From a Daughter
Food has been the center of my family's time and conversation for as long as I can remember - food, and the impacts of not eating healthy food. We discuss what are we eating, what we should be eating, what we aren't eating, our latest exercise regimes, how much weight we've gained, how much we've lost. And together as a immediate family we have gained weight, dieted, been overweight, been underweight, worked to love our bodies, survived a heart attack, had 6 kids, lost weight, decreased fried foods, let go of soda and highly processed foods, and committed to health. food is slowly becoming a health conversation, instead of a weight/appearance conversation. This is a generational shift. We are teaching each other as we learn new ways to grow and acquire food, store it, and cook it for optimum health.
In the past few years, I have watched my mother leading from the stove/countertop. As holidays are the major time we spend together, she has made that a time to practice our health together. Not overtly, not over the top - she knows we'd all resist in creative ways. But she has made changes that are improving our familial health. Here are a few which merit sharing:
1. SAVE THE VEGGIES: She is working with us (her three daughters) to end the overcooking of vegetables. Veggies are a major part of our holiday meals - green beans, collard greens, sweet potatoes, etc. Coming from the south, in our extended family cooking veggies often means adding bacon, maple syrup, brown sugar, a half stick of butter, cooking til everything is smushy soft, then covering with a crust of pecans and more butter. my mother has invited us to be part of the kitchen experience, and together we are increasing the salads, welcoming fresh green lettuce, lightly sauteed kale, briefly roasted brussel sprouts and beet salads to the table.
2. CUT THE SUGAR: Even though the part of me that is addicted to york peppermint patties is dismayed by this, my mom is stuffing our christmas stockings with a little less candy each year, replacing it with fruit and non-food options like nail polish, wool socks, and natural soaps. she's also breaking the habit of making multiple desserts - instead focusing on doing one dessert exquisitely, like a cake drizzled in dark chocolate homemade frosting.
3. SHARED PRACTICE: My mom is a deeply curious woman, always open to learning. In that spirit, she has been inviting us to bring our healthy practices home - joining us for walks, yoga, tasting our green smoothies and juices, loving my sister's homemade jams, my uncle's homemade peach chutneys, all made with ingredients from their gardens. Whatever she sees us learning about health and food justice she invites us to practice in her home.
4. GOING GREEN: Mom understands that wholistic health includes a positive proactive relationship with our environment, so she engages in year-round composting, taking reusable grocery bags to the store, and recycling.
5. MAKING MEMORIES: I have noticed that my mom is giving us more things to do over the holidays - adventures together, games to play, mani-pedis, movies, deep conversations to have. This means our holidays are less and less defined by the big meals and more and more defined by the big memories.
I wanted to write this to honor my mother, because this type of subtle life changing/saving work is often not honored. Even as her adult daughter, I see it, I appreciate it, and I am excited to see more parents realize their leadership in this part of familial life. She has even gotten her mother, my grandmother, hooked on reusable shopping bags.