Friday, January 6, 2012

Post for local parenting blog

So I'm back! After a good birth of my fourth child, an eventful adjustment to being a party of six, my husband's trip to California, an exhausting end of the semester, and a bout of serious postpartum depression just before Christmas, I'm glad to be back.

Eating hospital food for 2 days inspired today's post, and this inspiration was further bolstered by the holiday treat baccanalia that followed with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, two birthdays, and New Year's in rapid succession. Our bodies aren't meant to be fueled this way! My health and mood go down when this is how I eat. My kids' behavior takes a turn for the worse, and they catch more of whatever plague is going around when we don't eat as nutritiously.

I am absolutely to blame for this, but you know what? I don't beat myself up about it. I am a reasonably skilled baker, and I make hundreds of cookies during the holiday season to give away, to take to events, and yes, to munch on. I'm all for keeping this special tradition. I made about 900 this year, and I still have a triple batch of citrus sugar cookie dough in my freezer that will stay there until Easter, I believe. I am happy to say that we don't have any actual cookies in the house. I think there's an errant tin of them under the seats of the van, but I'll excavate that one of these days and take the cookies to church for coffee hour. At least they're in cold storage, right?

My biggest concerns with this excess of sugar have been my second son's behavior, my toddler girl's pickiness, and my own postpartum crash. My son has always been really good about savoring a treat and taking forever to finish candy, but his sweet tooth has suddenly been switched on, and he has no off switch. He is not able to stop himself when sugar is available, and that is how I was as a kid, resulting in a lot of cavities and mood swings. I want him to develop some self-control, and I need to model that for him. He asks for dessert every night, even though it's never been more than a weekly or bi-weekly option. I lack the will to make everyone go cold turkey, so we will scale back our sweets for a while and then possibly give up all sweets for Lent as a family, with exceptions for the two birthdays that occur then. My major strategy for all of us is to make lots of veggie-loaded soups. Whole wheat pasta, beans, rice, and barley are nice add-ins for many of our favorite soups, and whole wheat bread is a filling side.

As for myself, I have come back to reality (as opposed to survival mode) now that I'm taking Zoloft, and I know I can't eat a cookie every time I breastfeed my sweet and ravenous two month old. I have to start my day with a kefir-yogurt-berry smoothie or a bowl of oatmeal. Kefir and good yogurt contain healthy bacteria and yeast that balance out the flora in the gut, allowing the digestive system to work properly. Some frozen blueberries provide vitamins and antioxidants, and I feel great when I start my day this way. I sweeten it with a little stevia if the yogurt is very tart or the kefir is very strong, and it is delicious! Oatmeal is helpful in keeping breastmilk production up, and I feel full all morning when I have a bowl.

I need to eat lunch. Every day. This shouldn't be an epiphany, even though I'm writing this on Epiphany. I get so busy with infant and toddler girls that I often skip lunch and nosh on whatever is handy. I need to make sure that nutritious stuff IS what's handy so that I'm not setting myself up for failure and crashing by the time my school-age kids come home.

My toddler girl has been on a course of antibiotics and needs good yogurt to help restore the flora in her belly as well. It provides calcium and protein that she does not otherwise get because she is sensitive to uncultured milk. She has been on a graham cracker diet because she was sick and didn't want anything else, so I'm taking this opportunity to get her back on a variety of healthier fare as well. She won't eat what I'm not modeling and providing for her. I'm happy to say that she sneaked and finished my oatmeal this morning.

Interested in learning how to make yogurt and kefir? Join us at Wheeling Mountain Sprouts at Edgwood Evangelical Lutheran Church on January 20 at 10am. I'll be demonstrating the processes and sharing some fresh yogurt and kefir. We'll also be talking about bread baking.

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