Fight like a Girl

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I feel it’s time to explain why we have converted to a flexitarian diet. For anyone who has not heard of flexitarianism, that means we eat a mostly vegetarian diet (in our case, a mostly vegan diet, really) but we are flexible about it. We are not anti ever having meat but only have it on those occasions where we eat at someone elses home or go out to eat and there are no vegetarian/vegan friendly options. We do not beat ourselves up over having meat now and then because the occasional meat product is built into our defined dietary lifestyle. If you go to our home, though, we are vegetarians 99.9% of the time here.

So why? First, I have seen myself moving in this direction for years but just was not willing to cross the line and accept it. We are very concerned about the hormones in food. Yes, I know Tyson claims that their chickens are hormone free. They’re lying. They do not administer it directly to the chicken so they are able to say that but it is in the chickens food. Plus, if you have ever seen how these chicken are raised, you would know they aren’t healthy animals. Free range my booty. They aren’t smashed into individual cages, they are free to roam a shelter that they are crammed into so tightly together that it’s rare for one to make it to the entrance of the little outdoor area they are given. Many of these chickens are so overweight they cannot even walk. We eat morbidly obese chickens and then wonder why we have an issue with obesity. Trying to buy all truly organic, healthy chicken is no easy challenge where I live. The one corner that they keep the organic meat in may or may not have any and if they do it costs an arm, a leg and your first born child to eat it more than a few times per month. It just was not practical to be an every day meat eater who avoided growth hormones in the meats.

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I went on to read all about Dr. Joel Fuhrman and his “nutritarian” lifestyle (he’s pretty much a vegan). He is pretty cool and has awesome information. I learned a lot about nutrition from him and just how much protein we get from sources not meat. I learned about making the majority of our diets out of nutritionally dense foods. In his book “Live to Eat” he acts like he’s all chill. He puts out the challenge, specifically for weight loss, that you only have to go 6 weeks without meat. He knows a 6 week commitment is a lot easier for people than a lifetime commitment. He also knows that the person following his plan will get pretty used to eating meatless during that 6 weeks. It’s amazing how little you miss meat once you break that barrier of going weeks without it! In his book he eases you in but when you get deeper into his lifestyle, the man is not nearly as chillaxed about foods. He believes just one unhealthy meal could kill you (and he is probably right) and he is not a fan of ever veering from this strict diet. While I love him and his teachings, I’m a bit too human to commit to them 100% of the time. He is great for getting started, though. He did a fantastic job giving me the tools I needed to want to eat healthy and feed my family healthy. I also really love his book on getting kids to eat healthy too. He gives fantastic tips and it has helped me work with my ultra picky eater so much.

Then I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives. This was a total mind blow for me. They go into detail on cancer study’s with meat and the results were insane. Whether eating organic or non organic meat, meat always lead to growth in cancer cells in the body and the removal of meat from a diet REVERSED the effects and shrunk the cancer cells. This study was repeated and performed several times amongst different groups (and mice) and it was always the same. More meat meant more cancer. That wasn’t all they had but the only way to fully grasp the awesome revelation of this documentary is to watch it. It’s on Netflix and free on Amazon’s instant demand thing if you have amazon prime (not sure for those without prime memberships but i’m guessing it’s still cheap). It’s worth the watch!

After all of this, we decided it was best to cut it. It was hard at first. We had to relearn how to eat and even change our expectations of what a meal looks like. We started with committing to “meatless Mondays” just to get a grasp on the entire meatless concept. It quickly grew into doing most our week meatless to most of the month meatless to us going months without having meat in the home. We get plenty of protein through broccoli (my kids favorite), peas, kale, spinach, beans, lentils, occasionally some tofu- though I’m not big on “replacement meats” because we expect them to be like meat too much. You have to learn to eat foods for what they are and not expect a bean burger to taste like a meat burger.  My kids love to drink Silk almond milk, which is B12 fortified, as well as full of calcium and protein and tons of other vitamins. While we do a lot of dairy replacements instead of having cows milk products- my kids still get organic yogurt and cheeses and the very occasional pack of organic chicken nuggets or organic bacon to go with a breakfast.

And there is no guilt about having meat when we do. As a flexitarian its built into my acceptable diet to have meat sometimes. I desire to be healthy and raise kids to love healthy eating but we also only live once. So that is our so far story. We’ve been on this road for about 8 months now and still really happy with it. I rarely crave a meat product and when I do.. I eat it. It usually leaves me feeling like it wasn’t worth it and its a good while before I crave it again.
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Welcome to the January 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Recovering from the Holidays This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about how their families get back to normal after the holidays are over.
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Our Holiday Season has come to a close but some of the bad habits that came with it have not. After eating to our hearts delight and keeping way more candy, chocolates, and all around carb and sugar filled foods in the house, my family has that sweet tooth habit to kick. Us adults know this and prepare for it. We make New Years resolutions (and might even still be sticking to them!) but our kids need a new start just as much. All my girls need are 1-2 days of heightened amounts of junk to forget that we are a healthy family. The good food strikes begin and the expectations for sweets are high. So here are some ways to help your littles kick their sweet toothers.

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1- Get it out of Reach
Hide it, put it in a closet, or even just throw it away! The junk needs to be away from their reach and their vision. They can’t know where it is or see you snacking on it either. The goal is to get it out of sight, out of mind. If you throw it away, though, don’t do it in their view or in a way that will torment them. Remember, the goal is just to get the temptation out of the house, not to punish our children.

2- Stock up on Healthy Snacks
Fill your house with apples, bananas, grapes, berries, carrots, celery, peanut butter (or almond butter or whatever you use), raisins, unsalted nuts, sunflower seeds… hey, you can even keep some goldfish in the house (at least there are no dyes in them) as an “after some fruits and veggies” snack! You want to give them options. Yes, the junk is gone but their choices are not. They still have a wide range of great options from sweet to salty for every mood. They may decline their options a few times but just hold out and eventually, they will find one of their options favorable.

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3- Do Not cave in
Your children will not starve themselves. I know what it is like to start doing the math of how much they weigh, vs how tall they are, vs how much they run in the day and KNOW there is no way they have much spare to live off of. Still, they won’t starve themselves. The starving kids in those Africa commercials never turn their noses up at that muck stew they are being served. That is because they are hungry! Your child wont get anywhere near as hungry as one of those kids before deciding to settle for a healthy option. If they are able to hold out and say they won’t eat any of those options, guess what? They are not that hungry.

4- Don’t Stress about it
Do you know what happens when you freak out or get anxious about your child eating healthy foods? They connect healthy foods to anxiety mentally. If you are yelling or getting upset over them eating (or not eating) their healthy foods, then they are probably getting stressed about those healthy foods too. Just seeing them on their plate could likely start giving them an uneasy feeling in the pit of their stomachs. Stay relaxed! If they eat, fantastic! If they don’t, try to stay calm and mellow and rational. After all, we are trying to raise children who grow to be adults that love eating and living healthy. If salads and veggies give them anxiety as adults and reminds them of mommy stomping around her kitchen in a huff, they probably won’t want much to do with those healthy foods even as adults.

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So good luck and have fun. Maybe let your child pick out their own healthy option from the grocery store to get them pumped about the snack they picked out themselves. Eat healthy too and talk up how much you love your healthy foods. Have fun and find delight in filling your home back up with vibrant, delicious foods.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting this March!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 14 with all the carnival links.)

  • Pinterest Inspiration for Easier Winter Holidays Shannon, writing at Natural Parents Network, shares inspiration for having more relaxed winter holidays from their Handmade Holidays Pinterest board.
  • Seven Recipes for Beans – Post Holiday Cleaning — Destany at They Are All of Me shares her favorite bean recipes that she hopes will help her body recover from overindulging her sweet tooth during the holidays.
  • The Recovery in the Change — Laura at Pug in the Kitchen made changes in her life and attitude throughout 2012 and was pleasantly surprised at how those changes impacted her holiday recovery!
  • Could this question change your life for ever? — To get your new year off on the right footing, Mrs Green of Little Green Blog is challenging us all to love ourselves with commitment and discipline. She asks you to focus on a simple question which might just bring you back in balance…
  • Holiday Recovery — Meegs at A New Day talks about how the holidays can be overwhelming for a toddler, and how she’s helping her 3 year old recover.
  • 5 Ways to Detox After the Holidays — Brittany at The Pistachio Project gives a few ways to help you detox and get back on track after the holiday season has passed.
  • 3 Simple Ways to Establishing Rhythm After the Holidays or Any Time — Sheila at A Living Family shares 3 simple ways to reestablish a rhythm of connection and calm in your family after holidays, visitors, travel or any time.
  • Gemstones For Holiday Hangoverss — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama delves into the power of gemstones as an often overlooked means of dealing with the holiday letdown.
  • Getting back to Healthy — Bess at A Warrior Mom talks about the struggle of getting young ones back to eating healthy after several days to weeks of getting more candy and sweets than normal for the holidays and gives some suggestions on how to get them back to eating healthy in the new year.
  • Post Christmas Juice Feast — Sam at Love Parenting explains why she has created a new tradition of juice feasting, and how she includes her toddler when detoxing.
  • The Java Monkey On My Back — Christy at Eco Journey in the Burbs realizes it is time to kick her cup of Joe habit as a first step toward detoxing.
  • Minimalist Holidays — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn’t find much need for recovery after her minimalist version of the holidays.
  • Do something for you — Lauren at Hobo Mama urges you to find a silly and indulgent reward of me-time — and she has hers.
  • do we recover? — Kenna at Million Tiny Things wonders what recovery really means in the context of the tragedies of this past holiday season.
  • 37 Easy Ways to Save Money — Shannon at GrowingSlower is sharing these money-saving tips to help get your budget back on track after the holidays.
  • A Two Year Old’s ResolutionsThat Mama Gretchen is putting the holidays behind her with a spin on traditional resolutions — New Year’s goals for her two-year-old! Sound crazy? Read on for an explanation!
  • How to Find Balance after the Holidays — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells her favorite ways to start a new year with hope and calmness.
  • Fresh Awakening — For Luschka at Diary of a First Child, the new year has coincided with a return to restful nights. With sleep, she’s found new directions in life, but while she can’t make too many changes to her life right now, she’s inspired and excited about the future.
  • Learning to slow down after a busy Festive Season Stoneageparent describes the joys and lows of this year’s festive season, as well as her New Year’s resolutions.
  • Detoxing’ Your Toddler After the Holidays — Does your family suffer side effects from the holidays? Join Christine from African Babies Don’t Cry to learn how she detoxed herself and her toddler off the treats and festivities of the season.
  • Scheduling is OK! — Jaye Anne at Wide Awake, Half Asleep explores the possibilities of the — SCHEDULE!!
  • Holiday-Free but not Stress-Free — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot takes it easy after moving with her husband and new babies to Scotland.
  • A Vacation from the World — Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children retreats with her family at the end of every year in order to recuperate and enjoy one another.
  • On the Road to Recovery — Dionna at Code Name: Mama isn’t just recovering from the holidays, she’s recovering from a lifestyle.
  • We Never Left the GrindErika Gebhardt compares a typical day pre-holidays and post-holidays.
  • Remembering and Recovering from the Holidays (One day at a time) — Emily at S.A.H.M i AM is recovering from holidays slowly–taking one day at a time–while trying to remember all the sweet moments that passed too quickly.
  • 5 a Day — To get back on track Jennifer at True Confessions of a Real Mommy needed a simple system to help her family learn new values.
  • Holiday Detox & Healing: Bieler Broth — Megan at The Boho Mama shares her secret for a gentle, whole-foods-based post-holiday detox: Bieler Broth!
  • I’m Mama Not Supermom — After a year filled with changes Angela at EarthMamas World has to remind herself that she does not have to be supermom while recovering from the holiday chaos.


Today I was reading an article my friend posted on Facebook from a few months back where a 14yr old was given $40,000 worth of cosmetic surgery (ears pinned back, nose job and chin reshaped) because of bullying. I found this horrific and a shame, since the bullying will probably just continue in other ways since kids just find other reasons to bully- like bullying a 14yr old peer for having had cosmetic surgery. Also, though, the lesson the mother just taught her daughter, that beauty is more important than being you and having other peoples approval of how you look is worth any cost. When I saw the before and after photo’s of the article all I could think was, “This girl had not even grown into her face yet. I bet she would grow to be a gorgeous looking girl either way!”. I then had to challenge my own thought because does it even matter if she grew to be gorgeous? Why should it matter so much and who decides what it means to be pretty anyway!?
prettyWhen I looked up the definition of pretty, I found it is not even that great to be pretty. Attractive in a delicate way? Well, I don’t want to be delicate. I’m a woman, not a rose. Oh, and I love the emphasis on not being attractive enough to be beautiful either. So, maybe pretty should be an insult?
“Oh honey, you are just so pretty!”
“Pretty? Pretty!? You mean I’m not beautiful! That’s it, I’m off to go eat a container of ice cream and call around looking for plastic surgeon recommendations! After all, I’m a liberated woman, damn it, and If I choose to be beautiful then that is my free chose!”

Of course, as they always are, my kids are in the back of my mind with all of this too. How do I raise my three daughters to be confident women with so much up against them? Even their own mom fails regularly in this department. While I emphasize health, my goal is partly attractiveness for motivation to lose weight. What kind of example is that to my girls? And when I tell them how much I love their hair, or eyes, or skinny minny belly buttons- is that sending them a message that their looks are priority, when there are so many other defining factors that I feel are more important to focus on?
I read one paragraph of this article that hit me hard and really turned my focus to my own kids. “As my friend writer Jaclyn Friedman once said to me, the problem isn’t that girls don’t know their worth—it’s that they absolutely do know their value in society. Young women know exactly how ugly the culture believes them to be. So when we teach girls to simply “love themselves”, we’re implicitly telling them to accept the world as it is. We’re saying that being beautiful is something worth having when we should be telling them a culture that demands as much is toxic.”

What do I need to do to help shift this focus? I’m a big follower of the Pigtail Pals blog and facebook page but I still feel a bit of loss and confusion in how to direct my words and actions to give my girls the best chance possible to overcome the over emphasis put on (young and older) women’s looks. I know it starts with challenging my own world views and that the more I strip the illusion of pretty from my own eyes- the more I can positively shape my girls view.

I remember a few years back my friend, who is an RN nurse, was telling me about how she went into a 4th grade classroom to talk about good health and do basic wellness checks with them. This included having each kid privately weighed. When it came time for kids to get in line to be weighed (the kids lined up in the classroom and waited for there turn there, while the scale was set up in the hall), nearly every girl in the room moaned with dread. When it came to weighing the children, the girls were just as horrified by being weighed as they were in the classroom. Even girls who barely touched 40 lbs covered their eyes and told her they didn’t even want to know. While I am sure they are are doing exactly as they have seen their mothers do in doctors offices and their own bathroom scales, I was amazed at how early this idea of weight being a negative factor in who one is sets in. I do not want my  daughters feeling horror around a scale. If they need to be weighed, I want them to bounce on, bounce off and go back to doing more interesting things that affect their 10yr old lives more, like climbing trees or riding their bikes, with no thought or care for what that scale even said. It should not define them. It should not affect their day or their feelings.

attractive Do you know what I think is pleasing and appealing to my senses? A child having fun, unaware and oblivious of a world that judges us on the outside. Teens of all body types, all kinda of noses, all kinds of ears and chins- laughing and being proud of who they are because they rock. Do you know what I find unattractive? A child or teenager thinking they should look and dress in a way that is “sexually alluring”. Yuck! How unnecessary is it for our kids to think that is how they should look? What happened to “confidence is attractive” concept because I much prefer the definition of attractive to be someone who is confident. Confident that they are rocking their unique to them features. Confident that their laughter brightens up a room or that they are intelligent enough to awe anyone they want. Confident that they are kids and they rule. Because lets face it, Kids rule!

Despite how many advertisements and commercials I have to see of photoshopped women, I do not want our society to decide what I think is attractive. I certainly do not want it deciding what any of my daughter’s self esteems should be. I pray to God that my daughters will be too busy loving who they are and goofing around with their friends to be thinking about plastic surgery when they are 14. I hope to God that by the time they are teens we are seeing more and more of a healthy balance of women types on TV and in magazines and that we put some standards on advertisers for how much editing they can do.

Please know, this is not an anti-skinny message. There a many naturally skinny women in the world and they are awesome. Just like there are many naturally curvy women and many naturally in the middle of those two types. We are all women. We are all fantastic and none of us should be having to work and think about pretty or attractive like we all probably do. JSPhotography is doing an incredible body image project where she is photographing all kinds of women and let me tell you, it’s awesome and empowering and fascinating! I love looking through her photos and seeing what brave woman stood up in front of her camera this week. But it still brings me back to this thought. Why does it matter if we are pretty? Why is our self esteem so tied into this concept of attractiveness? Why can’t we be more focused on our intelligence, bravery, sense of humor, achievements?
And then I see my oldest daughter gravitating the one naked (where do their clothes go?) barbie and I wonder how it is effecting her. I hope, like so many say, that they are meaningless toys and that with enough positive talk and influence that they are just harmless play things but I cannot convince myself that there is any truth in that. When even the toy isles (maybe even more so than any other part of a store) is saturated with messages about body image and portraying so much “attractiveness” that only comes in one or two bodies- I just cannot be made to believe that it is all harmless play. IMG_2444

I know I’m at a start of a long journey. A Journey to clear and fix my own mind. A journey to setting good examples, using good words, portraying healthy self esteem for my daughters to see. A journey of figuring out toys and what we want to expose our daughter to and what we want to allow but filter and what is crossing the line (Bratz and Monster High… are crossing the line!). I don’t want my children’s lives to be filled with sexualized toys and ideas. I want them to have fun and not worry. I want them to be healthy and happy. I want them to have role model parents who love life and love good health and love themselves without worry of what others think because we know who we are without others validations.