Serena Silberman is a natural fertility and women health trainer. Adam Silberman is a naturopathic primary care physician. They live in Cardiff by the Sea with their two young sons.
Looking at our lives, we were both definitely influenced by the evolution of fast food and the growth and promotion of what is now commonly called the “standard American diet”. Cheerful foods, hot pockets, pop-tarts, Captain Crunch, you mention it. Whether it was fast, affordable, pre-packaged, microwave or by car, it would be a key element in our growing lives. We both grew up in foster families with two full-time working parents. Although our parents loved the food and the family / community around it, cost and convenience were the advantages when it came to feeding our families.
Long before we got married and had our children, Adam grew up as an obese child, constantly excited because of his size. He was fraught with asthma, eczema and allergies during his lifetime growing up. Serena was constantly sick with ear infections and sore throats, relying on medication almost every month for support. Until the 1990s when we both challenged food charts and conventional thinking about food at the time we were able to change our health concerns. Eating in a different way, we began to see the power of food as medicine.
As we became parents, connecting our children with their food in a way that they understood the impact of food on every aspect of their lives and the environment became one of our core values.
We want our children to thrive, not just survive. So here are some of the things we knit in our family structure to integrate food into our lives.
1. Grow a small garden. We have a small yard. But we can harvest some plants all year round, and our kids love it. They choose the cherry tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries we grow, just to name a few. Interestingly, they do not eat tomatoes from the grocery store, but love fresh ones from our garden. We try to get our kids to eat every color of the rainbow, every day, so they have a diet rich in phytonutrients, and by including them in their food, it makes it a lot easier to do.
2. Involve your children in food choices for the day. Every morning we talk about what vegetables and fruits they want to pick from the rainbow and eat that day. They eat at least five vegetables and two fruits. They also choose their protein for the day, and we make sure they eat at least the size of their palm in protein three times a day, too. By engaging them in the morning with the decision-making for the day, we avoid fatigue and the things of the night “I do not like that dinner”. When they choose it in the morning, it helps to empower them to take care of their bodies. They also choose the amount of palm-sized protein they will have three times a day and healthy fats like nuts, avocado or olive oil extra on the foods they will have. When they have eaten those foods, they know that their bodies will grow and have a healthy immune system.
3. Read the labels carefully. We look at the list of ingredients of everything that will go into my baby’s mouth because we know it will affect their mood, growth, microbiome and epigenetics. We limit sugar for serving size to less than 10 grams, and this can be a tricky thing because so many things like fruit sticks and baby bags and juices are too high in sugar for their little bodies . Ten grams of sugar is two teaspoons. Would you give your child two tablespoons of sugar per tablespoon? Many parents have experienced what happens on birthdays or Halloween, as insane sugar intake leads to insane energy and then a crazy tantrum and energy bump. But we often do not realize that we are giving children too much sugar at the same time when it is in the foods we put in the lunch boxes or the juice boxes we give them. Sugar has a very significant effect on the immune system. If you do not want your children to have as many sick days as possible, look for low-sugar foods like turkey sticks, nuts and seeds.
Simply put, it’s hard to do, but trust us, it’s totally worth it. Our children play. They are balanced and coordinated, they love learning, they are emotionally stable (well, most of the time) and a real joy to be around. And our lives are shaken.
Nutrition of healthy and resilient people is more important now than ever before. Hopefully this will inspire you to put food as a priority in your family and make it a little easier for you to do so.