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If you love me mum, please don’t ask me to eat that

More and more lately I’ve been concerned by the naivety we, as a family within a governed nation, have towards free radicals and carcinogenic substances destroying the healthy cells in our body.

For many people and beginning at a young age, the bad cells are multiplying at a rate that endangers the healthy cells. The immune system is unable to keep up, and the damage spreads to various parts of the body in skin tissue, bone marrow, essential blood systems, the nervous system, and the brain.

We talk about having a headache, lacking energy, having the flu, not being able to concentrate, having a gene that’s susceptible to a development of cancer or other disease, and we have mood swings.

I frequently say that a healthy mind is one of the best ways to heal a body. Yet it can’t do everything, alone. There’s also the reality that our bodies are a natural product of nature, an intelligent organ, and they must be cared for in the way nature intended.

While many products are tested for immediate side-effects and are cleared by the health authority and governing bodies then stocked on supermarket shelves, or other stores, they do not fuel our body in a healthy way and can have a detrimental negative impact on our long-term health.

What we call treats – that is confectionery, cakes, ice cream, bottled or tetra drinks, chips, and white bread – are harmful. How can a harmful substance be a treat?

I feel the term ‘treat’ is misunderstood.

These days we accept that treats are not healthy, but they are still fun and special. Saying the word ‘treat’ makes kids smile. We were taught to smile for treats, and we are teaching our children the same.

– How can feeding our children bad food, putting free radicals in their body instead of healthy nutritious alternatives, ever be good?

– How is it possible we are so well trained by marketing that these products are seen as fun?

– Why teach children that eating these products is a special occasion – a privilege – when it is possibly damaging their body and causing great harm to their adult bodies and causing them great distress later in life? Just because we can’t see them now, is it ok for us to ignore their adult bodies?

So many of us, as adults, rely on doctor appointments and pharmaceuticals to fix our common and not-so-common illnesses.

We often don’t think of it like this, but the children we are feeding now are the same people who will, as adults, be either healthy or unhealthy. I feel passionately that the responsibility to build their healthy body starts with us parents, now.

I imagine my sons (now 12 weeks old and 3 years old) to one day be middle aged and fit, strong, happy and enjoying life immensely. They exercise, eat fresh produce and other whole unmodified foods, and drink plenty of fresh water. They are positive and are empowered to improve their health all by themselves.

In our home we are now learning to discern products that contain free radicals against good, nutritious and harmless alternatives – that is, natural basics. In all cases we pick the good, nutritious, harmless alternatives and we go as far as to throw (what we now call) dangerous substances in the bin. Today chocolate went in the bin.

We aren’t over-reacting. In fact, I am proud.

I am now certain of one thing: I have been very confused. I was raised amongst a delicious assortment of food and great product marketing.

I have fabulous, caring, intelligent parents who always gave me the best available product, within their means.

They told me that certain foods were junk, and shook their heads when I insisted. But usually laughed as well. I did not understand the implication of eating unhealthy food, asides from the impact on the bank account and the well-known fear of ‘getting pimples’ or ‘getting fat’. What I didn’t learn is this very simple fact:

If the food is not healthy, then it’s unhealthy.

There is no grey area. Either the food is serving my body in a good way – on top of filling my stomach it creates healthy cells for eyesight, for example – or it’s not worth the risk of putting it in my mouth. Unhealthy food includes anything that does not improve my body OR a healthy food that has been put into a packet and had stuff added to preserve or change it. Sometimes these are foods we call ‘staples’, such as biscuits, baked beans, processed meat sausages, packet gravy, strawberry jam, Vegemite, bacon.

I have been eating unhealthy foods because my taste-buds, and my mind, are so well trained. And I didn’t receive education, as a child that could have meant I was healthier as a child and teenager. Perhaps life would have been different if I didn’t have glandular fever for 4 years. Perhaps I would be stronger and fitter now if I hadn’t taken so many anti-biotics and medicines over the years. Perhaps I could have increased my concentration, slept better and had better results at university if I ate healthy meals every time, instead of just most times?

It’s taken me thirty years to learn to discern.

I’ll be thirty this year. My resolution this year has been to look after the health of my family, and so I’m on a journey of discovery. My next project is this: I’m going to research and reveal some of the best and worst substances for our body, nervous system and brain, for the benefit of my children as well as for me.

Re-think! Break Habits! And Be Strong!

Our family was fortunate to be invited to a health seminar recently by Dr Anthony Golle of Body Brilliant (now, Tribal Wellness Movement, our affiliate wellness program). We learned – and we were reminded – how some very simple foods that we eat without question can have serious physical and neurological impacts.

Below I’ve rephrased the points that really alarmed us as parents, and have motivated us to change our family’s eating habits for good.

1. Our teeth are the strongest physical part of your body. If sugar eats away at teeth, what is it doing to the inside of our bodies?

2. We are wondering what to look for on food packet labels to ensure you are buying good food. Simply – we are shopping in the wrong aisle. We need to go to the produce section and buy real food.

3. Glue is mixed with flour and water. Bread is made with… Flour and water. Would we truly eat glue?

These are just the small pieces I heard between moving in and out of the room to keep my children quiet. I didn’t hear as much as I wanted, and I’m aware that there were so many more critical points made, yet what I heard made me even more passionate to get our diets, and minds, re-trained.

A word on re-training:

Changing our diets so far has been incredibly… EASY! Step by step we learn about different foods and their benefits or risks, and we gradually omit items from the shopping list or pantry and start buying healthy alternatives instead. It’s been fun, and delicious. Now I feel like I’m eating real treats!

As of today, our pantry only contains the foods we are happy to feed to our children – based on what we know today. There will be more improvements as we make more discoveries.

My little DS doesn’t mind at all. He loves talking about healthy foods and eating them. Below is a photo of him eating a sandwich he made himself: brown bread and dried apricots, with a side of medjool dates. He doesn’t question the missing white bread, Vegemite and Kraft cheese with a tub of kids-branded yoghurt. He eats what we have because we talk about how delicious it is, and we compliment his food choices.


The only time he is confused is when one parent, or grandparent, or relative, buys him a ‘treat’ that he has been taught to discern as unhealthy. Why would someone who loves him want to feed him something that he now knows is bad? The best way we can move forward is to be committed, as a team, to teach him what’s best for him, consistently and without breaking down in weak moments.

Over the next fortnight I will independently research and reference life-changing, possibly life-saving, information – so click FOLLOW BLOG if you are interested in learning with me.

Since starting this journey I have noticed how difficult it is to find healthy food when socializing and entertaining the kids away from the home. Ice creams, confectionery, deep-fried foods … everywhere. It takes a great person to walk away from the temptation and I desperately want to be that great person.

Because I love myself and my children that much.


Recommended Reading:

My Baby Brilliant

Uderstanding Free Radicals and Anti-oxidants

The top-five cancer causing foods

8 new substances added to list of carcinogens

Day by day we aim to repair our bodies and have trust, faith and optimism for the future. You can join me as I walk to wellness in the private facebook group Joanna Haley Homestead (Journey to Wellness)

Joanna Haley, Author

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