Being a parent is probably my biggest challenge. I have been through college under grad and gradschool, I work hard to help improve the health of my patients (which doesn’t really end when the office doors are closed), and run my own business. Still the challenge of raising 2 young boys never leaves my mind.
Obviously their health and well being is a priority for my wife and I. We have been blessed to never have had a major health challenge with either one of our boys, but as any parent knows seeing a child not feeling well or not as healthy as they could be is a difficult thing.
I’ve spoke to many parents in my almost 10 years as a chiropractor, and I can’t think of any that would say the health of their children isn’t a priority. The scariest thing about parenthood however is perceived lack of control. While we never know what tomorrow will bring for our health or the health of our children, as in anything success leaves clues.
Parents of healthy children do a few things differently. Here are a few of the things I have learned over the years of being both a parent and a doctor.
1) Stop blaming your genes
I have a family history of stroke, heart disease, breast cancer, thyroid cancer, skin cancer, and on and on. It’s really depressing to think about for my own well being, and to think that is only about ½ of the equation for my boys is that much more depressing.
But I have found that families not only have the same genes, but they also have the same lifestyle. The Centers of Disease Control now estimates that 80% of diseases are lifestyle driven. In other words don’t blame your genes for something you can control.
While we don’t have time to go into it here, a new field of study called epigenetics is now proving what we thought about genetics wrong.
Think of it this way. If we found out today that all of the fish in Lake Erie had cancer, would way say there must be something wrong with their genes or would we say what’s wrong with the water?
Think of your genes as the recipe book to put together a delicious dinner. If you have the perfect recipe, but use cheap ingredients you will never have the same results as if you use the best ingredients you can find for your recipe. With our genes if we are providing substandard nutrients to our body will have substandard health.
2) Your kids will mimic you, so make sure you are making the right choices
After New Year’s day I try to set aside 21 days to do a post holiday purification program. During the 21 days I typically have a whole food shake for breakfast and as part of my lunch. My shakes have kale, barley, carrot, flax, rice protein, and grape seed extract to name a few ingredients. Guess who else HAS to have a shake too!
While I will be the first to admit I am not perfect by any means, I do my best to try and live the life I want them to copy. Eating habits are close to the top of the priority list. While there are still occasional arguments about eating that any parent with a 3 year old has, my son eats fruit and vegetables every day and we put a limit to the junk he puts in his body.
3) Shakes are a great way to hide foods your child won’t eat
Like I just mentioned, my son loves a shake in the morning. When I have parents who have a difficult time getting their children to eat their fruits and veggies, shakes are generally a great go to. Some frozen fruit and water in a blender works wonders.
The more your children like the shakes and start to ask for them, feel free to start adding other things. Avocado and spinach are great in shakes, have high nutritional value, and generally blend to a nice smooth consistency.
4) Ditch the sugar (real or fake)
I am happy to say that if you asked my 3 year old if he wanted a Pepsi, Coke, Mt. Dew or some other soda he wouldn’t know what he would be getting. To my knowledge he has never drank a soda, unless grandma and grandpa are sneaking some when I’m not looking :).
Ever wonder how much sugar is in a can of soda? Look on the back of the can and think of it this way, a sugar packet sitting on the table at your favorite local restaurant is one gram of sugar. If your child has a drink with 21 grams of sugar, it’s the same as your child eating 21 packets of sugar. I don’t know any parents in their right mind who would let their child eat that many packets of sugar in one setting, let alone on a regular basis.
Believe it or not most fruit juices are just as bad. We try to limit our kids to one glass of juice per day, and even then his juice is half juice and half water to cut the sugar intake. Once again read the juice label and use the same trick as you do with soda to see how much sugar your child is really getting in one serving of juice.
P.S. Raw or frozen whole fruit is okay because you also get fiber with the sugars. Fiber is really important for the health of their digestive system and gut. If you just drink all of the juice from the fruit you get all of the sugar with none of the fiber.
5) Have regular chiropractic check-ups
This one often shocks parents, but I adjust my children.
No, they don’t have back pain, neck pain, or headaches.
Most people don’t realize this, but when your spine is misaligned and not working properly it irritates the nerves that exit your spine. These nerves are the communication lines between your brain and your body, so any interruption in the communication causes dysfunction in the natural brain body communication process. You physically can only feel about 10% of your nervous system. The other 90% controls organ and muscle function, but physically can not interpret pain.
Ear infections, asthma, colic, constipation, sleeping issues, headaches/migraines, ADD/ADHD, bed wetting, headaches, fever, colds, and a variety of other conditions have shown improvement with regular chiropractic care. For more information and chiropractic research on conditions like those mentioned above check out www.icpa4kids.org.
But even if you child doesn’t have a “condition” there is still benefit. A 10 year insurance claim review showed people who were under regular chiropractic care saw a 60% decrease in overall hospital admissions, 62% decrease on outpatient procedures, and a whopping 85% decrease in overall pharmaceutical costs! Click here for more info.
I don’t know about you, but if there was one thing I could do to ensure less need for medication, hospital admissions, and surgeries for my children I am going to do it. Something as affordable as a chiropractic adjustment is a no brainer for our family.
The Bottom Line
In the book “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren the first line of the book says it all, “It’s not about you.” When we look at starting any new exercise program, changing our eating habits, or doing anything to improve our health we have to remember it’s not only about improving our health.
If 30 years from now your children were as healthy as you are today, would you want that for them?
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