Sunday, January 16, 2011

Feeding Children (part one)

I am passionate about many things, but mostly food. And my children. And feeding my children. I started really paying attention to what and how I ate in my early twenties, actually, long before I had children. I had a chronic pain condition and in an effort to be more knowledgeable about holistic medicine and healthy eating I discovered Dr. Andrew Weil. I grew up eating well but as I read a book by Dr. Andrew Weil I discovered that there was a lot more to food than calories and nutritional content.

I began a personal food journey of committing myself to as much organic food as possible. Sometimes I could afford more, sometimes less. But this was something that became very important to me. Without even understanding all the science behind it, I really felt that GMO food had to be bad for me. I continued to learn more, became a better cook, and eventually found myself falling in love with my future husband over really good barbecued steaks and red wine.

My husband was a cook when we met and loved good food. My food journey continued as he and I adopted a balanced approach to healthful eating. We simply eat the best food we can. Quality, origin, nutritional value, environmental and social impact- these are some of the values that we have about food. I have joked (or not) that food is my religion. And I don't mean any disrespect to the religious community, but it is the best way to describe to people how important it is to me. (a story about this later)
A few years ago, my doctor asked if I was planning to have kids. I laughed. I couldn't imagine having my life together enough to have kids. Nevertheless, she suggested that I start taking folic acid supplements and do some blood work (especially for cholesterol as it is a risk factor in my family). The idea behind the folic acid was to get my body ready for childbearing. When we actually started to think about having a family, I started to take this whole "getting ready" thing seriously. I was already in good health but the idea that my body was responsible for making and nurturing our child made my commitment to good food even stronger.

This is when feeding our children started. By the time I was pregnant, I was in my best health ever. And my pregnancy diet was picture perfect (with a few treats thrown in of course!) Eating well during my pregnancy gave me more energy and I truly believe helped to contribute to the development of a perfectly health baby girl. (Incidentally, she is now a toddler who loves a vast array of foods, and again, I'm no scientist, but I think my pregnancy diet had something to do with this. After all, the only food she doesn't like is mushrooms- the only food that I couldn't stomach during pregnancy)

Feeding my daughter became my greatest passion. I really didn't know much about breastfeeding when we had our baby. In fact, it scared me a little. The nurses at the hospital taught me how to latch her on. Breastfeeding wasn't easy at the start. This is something that I definitely want new moms and moms-to-be to hear- breastfeeding isn't always easy or doesn't necessarily come naturally. But it is totally worth it to stick with it. With my first baby the struggle was overproduction of milk. It was frustrating but I researched and tried and did everything I could to make it work. Eventually we got things working well and breastfeeding became really enjoyable. The bonding is undeniable. I know that some women can't or choose not to and I respect that. But it is worth trying. I went back to work early and continued to pump and feed her at home. I breastfed until she was one and weening happened in a very natural way- it was just time. And time for Mama to have a glass of wine with Dad after a long hiatus from red wine!
Next up...part two...Introducing Solids- my experience providing my infant with quality food and "training" her body to want the right stuff.