how we do... [staying healthy]

(I realize the full weight of irony resting on the timing of this post, as Penelope is still recovering from her reaction to antibiotics, which were given to treat her case of strep throat.  We clearly do not have everything figured out.)

A friend of mine asked the other day how our kids seem to stay so healthy.  While it is the case that our kids are rarely sick, I think most of it is just luck of the draw, which feels so farty to say to someone who is struggling through a long stretch of family sicknesses.  "We're not all that on top of things, we're just fortunate.  Good luck, and you're welcome."  See?  I felt like a fart.

However, while I don't have a magic bullet up my sleeve (or, rather, in my magic gun), there are a few things I do to try to keep the kids' bodies as healthy as I can while a) still living real life, b) being realistic about the likelihood that they will, eventually, get sick, and c) not making the pursuit of health an idol.

That being said, our health routine around here basically involves two things:

When it comes to prevention, we use food as a health-builder.  I try to incorporate live or fermented foods with most meals.  This means sometimes they get a salad or a side of traditional sauerkraut with their breakfast.  They hate that, but tough noogies.  They have to eat it.  They eat a lot of produce, a lot of protein, a lot of real butter, and very limited sugar.  I make bone broth and sneak it in whenever I can.  We don't feed them snacks throughout the day - they get three meals, and a small dessert if they finish their dinner.  They don't always like what I serve, but they always have to eat at least some of it, if not all of it, and there are no alternative foods available ever.  (I sound like a drill sergeant, but it's really almost never a battle.  I can tell you about our mealtime routines and policies in a different blog post, if you're interested.)

Now, I realize this is a quick tangent, but as a culture, we are afraid of ever feeling hungry.  We orient our lives around making sure our kids never feel the discomfort of a single moment of healthy hunger, so we pump them full of snacks all day.  But I find that kids are less picky at mealtimes when they're sufficiently hungry when it comes time to eat, and this way they end up filling up their bellies with healthy, meal-type foods instead of sugary, starchy, snack-type foods (including too much fruit).  Now, my kids are still little and they don't require the calories an older, more active kid needs, so I'm not prescribing "No Snacks Between Meals Or Else!" as a lifestyle rule for all people.  But I will submit that this is how Susanna Wesley ran her house and raised her nineteen kids, and I am not one to knock the wisdom of Susanna Wesley.

When it comes to treatment, we are pretty hesitant to use interventions when they do get sick. Preventive medications and treatment medications all have short-term side effects and even long-term consequences on our overall health.  So we're really, really slow to utilize them until we know for sure they're necessary.  We tend to use a 'wait and see' approach.  We rarely use fever reducer unless the fever gets outrageously high, or if they can't sleep enough to allow their bodies to heal.  Fevers can actually aid in healing, so we're not quick to suppress them.  Sleep, sunshine, snuggling, limited activity and plenty of water (or breastfeeding) are frequently what little bodies need to kick an illness.  Sometimes we use things like garlic oil, ear candles, essential oils, diet adjustments, fermented cod liver oil, and probiotics to help aid healing.  (But obviously, if a kid needs a doctor and some meds, they need a doctor and some meds.  No one's being cavalier.)

And y'all, that's it.  I'm not an expert, and I think I've just gotten lucky with pretty healthy kids.  I feel like that self-righteous mom who tells you she got her newborn to start sleeping through the night by two weeks because she implemented the Baby Rock Star Sleep Boot Camp or whatever, and then her next kid just doesn't sleep and she realizes that it wasn't her A+ momming that got that baby to sleep, it was just dumb luck, and she has to face reality that sometimes stuff is just outside of her control and she should just reel in her condescending advice.  Whew.  Long sentence, weird metaphor, but all that to say, this is stuff we do at our house.  Also, our kids aren't sick all that much.  Perhaps one has something to do with the other, perhaps not.  Take it for what you will.


todd said...

You run a tight ship and we are very #blessed

Amanda Cushman said...

I love everything about the way you stay healthy. That's how it should be and you are a great example.