"I need my potassium!" and Other Things My 8-Year-Old Says - W7.D4
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
So a while back (I don't remember how long ago it was and I don't want to look...last week I think) I was asking for suggestions for why I had gained like 2 pounds in a day. (BTW - I'm pretty darn sure it was the sodium.) Someone mentioned Potassium and I looked it up to be sure I was getting enough and see what the symptoms would be if I was not getting enough. While I realized that most of my favorite healthy options were on the list of potassium-rich foods (therefore, not likely to be my problem), I also realized that nearly every single food was something my 8-year-old son refused to eat.
Lately Ethan has been complaining that his "heart" hurts. Okay, now before you call CPS on me for not rushing him to the ER, let me explain. We don't believe in panicking when something hurts on a child. We know enough to be able to try a few things, try to figure out what the cause could be, and then see if we can do a quick home remedy. Just as I'm trying not to put junk food and crap into my system, we do not want our children to constantly be taking medication. (Plus, there's a history in my family of waiting to go to the ER - if you reread my Zumba blog you'll notice that I found out my foot was broken like a day after the injury happened because Mom wanted to see if it was just sprained or something. When the pain continued without letting up, she took me to the ER.)
Let me also tell you that I have a history of hypochondria. I can make myself feel the pain and make my body respond in a certain way. A lot of made up stomach aches as a child in order to receive the attention I felt I was lacking led to real stomache pain and issues. (Add it to the list of cycles I've been trying all my adult life to break.) But even as I write this blog to all of you, my heart has a bit of pain. It started when I began typing about my son, and it will likely end 10 minutes after I finish it - once I think of something else.
ANYWHO -- So when he said his "heart" hurt we asked him questions about what he had eaten, what he had done, what the pain felt like, etc. We then instructed him to lay down with his legs up and see if that helped. It helped. He was better in a matter of minutes. He complained once more about it to me, and again relaxing helped to settle the issue. One more complaint and he would be at the doctor or ER (trust me, it crossed my mind SEVERAL times, but he insisted that he felt better). And then I read about how potassium deficiency can lead to irregular heartbeat, and I did a silly thing then - I mentioned it to him. I told him that he'd have to start eating some more of the foods on the list I had or take a potassium supplement every day to see if that resolved his issues. I also told him the choice belonged to him alone.
For the past week now, my son has been walking around the house grabbing bananas at random and eating them. Asking me "does this have potassium in it?" and holding up an apple. I think I even caught him looking at a nutrition label the other day. And he says outloud, "I'm going to go get a banana. I need my potassium." Later tonight I will ask him if the increased potassium has stopped his "heart" problems (I also put that in quotes because sometimes when you're 8 you think one thing hurts and it's really something else...so his "heart" could be something else that he's mistaking for his heart - you know?).
But all of this has led me to realize that my son wants a healthy life. No, I mean, he really was born to be healthy! My oldest is more susceptible to peer pressure and is already highly addicted to junk food, but my youngest still has a shot. Why? Because he is conscious when he eats. He thinks about the most simple things - What does this have in it? Will it help my body? Do I even really like it? Is it good for me? Will I be hungry five minutes from now after eating this? Am I already full? Do I want seconds? Am I even hungry?
I know people say that kids are born with an instinct to eat properly and that we, the adults, the parents, the people who are supposed to be doing good things for them, teach them how to destroy their bodies and get them addicted to HFCS and other nasty, nasty things. But I guess I didn't see it until my 8 year old started eating bananas. He doesn't *love* bananas. If you offered him the choice between a banana or a sucker he'd likely pick the sucker -- or...or he might reason with you that while the sucker tastes better, the banana contains what his body needs to be healthy. That makes me a very, very proud Momma. (serious tears forming here people!)
I always worried that my kids would be fat and have to go through what I went through, what I'm still going through. And I know I don't have all the answers to make them stay healthy, I know that we're moving in the right direction. Ethan has started training (yes, he calls it training and he set goals for himself too...no, I did not direct him to do this but he has been watching and listening to me a lot!) for football season, which starts at the end of next month. He tries to remember to do 10 cruches, 10 push-ups and 10 leg lifts (and insists that his legs must be exactly 6" off the ground) every day. He always volunteers to go walking with me, and he was DYING to come to Zumba with me last Saturday. (He's going this Saturday, btw...I've decided.)
So I guess my changes have helped create a brighter future for my child. And while I knew that would happen, logically and all...it's just so nice to see the changes happening right before me. These changes are so much more important than inches and pounds lost...because I'm paving the way for a child who may not have to know what it feels like to not know your body, to feel ashamed and embarrased by your weight and withdraw from life. These are the BEST changes!