Our Healthy Easter Basket Tradition

As Easter is fast approaching, I thought many parents might consider offering a new healthy Easter Basket to their children this year, especially if I shared some rather disturbing statistics regarding health issues that are escalating among our youngest population. Why do I step outside the norm and choose to offer my family only healthy options at all times, including holidays? Having lived through so many ailments as a child, and healing my body to become full of great health and energy over the past 35 years, I decided there was no other option, but to live a life that incorporates only nutrient-rich whole plant foods along with ongoing movement into my life and to my daughter's lives as well. Often I'm asked by parents why their children are getting so many ear infections, upper respiratory illnesses, unable to focus, difficulty sleeping, chronic constipation, and the list goes on and on. Think about these prevalent health problems where we’re seeing such a dramatic increase in numbers of children with these serious issues. ADHD is the most common neurobehavioral disorder diagnosed in children, and its incidence is growing. There was a 22 percent rise in ADHD occurrences in the United States between 2003 and 2007. Today, about 9.5 percent of school age children have ADHD.1 Poor nutrition is a major concern as dietary factors have been linked to ADHD risk in scientific studies. Providing proper nutrition is imperative. High sugar intake is associated with hyperactive behavior and ADHD.2-3 Childhood obesity rates have escalated over the past 40 years. Obesity rates doubled in preschoolers and more than tripled in 6-11 year olds and adolescents between the late 1970’s and 2008. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17% of American children are currently obese.4 Even though children do get less exercise than in past generations, diet is the biggest factor to childhood obesity.5 Children who carry additional weight, are at risk of future health problems. Approximately 3,600 American children are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes each year, and may face serious complications from this disease.6 According to the Bogalusa Heart Study, 70 percent of obese children have at least one cardiovascular disease risk factor and 39% have two or more risk factors.7 Another study that followed American children for 24 years found that childhood obesity was the greatest risk factor for a premature death due to chronic disease.8 Growing up with chronic constipation into my early twenties, and seeing the numbers increase each year among my students suffering with this problem, has motivated me to get the word out to as many people as I can how to eradicate this condition. Constipation is most often caused by low intake of water, lack of physical activity, and a low-fiber diet, associated with the American diet and inactive lifestyle. A landmark study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that chronic constipation could also be a manifestation of intolerance to cow's milk.

When my daughters were growing up, I took my role as a parent so seriously…some may say too seriously, but to each his own! No regrets here! My husband, at the time, was a family practice Physician’s Assistant, and talked often about the many families he saw each day that were suffering with such illnesses. At the time, organic food wasn’t an option for us to buy in our local stores, and physicians didn’t realize the incredible role that food played in our health and longevity; being able to prevent, halt, and even reverse many serious diseases.

After multiple miscarriages, God blessed me with children in my 30’s. I had already learned the importance of healing my ailments by eating a healthy diet that consisted of a Whole-Food, Plant-Based diet: Eating what God provided for us to consume! By removing toxins from my body, I was able to halt my illnesses from years of suffering with severe daily abdominal cramps and constipation that I had since I was a child, along with debilitating migraines, daily excruciating acid reflux, sinus and ear infections, and many miscarriages. I prayed that God would bless me with the ability to carry a baby full term, I would do my very best to give my children a healthy upbringing. I knew that God didn’t make mistakes and our temples/bodies were designed to fight off diseases and live long healthy lives full of vitality!

My girls were incredibly healthy from the start. While pregnant, even though I was on 9 months of bed rest for Alexandra, vomiting 24/7, I still knew the importance of eating healthy. When my girls were born, I nursed them for about three years each. This gave them a strong immune system and the best possible start to having a healthy childhood and beyond into adulthood! Once I introduced solid food into their diet, I stayed true to my knowledge of keeping processed food to a minimum, and staying away from the Standard American Diet. (SAD) With that, my girls never needed to see a doctor, unless it was for their yearly physicals. No need for antibiotics…just amazing healthy children!! Alexandra never missed a day of school!

When it came to holidays, I knew I wanted to continue to teach my children the importance of eating healthy and not needing to fall into the typical American way of eating sugary processed junk food. I wanted my girls to enjoy the excitement of all that goes along with holidays, including Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and Birthdays, naturally! So I incorporated healthy, organic whole foods and educational items to feed their bodies and mind, making each holiday fun and healthy! I do this with my Kindergarten students, as well!

Now that I’m a grandmother, I will continue to do the same for my granddaughter, Claire, when she visits me. I may go over the top for Claire, but that’s what Grandparents do…spoil our grandchildren!! They are our rewards, priceless gifts from God to honor us for raising children with good values, a strong work ethic, and unconditional love.

Here are some ideas that you might like to try with your children…and even for your spouse!

Healthy Easter Basket – Feed their body and mind!

* This is a combination of Claire's parents, grandmother, and Aunt Rox joining together to make Claire's Easter special, memorable, and healthy! When my girls were little, I would have a new Easter Dress, shoes, and hat included with the books, educational toys, and whole foods!! Continuing this same tradition with Claire!

I like to add the following items: All organic whole food! Carrots, Oranges, Apples, Grapes, Bananas, Nuts, Sprouted Mung Beans/Lentils, Books, Puzzles, Word Search Books, Cute Spring Clothes, Learning Toys, Dolls, Cross Earrings or Necklace to celebrate God’s love for us…Come up with ideas that are fun and healthy! Children won’t miss the typical junk food. Even my students enjoy our healthy Spring Garden Buffet and a visit from the Easter Bunny with large organic carrots! Isn’t that what a bunny would bring?!! Wouldn't it make more sense to a child that the Easter Bunny would bring food from its natural environment? Not only do we learn from the example of our parents and how they live their lives, but we also learn a great deal from nature and how the animals survive; we don't see wild animals experiencing epidemics of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. My students have learned by watching me model what I teach, living a truly healthy lifestyle, no matter what the occasion! My children and students haven’t missed out on anything! They actually tell me that they love the many flavors of the fruits and vegetables that are offered to them, rather than processed food. And, many continue to request that their parents buy them whole plant food for their snacks and lunches they bring to school each day. Start children eating healthy from the

start!

Going to church with my granddaughter, Claire, on Easter morning! She's wearing her new dress and cardigan sweater that she found by her Easter basket.

Give this a try with your family! You may be surprised and find that your children and spouse love living a healthy life, even on holidays! Start a new tradition this Easter! For me, I love knowing that I gave my family the healthiest life possible! No regrets!!

We are all works in progress and learn from each other. We’d love to hear your ideas, comments, and success stories!

Peace and Grace! 💖

Suz

REFERENCES

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Rate of Parent-Reported ADHD Increasing [http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/features/adhd-parent-reporting.html

2. Artificial food coloring and hyperactivity symptoms in children. Prescrire Int 2009;18:215.

3. Schnoll R, Burshteyn D, Cea-Aravena J: Nutrition in the treatment of attention- deficit hyperactivity disorder: a neglected but important aspect. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback 2003;28:63-75.

4. Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin LR, et al: Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA 2010, 303:242-249.

5. Eagle TF, Gurm R, Goldberg CS, et al: Health status and behavior among middle- school children in a midwest community: what are the underpinnings of childhood obesity? Am Heart J 2010, 160:1185-1189.

6. Overview of Diabetes in Children and Adolescents. From the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP). 20116.;. Freedman DS, Mei Z, Srinivasan SR, et al: Cardiovascular risk factors and excess adiposity among overweight children and adolescents: the Bogalusa Heart Study. J Pediatr 2007, 150:12-17 e12.

7. Franks PW, Hanson RL, Knowler WC, et al: Childhood obesity, other cardiovascula7. risk factors, and premature death. N Engl J Med 2010, 362:485- 493.

8. Maynard M, Gunnell D, Emmett P, et al: Fruit, vegetables, and antioxidants in childhood and risk of adult cancer: the Boyd Orr cohort. J Epidemiol Community Health 2003, 57:218-225.


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