Tell me a little bit about your background and family?
My husband and I have three little boys (7, 6, and 3) and live just outside of Chicago. I am a former middle school/high school teacher who eventually went into educational publishing and software development. I recently left my full time job and took on a freelance role so that I can be at home more and have a little more involvement in the day to day happenings at our house and in the kids’ school! We are a very active family! My husband and I are both runners and he played hockey through college. As one might expect, our kids now play hockey several days a week, and my husband and I do our best to stay in shape with regular workouts. We are out and about in the town we live in as well as in the city. And we enjoy traveling immensely…even with the kids, believe it or not! We believe strongly in teaching by example and living a healthy lifestyle so that we can continue to explore and adventure for many, many years to come!
Why do you choose a whole food diet for your family?
I’ve been a runner for some years now and have been pretty selective about my diet since I started long distance races. Having kids, including one with asthma and a number of other food and environmental allergies, reinforced the need for smart, healthy food choices. We started going organic, natural, and non-GMO and focusing on fruits and vegetables, but it wasn’t always absolute. About a year ago, my husband was diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma, which is a non-Hodgkins diagnosis. It was a somewhat puzzling diagnosis for his healthcare providers because of his age, health, and lifestyle.
In my own research, we realized that a high percentage of patients with this diagnosis were farmers or others exposed to chemicals on a regular basis. My husband was at ground zero on 9-11 and we both think there’s a strong possibility that breathing in the aftermath of the towers falling could be responsible for his diagnosis. (That is just our suspicion; it hasn’t been confirmed.) At any rate, he is doing really well, and it’s been a very convincing wake up call to really examine all our lifestyle choices. We do our best to ensure we’ve removed as many chemicals as possible from our home and that we are only putting nourishing whole foods into our bodies.
What is your go-to real food snack?
We’re pretty simple around here. My kids love hummus, so we always have that on hand with vegetables. We also enjoy fresh and dried fruits or granola.
What do you find most difficult about feeding your kids a non-processed diet?
Well there certainly aren’t as many short cuts when you’re pressed for time and looking for something quick at the grocery store! I’d love to say that I spend hours cooking, but that’s not me either; so for us, it’s all about planning. If I can get a weekly menu together before I go to the grocery store Sunday mornings, we’re in good shape. If not, we have pretty boring meals until the next week. Fortunately, my family is kind enough not to complain all that often.
What are your concerns as a parent when it comes to childhood mental health?
Honestly, I don’t worry that much right now as my kids are young. They have some fears and some moments of being overwhelmed – fire safety prevention week at school was a slew of new fears at home! But, generally speaking, sitting down to talk to them will calm their anxiety. What absolutely terrifies me is the pressures and stress they’ll face when they get a little older, specifically those that can be brought on by social media and peer pressure. Right now, I’m really working on building a solid relationship with each of my kids so that when they get older, they’ll know we’re always a safe place to discuss feelings and anything that may be weighing on them, and that they’ll have some tools to help combat any assaults on their confidence or moral choices.
What I love about your story is your action and your willingness to be open. Your family faced your husband’s difficult diagnosis and you found a way to double down and actively make changes. By sharing your story, you have inspired others who are possibly facing illness or who are looking to prevent illness in their lives. Thanks for sharing, Katie! You are making a difference.