When Life Gets in the Way

When Life Gets in the Way

Life can get in the way of anything.  For me, this blog is a passion pursuit.  Health and nutrition have been my passion for more than a dozen years now.  My dream is to one day get the nutritionist license I so desire, that piece of paper that confirms that my 12 years of study are actually worth something.  Yet even when it comes to something we are passionate about, we can get derailed.

I am coming back to this blog after a longer hiatus than I’d like.  There were some holidays and a big birthday celebration for our oldest son.  There are still balloons and streamers littering my living room.  I am praying that the trickle of presents has finally stopped rolling in! (Our sons really do not need any more toys for me to clean up!)  I still have thank-you cards left to write.  In fact, I should be writing them right now.

That “should be” is what has kept me away from this blog for so many weeks.  There is always something I “should be” doing in my home.  I “should be” putting away the folded laundry.  I “should be” spending more time reading to my kids.  I “should be” tidying the train wreck that is my bedroom.  I “should be” more hands on with my kids as they color or sculpt play-doh.  I “should be” cleaning the bathrooms more often (or at all).  I “should be” cooking dinner every single night (rather than relying on leftovers).  I “should be” making more play dates for my kids so they get appropriate social interaction.  I “should be” mopping and vacuuming more often.  Add to these the obligations outside of the home… I “should be” there for my friends when they need me.  I “should be” sure to call my parents on Skype regularly.  I “should be” visiting the sick.  I “should be” calling the elderly.  I “should be” sending cards to cheer up lonely old people.  I “should be” calling Grandpa more frequently.

Trying (and inevitably failing) to keep up with all the “should be’s” is futile.  I can hardly keep up with all the “must do’s” that permeate my life!  Unfortunately, when we put “should be” in front of every item on the infinitely long potential to-do list set forth by ourselves, our children, our partners, our parents, our families, our friends, our society, our religion, our community, our country, our world, we can never succeed in doing everything.  Tony Robbins isn’t going home at night and doing the dishes, mopping the floors, and calling every long lost friend and family member he ever met.  Nobody can do everything.

When we try to do everything, we do get a lot done, but is it really the right stuff?  For me, becoming beholden to the “should be’s” has led to me putting this blog, a passion that makes me excited to wake up, on the back burner.  That is a real shame.

I will do better in the future.  For the moment, however, I take solace in one fact: Each day we get to reinvent ourselves.  Just as each meal is a new opportunity to eat healthfully, so too is each day a chance to return to the path of our passions.  Each day gives us a brand new opportunity to start anew.  Why wait until January 1 to make resolutions?  And why, if we make a mistake and break a resolution, is it “broken” and not simply an opportunity to “restart” it?  A dream deferred is, after all, still a dream ready to be lived.  I know I am going to defer no longer.  My dream restarts again today!

My Story: Inspired by the Children

My Story: Inspired by the Children

Cake, with sugary frosting, white flour, and food coloring, is a food any kid will be willing and happy to eat - but wait - are you feeding your child foods that will make them sick?

Cake, with sugary frosting, white flour, and food coloring, is a food any kid will be willing and happy to eat – but wait – are you feeding your child foods that will make them sick?

Just after my now-husband and I were engaged, we joined a neighborhood family for a festive holiday meal. The hosts were part of a large family with many siblings, one of whom was visiting with her husband and baby. We watched as she fed the baby all sorts of dangerous foods – white bread, sugary juice, and oatmeal with plenty of sugar stirred in. This baby was not even one year old and yet she was addicted to sugar.

Her parents admitted to us that her health was very poor. They claimed she was allergic to many things, and that she was constantly ill. When we asked about her diet, they told us that she was a picky eater and would not eat most foods. She would not eat mashed peas, carrots, potato, or pumpkin. No pureed green beans or mashed zucchini. No fresh fruits or vegetables. She would turn her nose up at all of them. The parents feared that she would starve if they did not get her to eat what was provided, so they made what was provided as appealing to her as they could – by dissolving as much sugar as possible into anything being proffered.

We were aghast. Although we were not yet married and did not yet have children, we knew immediately that we never wanted our children to grow up with such an unhealthy diet. But not only did we not want to raise our children this way – we did not want any parents to raise their kids this way. These parents had no idea how dangerous certain foods were for their beloved baby girl – whether it was something as innocent seeming as white bread or as common as Coca-Cola – they simply believed that by coaxing her with one nutrition-devoid sugary food after another, they were doing what was best for her. But the truth is, they were causing her ill health themselves and they had no idea.

From this experience the idea for my life’s work was born.

It also got a kick-start when we visited some close friends of ours. I have known their children since they were very young – some even since birth. All of the children are hyperactive, wild, and difficult to discipline or control. Yet, when we watched them eat, we noticed that they would push the healthy food around on their plates, eat as little of it as possible, and then beg for dessert – which they were then given. These kids are addicted to sugar and their parents have no idea. Instead of cutting out sugars and refined and processed foods, they respond by giving their kids “medicine” – Ritalin and the like. They “treat” the symptoms, often with little success, rather than address the cause, because this is what big business, popular culture, and even the medical profession tells them to do. They simply do not know any better.

Melatonin is a natural sleep aid safe to use for kids.  Sometimes it can be really helpful - but if your child needs it on a regular basis, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Melatonin is a natural sleep aid safe to use for kids. Sometimes it can be really helpful – but if your child needs it on a regular basis, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

This experience was replicated when visiting another family we know. We observed the exact same situation, but this time we stayed over at their house and at bedtime noticed something even more shocking. The parents had to give the kids melatonin to get them to go to sleep. These kids were so pumped up on all the sugars and chemicals in their diets that they were physically unable to fall asleep without having yet more drugs dumped into their systems. To us, this was tragic.

These families are not alone. Almost every day I meet other parents and grandparents – on the playground, at the library, or at mother’s groups – who have no idea that what they are feeding their kids is unhealthy. They simply do not know much about health and diet. Unfortunately, what we don’t know CAN hurt us. And our kids.

I hope this blog will give people a place where they can learn nuggets of information to take home and put in place in their own lives. Information about health, diet, and nutrition that can improve their own lives, the lives of their loved ones, and especially the lives of the children who will inherit our world.

My Story: How I Became Interested in Nutrition

My Story: How I Became Interested in Nutrition

Grilled SteakI’ll admit it: I don’t eat meat anymore but I used to LOVE it. In fact, at one point, I was probably eating meat every day, even twice a day. Not only did I enjoy eating it, but I believed it was the best thing to do. I thought humans were fully justified in eating meat.

So when I was exposed to some texts espousing a vegetarian diet in my second year of undergraduate study, I rebelled. I wrote papers justifying kosher and hallal slaughtering practices. I even decided to write for my philosophy senior thesis “An Ethical Defense of Meat Eating.”

However, there were very few texts available on the subject. There were a handful of articles, but nothing strong enough on which to base an entire thesis. If I wanted to write it, I would have to come up with the arguments on my own. In order to do that, I had to suss out my competition. I had to know what, exactly, I was arguing against. I had to read the texts on why people choose NOT to eat meat.

Caprese SaladSo I did exactly that. Over the course of the next year, I read arguments about cruelty to animals and I had plenty of ethical responses to that. I read about the environment and had plenty of responses to that. I read feminist arguments against eating meat and I had plenty of responses to that. And then I read John Robbins’ “Diet for a New America.” It was the first time I read a reasoned explanation of how our bodies work and what happens when we fill them up with meat. To say that meat was unhealthy was news to me! Growing up, we had a balanced, homemade dinner nearly every night – a starch, a vegetable, and a protein. Wasn’t that the very definition of a healthy diet?

What I learned in Robbins’ book rocked me to my core. Not only was there a laundry list of health problems associated with animal flesh consumption, but there was a clear and understandable explanation of how our bodies digested meat and how the diseases arose from it.

Suddenly, at the age of 20, I saw my future self. I imagined what it would be like to have a heart attack, a stroke, or debilitating osteoporosis. These things are happening to younger and younger people. What if I, G-d forbid, in my 50’s, experienced one of these terrible diseases? How would my future husband feel? My children? I realized then that not taking care of myself would not just affect me and my quality of life, but it would affect others around me, too. It would hurt me and it would also hurt the people I love. I resolved then and there to start changing my lifestyle.

Vegan pizzaOver the course of the 12 years since, I have read every book on health and diet I could get my hands on. I have purchased entire shelves of books, and checked out scores more from libraries all over the world.

One day, after the birth of my second son a year ago, I was sitting and reading a nutrition book while I nursed him. It occurred to me that I was reading books on health, diet, and nutrition for fun. And not only that, but I had been reading them avidly for over a decade! That’s when I realized that this – health, diet, and nutrition – was my true passion.

Like everyone with a true passion, I now want to share what I’ve learned with you.

How I Came to Start this Blog

How I Came to Start this Blog

I realized that life is about much more than being a VIP attorney working 12 hour days. I learned that putting family first and eating a healthy diet are the real keys to living a happy life.

I realized that life is about much more than being a VIP attorney working 12 hour days. I learned that putting family first and eating a healthy diet are the real keys to living a happy life.

I have been working on a nutrition book for a while now, but it requires a lot of research. My background as an attorney means I am a perfectionist about citations and that slows me down a lot! Yet I still love to write and talk about nutrition.

In fact, I am a member of Toastmasters International (TMI – but not ‘too much information’!). TMI is an international public speaking group and I get excited just thinking about it. I love doing Toastmasters! Not least because I get to choose my topics and my favorite topics to choose are nutrition ones.   I just love to share nutrition information with others, in any forum!

So one night I went out for a drink with my friend Natasha, who runs the website Lifestyleforum.org   We were both getting really excited about our shared health and nutrition passion and I mentioned how much I love sharing what I’ve learned with others. I told her about how my dream is to go back to school to study to become a nutritionist, but that financially it’s just not possible right now.

I dream every day of being able to help people improve their health and prevent or even reverse disease by using a healthy diet. And I dream of specializing in working with people to fit a healthy diet into their existing lifestyles and preferences. I don’t want people to feel that following a healthy diet has to be something scary or has to mean giving up all the foods they love. Food is an integral part of our personal history, our identity, and our culture. For me, nutrition is about using diet to improve health by respecting and working within those parameters.

So when Natasha asked me if I have a blog, I was flabbergasted. WHY DON’T I HAVE A BLOG?! Well, the truth is, my husband and I do run a travel and religion blog, but I had never thought to apply my blogging habit to my nutrition passion. It’s a marriage made in heaven… and this blog, my new baby, has finally arrived! I can’t wait to share everything with you – my biggest problem is that I have so much to share that I don’t know where to start!

About Me

About Me

Rachel & Levi at Dora's WeddingRachel is a stay-at-home mother of two boys under three.  She spends her days cooking healthy and delicious food, working out at the gym, and (of course) playing with her two beautiful boys!

Although she has degrees in philosophy and Spanish, and is a licensed US attorney, she wants to go back and get one more – nutrition – so she can pursue her true passion.  After working for downtown Miami law firms where she spent 12 hours a day, 6 days a week slaving over cases that only made her boss rich, she realized this kind of lifestyle was not the healthiest way to live, physically, mentally, or spiritually.  She now wants to be able to spend her time with those she loves.  However, her strong love of helping other people achieve their dreams has led her to want to share her nutrition knowledge with the wider world.

Akiva Running in the SunshineRachel believes a healthy lifestyle is the best medicine. Most ailments and illnesses can be prevented or even cured by changing to a healthier lifestyle and diet. (She is not against Western medicine and agrees that it has a place.) Rachel’s passion is diet, nutrition, and food in general, and she wants to share this with the world.

As a mum, Rachel knows firsthand how much parents love their children.  We all want only the very best for our kids.  She wants to help guide others to be the best parents they can be, so we can raise the healthiest kids possible.  Health is the real wealth, and is an enduring legacy we can give our kids.

Welcome to the New Inspire Healthy Kids Blog!

Welcome to the New Inspire Healthy Kids Blog!

Rachel Showing Off Homemade BreadWelcome to my new blog! The focus of this blog is going to be primarily on nutrition for kids. I have been studying nutrition for 12 full years now and it is time for me to pursue my passion.

My dream is to become a licensed nutritionist and to work with individuals and families to find ways to work healthy eating into their lives. I realize that for some people, this could require a full lifestyle change that cannot be done overnight. When I am a licensed nutritionist I will be able to use bloodwork results to show how tangible results can be achieved over the course of gradual and lasting lifestyle changes.

Unfortunately, in our modern society, even 12 years of independent study is insufficient to prove your expertise in an area unless you have a piece of paper saying you are now an expert. So I cannot claim to be a nutritionist or practice as one until I get that piece of paper! But, thanks to the wide world of the Internet, I can share my wealth of knowledge with you even without that piece of paper.

Over the life of this blog, I have lots of great nutrition tips, tricks, and advice to share with you. I will try to include links to scientific studies whenever possible because I believe you should be able to see the source for a claim. And in the comments sections I welcome questions, comments, and healthy, respectful debate. (I reserve the right to delete or edit comments that are not respectful no matter what the viewpoint, but I definitely welcome the respectful comments of people who agree and disagree with me alike!)

Food literally and figuratively becomes part of who we are as people. Nutrition and diet should be a lifestyle choice, not a fad. Welcome to my blog – I hope it will help you to style your life in the healthiest and most nutritious way possible!