I am the crazy-busy mom of three healthy sprouts, Henry, 11, Mae, 7, and Charlie, 7. And wife to a wonderfully supportive husband, Rich. I say “wonderfully supportive” because he has tried all of my healthy “experiments” in the kitchen with a smile on his face and a kind word. Trust me, they have not all been worthy of that! I grew up in Pennsylvania in the 70s and 80s in a house full of love and lots of sweets. I have fond memories of nightly, home-cooked family dinners. All the food groups represented..a meat, a potato, a green, a white roll, and dessert. I think this is the way most of us ate back then because that is what dinner was supposed to look like. But as Oprah likes to say, “when we know better, we do better.” My mom has a sweet tooth which I definitely inherited, and we always had candy bars, homemade cookies or brownies on hand. My childhood friends always wanted to spend the night at my house on the weekends because we had the “fun” cereal. Count Chocula, Fruity Pebbles, you name it…Peanut Butter Cap’n Crunch was my favorite… what a comfort food for me! I am telling you this because I think it is important for you to know that I did not grow up eating hummus and carrot sticks! I didn’t know what hummus was until ten years ago. This whole health and wellness thing has been something I have been leaning into for about 12 years now.
Although I had been reading many health publications and generally cleaning up my eating since my mid-twenties, things really changed for me when I gave birth to my second son, Charlie, in January 2005. Before Charlie’s first birthday we knew he was allergic to dairy, especially eggs, and to all nuts. (Fortunately, he has outgrown all but the nut allergy.) For the first time in my life, reading labels at the grocery store became a matter of life or death. As I read the side of box after box of products I had eaten for years, a lightbulb went off. Hydrogenated palm oil? Maltodextrin? Really? It was in EVERYTHING! What WAS all this stuff? So many words I had never heard of and couldn’t even pronounce. How could any of these be good for us? I wanted an answer to that question!
I became passionate about reading all I could about healthy eating. Many articles I read referenced one or both of the following books: The China Study, by T.Colin Campbell, and/or Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Furhman. I read both. That was all it took, I was done. I readily admit that these books have sparked a little crazy in me! Cancer and heart disease almost entirely preventable? Why didn’t I know about this earlier? Why doesn’t all of America know about this? Why are cancer patients given a date to come back for chemo and heart disease patients scheduled an open-heart surgery, while never ONCE being advised to change their diets dramatically? Well, read the China Study if you want the answer to that one. Changing our eating habits is hard, really hard…but it has to be easier than taking multiple pharmaceuticals or dying of a terrifying illness.
This is scary stuff, but it doesn’t have to be this way. I felt a shift after I read those books, like I finally knew what I was put on this earth to do. To help spread the word of health and wellness through nutrition and leading a balanced life. I do not believe that you have to give up your favorite foods, count calories, or exercise like a maniac! What I focus on is YOU, the individual, and making changes that will stay with you forever!
Let’s teach our children how to shop the perimeter of the supermarket, stay away from the boxes of processed food, and cook up a delicious, yet simple and healthy meal. I hope to help busy parents do just that, and heck, we might just have a bit of fun along the way! If we teach our children a new way to think about the food they put into their bodies, we will be growing healthy sprouts for many generations to come!
Peace and greens, Melissa
To find out more about my education and health coaching services to go www.melissacaira.com.