I'm at a loss. We've been battling various viruses for the last 6+ weeks here. No one person has gotten too terribly sick, but I'm starting to feel demoralized. The one week that none of the kids were sick, I was miserable. When I started to feel better and breathed a sigh of relief (because I could breathe again!) the next day one of my kids started running a fever, and the cycle started again.At any given point since the second week of January, at least one person has been sick. As soon as they are well, another person is sick (or two or three...) In between bouts of colds or tummy troubles, they're cheerful and energetic. Most of the bouts of illness are mild. But this is ridiculous. My baby (who has been better off than most of us due to breastfeeding) is fevered and clearly not feeling badly; my 3 year old is crashed out on the couch, after spending the day being tired and complaining about his stomach. I am so tired of the sickness.
I don't feel like we are particularly unhealthy, but for the past six months I've been increasingly suspicious that our immune systems may not be what they could be. And the last month has done nothing to allay my suspicion. Either we're rehashing the same couple of viruses, instead of kicking them entirely, or a couple of viruses are mutating and reinfecting us, or we're catching a dozen different viruses. None of those screams "excellent health!" to me.
Elderberry hasn't proved to be very effective, and the kids are getting more vitamins C and D, and more zinc, than they were this past summer and fall. I can't seem to get my kids to drink an infusion of nettles -- since it tastes like wet hay, I don't blame them. It's kind of a distinct taste. They will take licorice and/or mint infusions, but while that's been helpful for symptom relief it's not addressing the real issue.
I'm feeling like I need to do some serious investigating into our nutrition. Even though I don't think there's a magic bullet that prevents all illnesses forever and ever amen, I do think that the situation we're having here is an indication that something isn't working. I accept that when a virus makes it's way through our home, because there are simply more people here, it's going to take a little longer for everyone to be well again than it might in a smaller household. But each child has had three or four bouts of illness (except the baby) in such a short space of time. They should be able to fight off illness a little better than that, right? None of them have any underlying conditions that would make them more vulnerable to illness; something is out of balance. And that something has to be nutrition.
It's just a matter of figuring out what is going on there. I feel like it means I'm going to have to adopt a new (or an old) food philosophy, which feels annoying to me.
I've been trying to figure out why it bothers me when people are so adamant that certain foods make children sick, cause misbehavior, should be meted out in small portions or simply not allowed. I wonder if I'm supposed to feel sheepish because my children have been known to enjoy, without censure or limitation, those terrible foods.
I do believe that our bodies are fabulous creations that require a certain balance of nutrients to function optimally. I believe that many people today do not give their bodies all they need to even reach a baseline of health, for myriad reasons, and that children are vulnerable to deficits as they develop.
I believe our bodies are amazing in their adaptability and the ability to function really well under many circumstances.
|(Bell peppers really make me happy)|
And I believe that achieving wonderful nutrition is about embracing and enjoying a wide variety of foods... experiencing the tastes and textures and the culture around food. If a child is allowed to experiment and freely explore all that nature has to offer, cookies made with refined flour and white sugar will not derail their development.
But just because I believe it, doesn't make it so, and if I can't be flexible, respond to feedback from the universe (like having illness after illness for the last month and a half!) and learn and grow, then what am I teaching my kids?
Also, just because I believe such lofty things about food, doesn't mean I've been living it out from meal to meal. You can know an awful lot about nutrition and still lose awareness and intention when it comes to meals. Even if you want to be the kind of person who doesn't.
So, even though part of me feels like balking, and clinging to my current philosophy around food (and ultimately making whatever information I come across have to fit that or be discarded) I'm going to do what I did with religion. I wiped the slate clean; I scrapped everything I believed about God, and I began rebuilding my spiritual beliefs. I trusted that any of those beliefs and understandings that came back to me were valuable, and any that didn't were meant to be released from my life.
So: I no longer have any beliefs about food, nutrition, diet. I'm starting from scratch. Anything I think I know, I don't - which is the most vulnerable feeling possible. It's humbling to have people explain something to you like you've never heard it before, especially when you feel like you're the one who's supposed to have all the answers. It is very, very tough for me to step back from that. But nothing is more freeing, I just have to trust that.
I'm also going to consciously focus my attention on what, when, and how we eat. I expect that will be pretty significant. Even thinking about this, I'm realizing how little attention I pay to this these days. I've gotten lazy and haphazard, choosing convenience and ease over really mindfully investing in meals.