Mom's Healthy Living Guide

Healthy Living Starts With Mom

In many ways, mom is the healthy living guide. I know this is true because when I was a child my mom was my guide to a healthy lifestyle. I knew that healthy food was delicious because of my mom made nutrient packed, delicious meals almost every day.

I knew that you didn’t need to see a doctor for a cold or flu, because my mom’s medicine cabinet was packed with herbs, tinctures, and poultices for all common ailments.

The truth is, healthy living starts at home. Guiding children to be healthy can be difficult, but when you work your healthy living guide into their everyday lives, they don’t even notice.

Step 1 to Mom’s Healthy Living Guide: Realize your own importance

You are The Household CEO

According to Wikipedia, “A Chief Executive Officer (CEO), or just Chief Executive (CE), is the most senior corporate, executive, or administrator in charge of managing an organization.”

Think about this description. Now replace "an organization" with "a household." Does this title fit you?

That’s why I call moms the household CEO. Even if you have an owner (dad) responsible for infusing the organization (household) with cash flow, the job of keeping the organization (household) profitable falls to the CEO (mom). Managing grocery budget, employee (children) expenditures (clothing, shoes, school related, sports related), ensuring the organization is up to code (household cleanliness), monitoring employee (kids) productivity (homework, science fair projects, cleaning of rooms, helpful chores, and extra curricular).

The CEO hands in an expense report to the owner (which is often themselves. CEO Owners are not uncommon. In this case, this is the single parent home.), and as a team (even if it is a team of 1) they will decide is the expenses are sustainable. However, if they are not, guess who gets to make the cut backs. I bet you guessed it; household CEO.

Household CEO is responsible for eliminating waste. Things like reusing leftovers and buying in bulk for certain items. Inventory and the health of the company as a whole (family) all fall to the household CEO.

Now that you’ve seen how uniquely important your roll is for the heartbeat of the entire household, realize the powerful position in which you sit.

What you bring into the house is what will go in and on everyone’s bodies. While kids and dads may have preferences for food or body products, they are likely to use what is already there. It is true that maybe dad might bring home ice cream in the middle of cold season, or the teenagers might stockpile gas station food, but more often than any of that, they will eat the food that is easily available: the food that mom brought into the house.

Personally, I wasted far too much time trying to sell my family on my healthy ideas. I wanted to get healthier tooth paste, body wash, lotion, and hair care, but everyone had a say. Then one day I just switched, and guess what? Everyone else just switched too.

I bought the tooth paste I wanted; everyone uses it to brush their teeth. I bought the chemical free hand soap, and everyone used it. I started making the lotion and facial cleansers; everyone used them.

I switched all the flour to whole grain, added quinoa and barley to the cabinet, and everyone ate what I cooked.

Unilateral health decisions are good for the family. The truth is, when you ask for everyone’s thoughts and opinions, that is exactly what you get. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just go for it.

You are the household CEO. You make the big decisions and, if they do not upset the profitability of the household, everyone will just follow along.

Step 2 to Mom’s Healthy Living Guide: Realize your own limits

You may be your family's superhero, but you are not superhuman

Part of the reason momming is so difficult is because it simply never ends. You love your family, of course, but as a mom you will never get a break from that job. Even if you are a working mother, when you come home from work you get to start your actual full-time job, the one that takes all of your time: momming.

It can be exhausting to be responsible for everyone’s physical and emotional needs while maintaining your home and whatever else you have happening in your life. Women are notorious for multi-tasking. Multi-tasking, however, is notoriously stressful, which brings me to the second point of the Mom's Healthy Living Guide.

Stress is unhealthy.

Moms make up a large percentage of the stressed portion of the population. Being stressed out increased cortisol in your blood stream. That makes sense since cortisol is the stress hormone.

Having high amounts of cortisol in your system on a frequent basis leads to poor long-term health. It affects your mental state and causes anxiety, which often leads to insomnia or even bouts of depression.

Cortisol Infecting Surrounding Cells

Increased cortisol levels in your blood stream lead to the production of lower quality collagen, which is your skin, hair, and fingernails. Feeling unhappy with your appearance can lead to feelings of self-doubt or dissatisfaction with yourself, which adds one more layer of stress.

It’s a vicious cycle. Obviously not all the stressful things in your life can be removed, but you can make daily efforts to combat stress.

Mental health will greatly affect physical health. How you feel will affect how every cell in your body functions. The human body is far more in tune with itself than it is given credit for.

Before you can move forward to physical health, it’s important to find ways to support your own mental health.

Most days moms have lists that are a mile long, and a lot of the time we do not complete our daily lists in a day. Be okay with that. Get done what you can, and don’t be afraid to tell yourself “it’s time to stop.” Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have a partner, family member, or friend who can help you, ask.

Many women just keep powering through, even though they’re overwhelmed and need help. Perhaps it’s pride, maybe proving a point, or maybe even you just don’t realize your own stress. Whatever the reason, many women wait far too long to ask for help. We’ve seen our mothers, grandmothers, and aunties do this for year, and now we are doing it too.

Try to take time for yourself every day.

15-20 minutes of meditation or yoga every day, or even just a couple times a week, can help you focus on yourself internally, get you in sync with your body, and feel where your stress is coming from; or maybe where some tension spots have been hiding.

Meditating is sometime brushed off as "hokey," but there is actually a lot of benefit to getting quiet inside, and letting your mind just be empty for a little while. Focus on your breath and let everything else go.

Treating yourself to some alone time is also very helpful. You’d be shocked at how 15 minutes alone can make you feel refreshed. For me, I like to get up a couple minutes early and have 15 minutes to drink my coffee and play sudoku before my family gets up. Some mornings, I get up and as soon as I pour my coffee my 2-year-old gets out of bed and needs something. That’s okay, sometimes life gets in the way. I then try to move my daily alone time to a strategic evening time, immediately after serving dinner.

I’ll put out the food, go in another room, and be by myself for a few minutes to do whatever I want and relax.

Some people relax by watching a TV show, some relax in a bath, some like to have a glass of red wine, some like to meditate in silence, and some just need a quick nap. Whatever your relaxing style may be, it is vital that you take just a couple minutes every day for yourself.

It is so important that you take care of yourself. What would your family do without you? If you are less stressed, not only will you possibly age better and perhaps live longer, but you will enjoy your life more and find everyday responsibilities more manageable.

How you feel matters. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not endured. Take time to improve the quality of your everyday life.

Step 3 to Mom’s Healthy Living Guide: Healthy eating looks different for every person

Tinkering a diet to fit your family needs

There is a lot out there about the new trendy diets, and a lot of people telling you that you can lose weight without eating healthy. That is nonsense. Think about the Keto Diet for example, you can eat as much beef and butter as you want, and you will be healthy and fit if you don’t eat potatoes or bread. Does that sound right to you?

There is not a secret to losing weight. There is only 1 way to do it. It is an easy math problem. It doesn’t matter who tells you differently, because you’ll know it’s true without having to look it up or even think too hard about it.

The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you take in. That’s it. There is not another way.

Healthy eating is about more than losing weight, though. There are a lot of chemicals in foods these days, and they are changing human bodies in ways that are difficult to predict or combat.

One of my main goals at Mom’s Healthy Living Guide is to make it easy to find wholesome, natural, and chemical-free food as possible food choices. From choosing the right meat, to determining whether you’re an olive oil or coconut oil person, to choosing the best meal plan for your lifestyle, these are all struggles I’ve been through with my family.

More active people need more protein and fats than less active people. However, most Americans already eat far too much protein and fat than their body can process. Everyone should be eating more plants than anything else. You can tinker with what specifically you need for vitamins and minerals based on your exercise patterns, family health history, and genetic factors, but regardless of all of these, humans need to eat more plants than anything else to be healthy on the inside.

Exercise is so important, especially when we’re thinking about stress relief, but no matter how much you exercise you cannot out work a bad diet. If you take in more than your body can handle and think you can just work it off, that will not work past your teens and early 20s; for some, not even then.

Healthy eating gets a bad name. I think it’s an advertising game that pushes unhealthy foods as being delicious and healthier options to increase sales, but that’s not important. For whatever reason, movies and TV shows, memes and gifs all make jokes about healthy food tasting bad and unhealthy food tasting good. That all has an affect on how kids think about food, which can make it challenging to get them to eat well.

My go to method is not give anyone a choice. There is no way I will let a fast-food chicken sandwich compete with mine. As mom’s we get to save the name of healthy food by blowing the competition out of the water.

I know healthy food tastes better because I grew up eating it, and I was appalled by the taste of fake food. I feed it to my family and my daughter does not think that fast-food chicken nuggets are actual chicken.

Anyone can learn to cook at any age. It isn’t hard. There are a lot of easy healthy recipes to get you started, and once you’ve made a few, you start to get a feel for the balance of cooking. Next thing you know, you won’t need a recipe because you’ll be creating recipes.

Stocking the kitchen

Image By Zak Greant

I don’t bring unhealthy ingredients into my house, so it's not an option to make unhealthy food. I don’t do prepackaged seasoning, because they are often laced with chemicals and hiding sugars. Instead, I rely on good ‘ol pink salt and a black peppercorn medley. Garlic and onions are cheap and taste amazing. They boost the flavor in anything they are added to and lift it from a home cooked meal to a Chopped Amateur level meal.

I removed all butter and vegetable (canola) oil from our house and replaced it slowly over time with several oils. Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, and ghee (for special occasions like pancakes). These oils are more expensive, but that’s an investment in long term cardio-vascular health that will save me and my family thousands of dollars in future medications or hospital care.

For seasoning, people make it seem so difficult to pick the perfect seasoning, but the truth is it’s cheaper and better to make it.

Image By ProtoplasmaKid - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

If you go to the grocery store and get a bottle of organic turmeric, you’ll pay $5. If you can find a local oriental market or Indian market, you can get a huge bag for $2. (It will definitely be organic) If you don’t have access to things like that, amazon has a lot of spices that are available for 2-day shipping.

Once you’ve chosen a variety of spices you like, you just spoon a little of each into a bowl, add some salt and pepper, and you’ve just made your own seasoning. It takes just a couple of minutes, you save so much money on spices, and you don’t have to worry about what’s in it, because you made it.

Interestingly enough, in India people are far more aware of chemicals in food, how their food is grown, and most Indians do not eat meat. Often, when Indians come to America they don’t want to shop at our local stores because Americans are not conscious about these things at all. Because of this, places that have a high concentration of Indian immigrants often have a local Indian market.

If you can find and Indian market near you, you can save a lot of money buying organic fruits and vegetables and bulk organic spices from the Indian store. Once I discovered these kinds of savings, I branched out to see what other cultural food I was missing out on.

I found an Oriental market near us that had several root vegetables that I’d never even heard of. I completely quit shopping for food at American chains for food and started exclusively buying food from these stores. My grocery budget was cut in half, we had healthier food, and everyone was happy. The Oriental market actually farmed their own chickens, so we had local farm eggs year-round. They also had fresh, wild-caught fish flown in from Gulf Shores every day, so I’d go in and pick out what I wanted from whatever they had that day.

These are the kinds of healthy living tips that moms have to share with each other so we can all be healthier for cheaper. Over the years, I’ve picked up a number of healthy living tips from various people that I’ve met in a lot of places and some I’ve stumbled across on my own, but they’ve all benefited me on my quest for long-lasting vitality. I want to be spry and of sound mind in my 90s, and I want to dance up to deaths door, with a full life. I don’t want to spend my final years on a ventilator in a cold hospital room, staring at taupe-colored walls with a sheet for a curtain.

I know the best way to ensure this is to take care of my body from a young age so it will take care of me in my old age.

Be Aware of Your Weaknesses

My weakness is snacks. My husband and I were on a really good roll with cooking at home, eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, eating healthy meats, and exercising as a family in the park. Then I was like “we need more snacks.”

I told myself that it’s okay in moderation. I personally love smoked Gouda cheese with crackers. I created the perfect storm. I bought a big block of smoke Gouda, a couple boxes of Triscuits, some smoked salmon, and green olives. All my favorites.

The first night home, I turned on a good show, started folding laundry, and pulled out my little snack tray. I used these ingredients to make a delicious, sodium and fat rich bite. Then next thing I knew I finished the whole block of cheese, the entire package of salmon, half the jar of olives, and the whole box of crackers.

The day my stomach hurt like crazy, but it didn’t stop me from going to the store and creating the same storm again.

Now I must be honest with myself and be aware that if I bring smoked Gouda into the house the chances are close to 100% that I will eat the entire block at one time.

Now I only buy smoke Gouda about twice a year. I’d like to tell myself that I’ll just grate a little on my salad, but the truth is, I might just take a bite out of the block because I’m hungry at 9 pm.

I’ve chosen to limit the availability of my bad habits. Instead, I make homemade humus and eat it with vegetables most of the time, but sometimes I’ll heat up some Naan bread and eat it with that instead.

Maybe your weakness isn’t cheese or snacks but take a minute to think about that thing that you might bring into the house that causes you to take in far more calories than you want to. If there is nothing at all that you can think of, huge high five to you, because you are the exception. For the rest of us, try and remove that thing from your house completely and make it your reward food.

When I complete a semester at school, or someone has a birthday, we eat celebration food. My celebration food is whatever I don’t bring into my house because of my bad eating compulsions. 

Step 4 of Mom’s Healthy Living Guide: Hydration

Water will save you

I’m a little ashamed that hydration is all the way down at step 4, but I stand by my ordering decisions. Proper hydration can solve so many problems for overeating to excessive acne.

Everything on our planet is made from the same building blocks, including us. I like to think about that a lot because it just makes sense that since we are made out of the same blocks as the earth, the earth provides us with everything we need to live a long time and stay youthful our whole lives.

Well, I think you know where I’m going with this, the Earth is 71 percent water. We are 60% water. If you’re stranded in the wild with no food or water, you will die of a lack of water far faster than a lack of food.

Most Americans are dehydrated all the time. Being dehydrated is depriving your body of it’s most basic need. People who are well hydrated have better skin and hair, they don’t end up looking like a dried prune in their old age, and they are far less likely to overeat.

Why? Simple. Your brain releases a hormone called Ghrelin when it is hungry OR thirsty. We feel a rumbling in our bellies and eat, and eat, and eat. Somehow the appetite doesn’t feel satisfied. That is because your body releases Ghrelin for thirst as well, and you cannot treat thirst by eating.

By the time you feel thirsty in your mouth, your body is starving for water and you are very dehydrated. When you feel that hunger in your belly, try drinking water first. Drink a lot of water, before your brain ever starts releasing Ghrelin, feed your body water. Well hydrated people tend to be more beautiful.

If you’re drinking plenty of water all the time, you are less likely to get that “snacky” feeling and over eat when you’re not hungry. I often see memes or hear people talking about wanting to eat, but not really being hungry. This is often your body’s first attempt to ask you for water. Ignoring your body’s wants and needs leads to poor health.

Mom’s Healthy Living Guide Step 5: Exercise

As I mentioned before what you eat is far more important than exercise. However, exercise is still important for long-term health. Specifically, cardio-vascular exercise. Weight lifting will tone your body and make it look more appealing, but really isn’t necessary to be healthy.

Cardio, however, works out your heart and lungs. You need these muscles to stay strong. My dad was always really on it with running. That was his cardio of choice. When he was in the hospital with cancer, he had a heart attack during chemo-therapy. They doctors said the only reason he survived was because his heart was so strong from years of cardio.

This always stuck with me through the year. You never know what your life is going to throw at you in the future, and it’s important to prep your body for the worst. Keep your heart and lungs strong, your breath is so precious. Seeing elderly or sick people struggle for breath, always made me appreciate my lungs and want to prep them for later.

Breathing hard and raising your heart rate for 30 minutes a day could save your life one day.

That’s not the only advantage to cardio, however. Exercise makes you feel better. It helps combat stress, and if you exercise outside, it helps you interact with nature. People with increased interaction with nature tend to be happier. 

Again, this should make sense, since we all come from nature. I saw this beautiful picture on Facebook, and I just loved it.

It was captioned with “We breathe in what they breathe out, and we breathe out what they breathe in.” Such a beautiful way to remember that everything on this earth was meant to live symbiotically with everything else. In order to be truly healthy, it’s important to embrace that concept.

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