I believe it is important not only to wish our Moms a Happy Mother’s Day, but also to thank them specifically for the things they did that were really beneficial and impactful on our lives growing up. This doesn’t mean our Moms were perfect, far from it! It just means that we are choosing to focus on the positive to make sure this is registered in our minds so that we can duplicate it and hopefully add to it with our own families.
With that, I would like to list the top 10 health decisions my Mom made while I was growing up that were amazingly smart and way ahead of her time. Did she do everything right? Of course not! She would laugh at even the suggestion of such a thing!
This list of health decisions Mom made simply shows that when the intention is there to raise a healthy child, many decisions will be made correctly by virtue of the fact that you are *thinking* about it (as opposed to going through the motions) and trusting your gut when things the “experts” say just don’t add up.
#1 Thank You Mom for Always Using Butter and Eggs
My Mom never fell for the “margarine is better” or “eggs are bad” baloney even in the 1970’s and 1980’s when saturated fat phobia was at its peak. She knew something produced in a factory could never surpass or even equal the simple, wholesome nutrition of quality cream churned into butter or whole eggs. I never saw Mom throwing egg yolks away, buying a carton of egg whites or using anything “butter substitute” in my home. EVER.
#2 Thank You Mom for Saying NO When the Doctor Wanted to X-Ray Your Pelvis When You Were Pregnant
A misguided and highly dangerous medical procedure that was commonplace only a few decades ago was to x-ray all pregnant women’s pelvises to see if there was “enough room” for the baby to be born.
My Mom instinctively knew that subjecting an unborn fetus to a big dose of radiation wasn’t a good idea and she refused every time it was suggested no matter what misguided reasons and current scientific thinking (that was thought to be brilliant and flawless – NOT!) was thrown at her to justify it.
The practice was gradually abandoned because it was shown to be bad for baby and also because it didn’t help one whit in predicting which women would need C-sections and which women would not.
#3 Thank You Mom for Not Letting Me Get into the Habit of Snacking Before Bed
My Mom would never let us eat before bed except on the rare occasion of a special TV show on a Friday or Saturday night. She knew that late night snacking habits would cause weight problems later. She also taught us that going to bed on a stomach full of food, especially ones high in sugar or carbs, was not a healthy practice and certainly not conducive to a good night’s sleep.
To this day I rarely snack at night and when I do, I don’t sleep well – just like Mom said.
#4 Thank You Mom for Cooking Even When You Didn’t Feel Like It
I’ve blogged before that I ate a lot of fast food growing up because my Mom didn’t much like to cook. While this is true, she did manage to crank out several home cooked meals for me and my six siblings every single week. While the fast food habit was not something I relish the memory of, I am thankful that Mom did cook at least a few times a week. In addition, while my Mom wasn’t a “buy it fresh” kind of a gal, she at least bought frozen veggies which was a much better and more nutritious choice than canned versions.
There can be no doubt that what she managed to accomplish in the kitchen was extremely important to her children’s long term health.
#5 Thank You Mom for Refusing Pain Medication During Labor
My Mom birthed all seven of her children naturally even when the trend during her time was to knock Mom out completely or at least give her strong narcotic pain medication. I am so thankful Mom chose the road less traveled and had my siblings and I with no meds so that my first experience of the world was not in a drugged up state.
#6 Thank You Mom for Keeping Soda Out of the Fridge
My Mom knew soda was not a good choice and never bought it in large quantities. We would occasionally have a can of Tahitian Treat or Orange Crush in the fridge for special occasions, but it was never a habit. When we ate fast food, we were never allowed to order soda either.
#7 Thank You Mom for Breastfeeding Us
My Mom didn’t breastfeed my siblings and me for very long – only a week or so. She had a lot of trouble breastfeeding, but she knew the early colostrum was extremely important to her babies and even though the doctors and nurses discouraged any and all breastfeeding at that time, she struggled through it as long as she could before the inevitable mastitis set in.
I am grateful that I was at least nursed during those early days of life which is so important for properly seeding the digestive tract with beneficial flora and priming the immune system for proper development.
#8 Thank You Mom (and Dad) for Not Vaccinating Me as a Baby
My siblings and I weren’t vaccinated until we were school age. This allowed our immune systems and the blood-brain barrier to develop to a point where the toxins and chemicals in the shots were much better handled than they would have been as a defenseless baby with little to no immune function at all.
#9 Thank You Mom for Letting Me Dig in the Dirt and Have Lots of Pets
I had a lot of animals growing up and dug around and played in the dirt and in the woods nearby until I was quite filthy. Although my Mom is a self proclaimed germaphobe, she let me do it as long as the animals were all kept outside and I got cleaned up as soon as I set foot indoors.
Letting children get dirty and have contact with animals is very important for their immune system development. I have little doubt that Mom’s reluctant acceptance of my love of the outdoors and animals is one reason why I am fortunate to have no allergies today.
#10 Thank You Mom for Teaching Me to Question the “Experts”
My Mom relied a lot on common sense when it came to raising her family. When things just didn’t add up, she never blindly trusted “the science” or “the experts”. She knew that “the science” frequently blows with the wind and so she relied a lot on Mother’s intuition to guide her basic, medical decisions and was quick to say “no” when necessary.
Mom’s questioning of authority and skepticism of modern nutritional dogma really impacted me greatly growing up. I credit this with my avoidance of many modern, medical pitfalls with my own family and while I have had to learn a few things the hard way, my skepticism has by and large served me very well. The seeds for this cautious approach were sown by my smart and very intuitive Mother.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Moms who are doing your very best to raise healthy children by making smart health decisions. Your efforts are not wasted and you don’t have to do it perfectly to achieve this important goal. One day your children will no doubt be thanking you for your tireless efforts to navigate the parenting minefield of today.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
Sarah Pope has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2002. Her work is dedicated to helping families effectively incorporate the principles of ancestral diets within the modern household. She is a sought after lecturer around the world for conferences, summits, and podcasts.
Her work has been covered by major media including USA Today, ABC, NBC, and many others.