Friday, August 31, 2007

Kid Feed in Utero

Eating healthy while pregnant has been an ongoing process for me that I continue to perfect. During my first pregnancy, DH and I were learning how to eat well. We still went to certain fast food restaurants occasionally, and I even remember partaking of some run-of-the-mill Costco desserts at my workplace. Shortly after Tie-Dye was born I called Taco Bell headquarters and asked for the ingredients of some of my favorite items. I was disappointed to find out that the taco meat contained sugar, and the tortillas had hydrogenated oil. Though it was difficult at the time, DH and I gave up Taco Bell for good. This encouraged us to come up with our own recipes to mimic Taco Bell food, and we developed a great Homemade Grilled Stuft Burrito recipe! (To view this recipe, click on the Comments section at the end of this blog post.)

By the time I was pregnant for the second time, my diet was substantially better. I no longer ate any refined sugar (until we went on a cruise during my seventh month and I know I ate sugar during that week!).

Now, during my third pregnancy, I've changed a few other things. This time I've been aiming for greater variety in my diet, including a lot more low mercury fish. For a great list of safe fish during pregnancy and child-bearing years check out the American Pregnancy Association's site. DH and I eat fish almost every morning for breakfast now. Another great benefit to this is that our boys eat more fish too. They love salmon or tuna sandwiches for lunch. We have been doing a 4-day rotation diet. This way we are constantly eating different fruits and veggies, proteins and whole grains. This is a big change for us. DH and I are both such creatures of habit. We would have been content eating our favorite same few things over and over again. Recently we've come to learn, however, that eating this way can cause the body to develop allergies to these foods. For instance, we used to eat eggs every day, often more than once a day. Same thing with cheese, spinach and wheat products. Now we are enjoying the tastes of new foods. Amaranth muffins, barley pancakes, corn grits, cream of buckwheat... it is a pleasant change to try new things!

As far as supplements go, I take one all-natural Rainbow Light pre-natal vitamin every morning, along with Carlson's fish oil and Vitamin C.

Something else I really enjoy, both when pregnant and not, is the delightful beverage called kefir. Kefir is packed full of pro-biotics (lots more than yogurt) and is great for the digestive system. Kefir is available in most health food stores, but you can make your own, as we do. For lots of great information about kefir check out Dom's Kefir site. My boys love it too, even though it's not sweet at all. It sort of reminds me of buttermilk.

Hopefully this new baby is benefiting from the varied diet I've been eating. There are no guarantees that anyone will have a healthy baby, but we pregnant mothers make a choice every time we put something into our mouths. We do have the power to eat the best foods possible while our babies are depending upon us for all their nutritional needs.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

SIGG Bottles

I began researching sippy cups for toddlers when Tie-Dye was under a year old. I kept coming across warnings about plastic and how it can leech chemicals into the water. But every sippy cup in existence seemed to be made of plastic. Then one day I stumbled across SIGG's website and was so excited to see they made children's bottles. They are made of light-weight aluminum, and the inside is coated with an FDA approved water-based lining that is guaranteed not to leech any aluminum. At the time, there weren't a lot of retailers selling these bottles in the U.S. Coincidentally, however, my dad happened to be in Europe at the time, and was going to Switzerland! I e-mailed him and told him about the SIGG bottles. When he came back to the U.S. he brought SIGGs for DH, me, and a cute Winnie the Pooh one for Tie-Dye.

Tie-Dye weaned at 18 months, and it was around that time that he started drinking rice milk, so we found a cute SIGG on Ebay for his milk. By the time Toosht came along it seemed to be a given that each of our kids would have a water SIGG and a milk SIGG. We found Toosht's at Whole Foods Market.

These bottles are great and last a long time IF you take proper care of them, which I admit, I did not. I used a regular bottle brush to clean them, and just recently noticed that the metal on the end of the bottle brush was scratching the inner linings. A whole lot of good that lining will do if it's scratched! I don't feel comfortable having our boys use the scratched bottles. Now I'm on a hunt for the best price for four new bottles, AND a SIGG bottle brush cleaner, made especially for the SIGG line. I think an Ebay store is going to be the best bet again. All in all I'm probably going to pay around $80 for the four bottles and the brush. To me, investments like this are totally worth it. Not only are we getting a quality product that lasts, but we are also protecting the health of our boys by avoiding plastic.

I am aware of a company that makes safe, plastic baby bottles and sippy cups. BornFree cups are made from a safe honey-colored plastic called Polyamide (PA) that is free of Bisphenol-A. Supposedly Babies R Us carries the cups, but I went today and they didn't have them and the woman running that department had never even heard of them. From the look of the cups on the BornFree website, they seem to me like they're more for older babies and young toddlers, and they are very expensive. I might consider trying one out with our third baby (coming this December!) if I can find one at Whole Foods, but my boys are used to their SIGGs and enjoy the fun, colorful scenes on their bottles. They also like the free flow of the drink, as opposed to many sippy cups that have a sort of vacuum on them, forcing the child to suck hard to get anything out. Again, good for babies, but not so good for older toddlers and preschoolers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Graham Crackers

Since our kids don't go to nursery school or preschool, their first experience with childcare is at our church. Around age one they graduate from the nursery to the "Toddler room" where they play outside for awhile, then come in for a snack and story time. The "snack" is always Honey Maid graham crackers. That sounds pretty harmless and tame, right? Graham crackers are a fun snack that millions of kids have grown up eating. But when I read the ingredients for these graham crackers, I knew I couldn't let my kids eat them.

Here's the ingredient list for Nabisco Honey Maid graham crackers:

Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Sugar, Graham Flour, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Honey, Calcium Carbonate (Source Of Calcium), Leavening (Baking Soda, Calcium Phosphate), Salt, Emulsifiers (Vegetable Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin), Vanillin-An Artificial Flavor

Sugar, high fructose corn syrup AND partially hydrogenated oil! Not to mention the artificial vanilla flavoring! I felt sick thinking about these innocent one-year-olds being fed such addictive junk. It was time to find an alternative that I'd feel okay having my boys eat once a week at chuch. A trip to Whole Foods was all it took. I discovered Mi-Del honey graham crackers.

Here's Mi-Del's ingredient list:

Whole Wheat Flour, Honey, Unsulphured Molasses, Soybean Oil, Leavening (Sodium Bicarbonate, Ammonium Bicarbonate), Salt, Soy Lecithin, Lemon Oil.

And my boys love them! Every Sunday morning DH packs up their little personalized Pottery Barn Kids lunch bags with containers full of Mi-Del graham crackers and off to church we go. They have never felt left out during snack time. The Sunday School teachers are informed that our boys can only eat snacks from their bags. They love their special crackers, and I have actually observed more than once other kids trying to sneak a taste of our boys' Mi-Dels!


My two boys (hereafter known as Tie-Dye and Toosht) have never eaten at a fast food restaurant. Yes, that's right. They have no idea what lies beneath the golden arches. They've never heard the term "Happy Meal."

DH and I have chosen to raise our children on the most natural foods possible. We learned the hard way, growing up eating junk food, that those things are addicting and very difficult to wean from later in life. We want our boys to have a better start than we had. We want them to know the pleasure and richness of natural flavors, untainted by additives and sugar. It was clear right off the bat that we wouldn't find what we were looking for in stores (at least not very often). If we wanted our boys to eat healthy foods, we'd have to make them ourselves.

Tie-Dye is almost four-years-old now, and we've learned that it's a challenge to raise a healthy family in this culture. What's really amazing is how much animosity and negative feedback we receive for eating differently than most people.

The way we eat has become more and more detailed and particular as we are constantly in the process of eliminating bad and substituting good, but here's the general idea:

Say NO to:
refined sugar (this, to us, includes evaporated cane juice)
hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils
artificial colors or flavors
hormone or antibiotic laden meats or dairy

Say YES to:
cold-pressed and other healthy oils
whole grains and unbleached flours
natural sweeteners (stevia, agave, honey, brown rice syrup)
organic fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy (when we can afford them!)

About that last one... We are a young family on a low budget, so eating healthy is already quite a stretch for us. But we do try to buy organic foods whenever we can afford them. When we can't, we look for the best options and wash our non-organic produce thoroughly.

Are we extreme? Yes, I think we are. And you'll see as you read that it's not always easy to eat this way. But is it worth it? Yes, I think it is! Someday my children will grow up and go out into the world with the freedom to choose their food, but I want them to have a solid foundation from the start!