what her body feels like when it’s nourished with real, whole food. To make that the norm. That way, she knows how to make choices as to what she wants to eat and what is best for her body. It's not limiting, it's empowering and I believe that connection to and awareness of her body will serve her so well in so many ways.
The other day we were out to eat a local burger restaurant where her meal (which I NEVER order a kids meal for multiple reasons but I feel better about the options at this place) at this particular restaurant came with a little scoop of vanilla ice cream. She took a bite and immediately her face turned away from the excitement to almost disgust. I asked her what was wrong. Her response? "This doesn't make my body feel good".
PROUD Mama moment. THIS is the goal. For her to know how her body feels when she eats, and she can feel empowered to make the best choices for her own body in those moments. Sometimes the taste of that ice cream is worth not feeling 100%. And that's fine by me. It was a mindful choice.
When our bodies are fueled with real food, there’s no denying it. It’s incomparable. Honestly, I really don’t crave or want “junk” food. It’s not worth it to me. I feel like junk. I can tell when I’ve eaten something that isn’t great. I feel tired, sluggish, foggy. That’s not how we’re meant to live. Real food (sans nasty added toxic chemicals, preservatives, and all the other crap our food system adds to even those foods labeled with all the "healthy" trendy words) supports our bodies to feel vibrant, clear, energized. When we eat real, good food, our bodies crave good, real food. This is how I want to raise Norah and if I got her addicted to all the crap now at 3.5, how will this serve her the rest of her life?
It’s wild that I’m considered counter cultural since my daughter doesn’t know any of America’s fast food chains. That she’s never had any Kraft product, or any other similar common American brand.
As parents, along with all aspects of raising her, I consider it a huge responsibility to nourish her in order for her to be nourished in this crucial stage of development. I often wonder why more people don’t think about this. Why I am the weird one. I don’t fault or judge, I know many are doing the best with what they know. But seriously, why is it so common (not normal) to pump kids full of toxins like this? Asking for a friend.
I’m not the only one. There are TONS of food additives and ingredients banned in Europe that a typical American child eats on the daily. And for VERY good reason. Just some of the risks associated with these common additives consumed daily by Americans include but are not limited to: Cancer, heat issues, autoimmune diseases, hyperactivity, and so much more. It seems as though the general American population has been somewhat brainwashed to ignore these things. Hence why I’m somewhat in the minority by feeding Norah the way we do.
When I was pregnant with her, Jacob and I read Raising Bebe, a book written by an American who married a British guy and they live in and are raising their two kids in France. I love to travel and love learning how to different cultures live, so this book was especially interesting learning how they approach parenting.
One thing that stood out is what French kids eat. Especially the food served at schools. REAL, FRESH, (actual) food. The "food" given in American schools (the quotes are intentional) is anything BUT food. Filling, sure. But does it set a student up for success to concentrate and learn? How about to support the ever growing mental health issues (of course there are other reasons for this too).
It's so far beyond just what parents choose to feed their kids. It's a SYSTEM issue. I understand people make choices based on income many times. And we value real food, so we allocate more for it. BUT my point still stands. It shouldn't be so common that the food in our country that DIRECTLY negatively affects our health is LESS than the food grown and created the way God intended that actually nourishes and heals. PLUS. It may seem cheaper now, but in the long run, it's more expensive because: medical bills. It shouldn't be common to consume 1,000s of additives, natural and artificial flavorings, pesticides and more that are banned in other countries for VERY good reasons on a daily basis.
My intent is NOT to sound like a judgmental mom. Everyone is doing the best they know with what they know. As much as I care about this stuff, I have many things I want to do better with her nutrition.
I guess what I am trying to say is it MATTERS. Our medical system doesn't really recognize the importance (beyond some simple things like don't introduce more than one food at one time so you can identify a possible allergy, but also that same dr- here have multiple shots at once that have never actually been tested and studied together and often have many of those same suspected allergens. that's another possible post for another day. oops, got a little spicy there), and to sound really doom and gloom I do think there is some intention behind it. Follow the money. But that is not the point of this post. Even if our government doesn't step in, that doesn't matter. I am Norah's mom, not them. It is MY job to make the best decisions for her, not theirs. I can be all upset with our system, but at the end of the day, it does not matter. I am responsible for raising her to the best of my ability. And there is no way I could justify feeding her the SAD (Standard American Diet).
To sum it all up: "Normal is about how human beings are designed to be. Not what's common, popular, or profitable".
I deeply want her to live a life as full as possible, don't we all want this for our kids? Of course. We want what is absolutely best for them in all areas! And nourishing her body is one of the many ways I work to set her up for a full and vibrant life!
As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below!