The Sustainable Family in the Kitchen

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    The sustainable family goes beyond the basics of buying organic food, using eco-friendly cleaning products and recycling. A sustainable family is one in which each family member thrives – physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually – while contributing to the sustainability of the earth. To keep the family unit sustainable and thriving, pay attention to what is cooking in the kitchen.

    Cooking for individual needs can get tricky. Individual bodies require different types of care. Different body types, different blood types and different metabolic rates thrive best when their individual needs are addressed. The experts all disagree about the ratio of protein, carbohydrate and fat people should consume. The truth, as I see it, is that each person needs to tune into their inner wisdom and listen to what their own body needs becoming fluent in the language of their own body.

    Your small-boned, type-O blood child may get constipated and flatulent when eating too much healthy, raw and dried foods. Maybe she needs more fat for balance. On the other hand, your large-boned, type-O blood child may thrive on daily salads but get tired and lethargic when eating too much fat. Paying attention to family member’s individual food needs can help them thrive and shine their light more brightly in the world.

    In our family, I still pay attention most closely to who is eating what. Our family sustains its equilibrium more easily when my 6-year-old has balanced blood sugar for "the 4:00-5:00 acid hour." If you have kids you know what I mean. The acid hour is the time of the day before dinner when kids are full from the day’s activities and empty in their tummies. Let my child’s blood sugar run low before dinner and we are in for seemingly endless whining and fussing – outbreaks that disrupt our family harmony.

    "Wait until dinner" may be a choice that works for some kids in some families. To preserve my sanity while getting dinner on the table, I often start the kids’ dinner with healthful snacks that I consider part of the meal. Good choices for us include: a drink with the herb stevia to balance blood-sugar; fresh or dried fruit; nutbutter and jelly on whole grain crackers, tortilla or pita; "ants on a log" made of apple slices, peanut butter and raisins; baby spinach leaves dipped in Annie’s Cowgirl ranch dressing or cream-cheese and yogurt spread. My kids’ energy then sustains them until our family dinner begins, at which time they may choose to eat smaller portions of the meal on the table.

    A 3 year old in balance shines joy wherever she goes; but watch out for the 3 year old out of balance. My 3 year old still seems to be getting her bearings in the world of food. We are now beginning to talk about choices. "Which do you choose for your protein food: chicken, tahini or peanut butter?" "You have had lots of carbohydrate foods so far. Which vitamin and mineral food do you choose: carrots, spinach leaves or green juice?" ("Green juice" is a powdered fruit and vegetable mix added to water.) I make all the snacks count. I look for snacks that include 1-2 servings of fruits and vegetables. Cookies, chips or "filler food" lacking in nutritional content do not count as fuel.

    My husband has gone on a low-salt diet for nine weeks. Lately, we are counting all his milligrams of sodium to keep it around 1,000-2,000 for the day. No more sauce-in-the-jar on top of chicken, rice and frozen mixed veggies for a quick dinner. I knew processed food was high in sodium, but, yikes, I am surprised to see the numbers. I counted all the sodium in an organic, vegetarian meal of Southwestern Pot Pie. I thought it tasted great. The salsa, canned beans and corn bread mix, however, raised the sodium content to more than 1,400 mg per portion. Who wants to use up his sodium allotment for the day in one entr?e? And that was a healthy meal without excess sodium "flavor enhancers." I would guess that the sodium content of a fast food burger and fries would be in the thousands.

    Then, there is my own food factored into the equation. I had a nasty candida yeast imbalance that downgraded to a mild annoyance after changing my diet several years ago. I still need to limit yeast, dairy and glutinous foods or risk getting out of balance. So, while everyone else enjoys chicken and cheese fajitas, I usually leave the cheese out of mine. We definitely want to avoid "Mom-out-of-balance" syndrome.

    Some days I feel like I am juggling plates and am waiting for one to crash on my head. Usually, by paying attention and offering foods that meet individual needs, I help keep my family members thriving. It makes a huge difference in our family sustaining its light in the world.

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