Recently, I was paying a visit to our local downtown coffee house, Axum. We love Axum for many reasons, one of which is that they give back all profits to charity! I never feel bad about paying a little extra for a cup of Joe…which is usually a treat for me anyway. I was having a nice chat with some new friends of mine that I had made in my recent random trips there. It seemed that anytime I was there, I would run into them. We had lots in common, both having young children, and found them extremely easy to talk to. The other day we got into an interesting conversation, and it felt like something that many of us can relate to.

You see, one day I had mentioned that I was heading to the doctor and they had wished me good luck. The next time I saw them they asked how it went. I told them the truth, which I often do. I told them it went well but not great. I told them about my recent flare of Ulcerative Colitis and how I’m still working on things. And though I’m now using Western Medicine to help me get to where I need to be, we talked about the strides I’ve made with natural healing through food and acupuncture. We chatted about my plant based diet and how I had personally seen a huge change in my health since transitioning about four years ago.

Now this is where I got asked the question I get asked a lot. “Do your kids eat the same way you do?” The answer was yes…But this actually got us onto a slight change in topic. The topic of being “that parent.” We started discussing our fast-paced society. We talked about how hard it is to feed your kids a healthy meal during busy times of school and extra curriculars. And they also wanted to know how we handled school functions. Do we let our kids decide what they eat at school? Do we tell the teacher that our children may not have a cupcake for a friend’s birthday? How do we decide what special occasions are okay for a “cheat,” or do we rule out “cheating” all together if we can help it? Now I hesitate to use the word “cheat” because it comes with such a negative connotation…but I think the word works well for this scenario. We can discuss “leaning in” at a later date. For now, we use “cheat.”

I think the truth of it is, WE decide what is best for our family. Chances are, if you have fallen off the wagon in any healthy eating lifestyle, you know how upsetting it can be. We have all felt the guilt of letting our kids eat some junk food. We have all felt the feeling of, “I can do better than this.”  I think that the key to any successful lifestyle change is setting up a system of rules and guidelines for yourselves and your family. It’s important to talk to each other about the lines you will and will not cross. My new friends and I talked about what it feels like to “be those parents.” The ones with the high maintenance ways of life. The ones who say, “no thank you,” to cake at the party. The ones who tell their kids they can choose between the full sugar juice box or the popsicle, but they don’t need both.

From time to time, I have definitely felt the judgement of others in this area. Sometimes, food is a major source of opposition, and I don’t think it needs to be. I would never expect someone to make a choice because of something I think or believe. If my way of thinking inspires you to get out there and learn more about diet and nutrition and how it affects your health, then I think that’s awesome! But only you know what’s right for you…only you can ask yourself if you are doing the best you can. If you are, I say bravo. No one is perfect, and if you’re trying, keep it up! More often than not, I am met with kindness and understanding. I have found that if I express myself in a non-confrontational way, people are more inquisitive than offended.

So I say BE THOSE PARENTS! Whatever eating choices you decide to make, be deliberate and don’t let anyone dull your shine! MAKE the hard choices that are best for your family. And surround yourself with positive people who lift you up…chances are, they’re probably “those parents” too.