23 Feb 2014 Inspiring through healthy eating
by Brittany Gilbert
I’ve been fortunate to know several inspirational women. The common theme among them always seems to be that they inspire by the incredible example they display.
When I look at my own life and reflect on how I could best be an inspiration to others, one area stands above the rest — motherhood. I will never be more impactful — for good or bad — than I am through being a mother. I’ve seen this play out firsthand in our first son’s eating habits.
Our oldest son, Canaan, ate very well for the first 18 months of his life. When it was time, I even made all of his baby food with organic fruits and veggies. Everything was fresh and healthy, and he loved nearly every food he tried, with the exception of avocado. His favorites were peas, broccoli and butternut squash with cinnamon.
His diet was so healthy; he didn’t have sweets until his first birthday when he tried his very own cupcake. While at first skeptical, he eventually dove in and couldn’t get enough. Needless to say, his diet didn’t at all reflect my husband’s and mine. We were processed, caffeinated and high on sugar.
By the time he was 2, Canaan no longer preferred his healthy, organic foods. He was swayed over to the dark side. It wasn’t hard to do. It was all a matter of letting our guards down. Instead of trying to eat well as a family, we slowly began to expose him to our bad habits.
We know that our children learn from us. If we never introduced Canaan to the world of fast and processed foods, he would never know the difference and would probably still enjoy all of the healthy foods he used to. How can we expect him to eat well if we don’t? Now, we are trying to set a better example, especially me.
When I was pregnant with Canaan, I was diagnosed with preeclampsia. We thought it was a one-time thing and I would never think about high blood pressure again. Wrong! When I was pregnant with our second son, Declan, I had gestational hypertension. This became a real thing that I was going to have to deal with even after being pregnant. I began to do research and found that hypertension is treatable and even reversible with diet and exercise — two things I hadn’t thought about in a long time. Well, now I had to, and in a way I’m glad I do. As soon as we left the hospital with Declan, we started watching documentaries on Netflix about clean eating and how the foods you eat determine your health and well being. Our previous diets were setting us up for some real problems in the future — not just for us, but also for our kids.
If only we were eating the same way we were feeding Canaan for the first 18 months of his life. He wouldn’t have been exposed to the processed, high sugar, caffeinated world we were living in, and we wouldn’t have to work so hard to re-introduce him to healthier foods.
As women, when we think of being an inspiration to the people we love, we probably rarely think of being a role model through healthy eating. But it’s an example that we can set that can have very real life or death consequences. Be conscious of your eating habits and how they impact the people you influence!
Brittany Gilbert is a FACS teacher at Maumelle High School. She and her husband, Levi, have two sons and live in Conway. Brittany can be reached at [email protected].