This would be the title of Hope’s autobiography if she ever desired to chronicle her 23 years with me. Since I last posted about “Healthy Eating” and how important it is to start early teaching your kids, I thought I’d follow up with this disclaimer…it’s not as easy as it sounds, and it doesn’t always work to your satisfaction!
I am obsessive about being healthy, especially when it comes to Hope. In fact, I must confess, I hold her to a higher standard. Why? You might ask. A couple of reasons. First of all, I want her to remain healthy so that she can live independently, if capable. Secondly, I want to prove some of the medical community wrong. In the past when I have expressed my concerns about her weight to physicians, most of them have dismissed my worries and simply told me that her weight will always be an issue and that she’s most likely going to be overweight, obese or trending towards diabetes (because she has Down syndrome). I am as stubborn as she is and have made it one of my goals to fight her genetics (as they were referring to) and show others that with education, and a lot of help from mom, Hope could be healthy and fit and change minds. Of course, I forgot the part about Hope buying into this and wanting this for herself. Ugh! Controlling mom! Prideful Mom!
In her years at home, Hope was a very good eater and would try anything. I prepared all her meals, and served her plate, therefore, controlling her portions. Portion control was key back then and still is. I even would “help” her order at the restaurant (that means tell her what to order), despite my husband’s urging to let Hope choose….Father knows best!
When Hope decided that she wanted to go to college, I had just a few short months to teach her how to pass Nutrition 101 in “a land flowing with milk and honey” known as the all-you-can-eat feeding trough or Harcombe Dining Hall at Clemson. This is a culture shock for all students. No college student has ever lived in a home where there is an all-you-can-eat buffet 3 times a day with so many choices and so many soft drinks. Oh, I have had so many nightmares about this. Why? Because I knew I had failed Hope in this area. When she was living at home, I just couldn’t let go and let her make her own choices. I knew she would fail. Author, Registered Dietician and mom, Joan Guthrie Medlen basically told me that she will fail in the beginning, and that I needed to be ready for that and be ok with it. She said that’s how Hope will learn. It will take time. I worried that failure would lead to chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease, which then would prevent her from living independently. How could we risk that?
Oh, my mind was racing. I began thinking about how this would affect the autoimmune disease, Hashimotos, that she had developed. Once you have one autoimmune disease, your risks are greater to develop more. A healthy diet is key in managing that disease and risk. After taking the holistic nutrition course, I was introduced to new ways of eating that could help Hashimotos—a gluten free/dairy free diet was one of those ways. Poor Hope…she became my 1st client as a health coach. I had her tested for food intolerances, and she has continued her gf/df diet in college with cheating days, of course. How has she fared with healthy eating in college? The first 2 years she lived on campus and was on the meal plan. As I predicted, she ate everything she wanted and quickly gained weight, like many freshman do. So when I got mad that she had gained 10 lbs. in 5 weeks, what did that say to her? Was my approval/my love based on her weight? Of course not, but that’s how I was acting. Hope needed more nutrition education and she continues to receive it at Clemson, where they are emphasizing healthy eating and fitness. Now that Hope is in her final year, she is living off campus and is preparing her meals at home. She has been a champ following menus and grocery lists that I have created for her. She also has student cooking instructors who are teaching her how to make easy, healthy meals at home.
Recently, Hope’s functional medicine doctor who has guided us through managing her autoimmune disease with both diet and medication, told me something that really resonated with me. He said “healthy” for Hope may be different than what you envisioned for her. And that is so true! Healthy does not mean perfect. It does not mean skinny. As long as Hope’s bloodwork is normal, as long as she is feeling well and is very active, and as long as she is making strides to eat fairly well, then Hope is healthy no matter what the #s on the scale say.
Hope needs grace to fail. Do I ever fail? All the time. Do I mess up? Of course! As I write this, I am ashamed but so thankful for the grace, love and forgiveness that she shows me no matter how many times I mess up. This is the Holy perspective I mentioned last week. I need this! Maybe I should learn from my daughter about unconditional love. Maybe I’ll write a book entitled, Lessons I learned from My Daughter.
Hope is everything I want to be—edgy, confident, bold, fearless, full of joy, and she has unshakeable faith. In his book, Hope, Pure and Simple, Max Lucado writes, “All of us are here by grace, and, at some point, all of us have to share some grace.” Amen!
Thank you, Father, for grace and your unconditional love. Thank you for your everyday reminders that we are a broken people in need of forgiveness and that we need to offer grace to others. Thank you for the special people that you put in our lives to show us what unconditional love, unshakeable faith, and pure joy look like.