How much healthy change is enough?

Shortly after our second child was born, he developed severe eczema and some nighttime fussiness. He was quickly diagnosed (via blood-test) with food allergies. This was a complete shock to us as we had no understanding of food allergies, nor did we have any family history of food allergies. At the time, I was extremely focused on our son and worried about how we were going to make food enjoyable for him, but I had NO idea that his diagnosis would be the beginning of a journey for our entire family. My husband and I are both former athletes. We have always exercised, eaten our veggies and had a general understanding of how a body works. But a little less than four years ago, as I began researching on the Internet and visiting natural food stores in search of allergen-free foods, a whole new - and confusing - world began to emerge.

As the information unfolded , I learned things that had never even been on my radar. It began with the central focus of food allergies and wanting to ensure that my little guy had a varied and nutritious diet, but knowledge of one topic bled to curiosity about another and another...and it has evolved into an entirely new way of life. For the most part, this is a really great development - a healthier lifestyle. We eat mostly organic meat, dairy and produce products. We avoid processed foods. I am aware of the many toxins that exist in our environment and what they can do to a body on a cellular level. I've learned about chiropractors, flax seed oil, grass-fed beef, Chinese medicine, Omega-3's, Juice Plus, homeopathic doctors and yoga. And while I would do anything to take away our son's food allergies, learning to deal with them has changed my understanding of whole body health in astounding ways.

Lately though, I am finding a new challenge that comes with information overload. How much change is enough? The questions snowball, and as a concerned mom, I want to do what is best for my family. But there are also issues of cost and practicality - and these must fit into the equation as well. The food changes were just the beginning. Incidences of cancer, diabetes, asthma, food allergies, autism, ADHD and many other diseases are on the rise and much, although probably not all, of the blame can be placed on the toxicity of our environment. But what does that mean for my family? What changes are both necessary and realistic for us? The questions seem endless. Do we buy all organic food? What supplements should we be taking? Should we eat less meat? What household cleaning products are safe? Are we recycling enough? Are there toxic chemicals in my furniture fabrics and mattresses? How can we safely care for our lawn or treat our house for pests? How do we stay away from genetically modified foods? What is the correct balance of Eastern and Western medicine? Is it okay to send things to the dry-cleaners? Are we exposed to too much radiation? Did I breast-feed long enough? Which is worse, the Deet in bug repellent or the risk of a mosquito-carried virus? How should we vaccinate our kids? Why is there aluminum and formaldehyde in vaccines? Do we need toothpaste, soaps and shampoos that are free of Sodium Laurel Sulfate? Is my paranoia of the sun, preventing my kids from getting enough Vitamin D? Were our plastic baby bottles safe? Why didn't I use low VOC paints? Is our drinking water toxic? What things deemed alright now, will be labeled detrimental in ten years? It is exhausting.

I now also have two out of three children with food allergies. I have some theories as to why, but will save those for a later post. I am trying to adapt where I can and I continue to learn more each day. I wrestle with "mommy-guilt" as I attempt to determine what level of change is good enough without making either myself (or my kids) insane and neurotic. It is a process and I am trying to be content with gradual progress. Overall, I feel good about our lifestyle overhaul...but at times, I am almost paralyzed by the amount and inconsistency of the information available. I suppose that some change is better than none, but occasionally I grow a bit tired of sorting through it all.

1 comment:

Kate said...

Oh my goodness, I got tired just reading that. I claim the ignorance is bliss on this one. ha ha. You'll have to tutor me on some of the things you're doing. Our family definitely could use some nutrition changes. I usually just feed them what they will eat, which sometimes isn't the healthiest. I'm feeling guilty now reading your post!!!! I will seriously have to pick your brain, though.
love ya.