Kathy Loidolt: It's like having a secret

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As a child, I ate about ten foods: Hot dogs, bologna, white bread, noodles, pizza without cheese, Cheerios and Oreos. That's it. I have always been a picky eater. Even as an adult, I chose foods that tasted good and did not even think about nutrition, often eating popcorn for lunch and cookies for dinner. When I had kids, I fed them the same: packed the pantry full of junk and the freezer full of processed, microwaveable food. We ate what was advertised, quick and easy and visited several fast food restaurants a week.

Our four junk food junkies were sick many times a year. Friends of mine often commented on how easily my kids got sick. Matt, my oldest looked like he had failure-to-thrive syndrome. He was going to growth specialists, had grey colored skin, was sickly looking and had no energy. Our second oldest, Chris, was in trouble in school, in sports and at home. Our third, Stacie, was an emotional handful and Kimmy, the youngest, was in and out of the hospital and diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Every time a cold came her way, she ended up in the hospital with croup or RSV. The kids were whiney and my husband said I yelled at them almost nightly. My husband had allergies and I had rosecea and Reynaud's. That means I had red face and couldn't stay warm. I was constantly tired and told my husband, I couldn't parent four kids unless we found a better vitamin.

Then about nine years ago, my brother-in-law was diagnosed with brain cancer, a glioblastoma. My sister told us she had been doing some research and found that part of the reason her husband had cancer was the food they were eating. I started researching, reading labels and experimenting with good tasting ways to eat more real food like plants and animals and fewer chemicals.

We made changes a few at a time and allowed ourselves to "cheat" along the way with our favorite foods like ice cream and soda. We started with just switching foods that taste the same, like using cold processed olive oil and walnut oil instead of heat processed vegetable oils and getting free range eggs and hormone free meat. Then when I stopped buying the junk food like chips and soda, the kids were frustrated. I explained to them that I loved them too much to poison them anymore. We found crackers and chips without color dyes, high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils that were "different but still good." The kids squawked and even my husband argued and thought it was crazy. He wanted to keep eating the chemical laden foods to "keep our resistance to those foods built up."

At one point, we went off all white flour and white sugar while we were on a ski vacation. We jut ate real food like vegetables and fruit and organic turkey. Everyone was so tired we couldn't get off the couch to ski for three days, but now the whole family has much more energy than ever before and is not as addicted to the junk. My kids still love the junk food, so I find out which ones they are missing and buy those foods about once or twice a month. It's impossible to think that we can eat 100% organic food. We shoot for 80% organic, real food from plants and animals and 20% junk food and treats.

Since re-evaluating our diets, my oldest started growing, had more energy and became a better athlete. My second oldest went off to middle school and the teachers said they wished they had 10 more kids like him. Our third became much calmer and less emotional and is always happy even though she is a teenager. And our youngest rarely gets colds now and never developed the diabetes doctors predicted she would. My husband's allergies are much better. My rosecea is going away and I don't get cold anymore. We don't go to the doctor unless someone hurts themselves.

Even my husband is hooked and has seen such huge changes in my family that he loves our new way of life. At one point I told one of my boys, "Now that we eat healthy, you guys are easier to get along with." My son looked up at me and said, "So are you, Mom!" We were amazed at the changes in my kids, but even more amazed at the changes in the family as a whole. The entire household mood changed. Even with four kids, we rarely have arguing at the house and I haven't yelled at my kids in years. They all have more energy for their sports, their hair is thicker, skin stays clearer and we have to clip our fingernails so often that my husband actually complains about it. I have fewer wrinkles than I did over seven years ago and haven't been tired in years.

My oldest just told me as he went off to college that he is glad that we eat healthy. He told us that he plans to parent like we did, as he thinks we did it right - that's a comment every parent wants to hear!

I get so excited about the benefits we saw from changing our diets that I love helping people learn the same thing. It is so important to make these changes before developing health problems. Americans have no idea how good they can feel. The more you eat healthy, the less you miss the things you thought you would! The benefits of eating good are so numerous - you will LOVE it! It's like having a secret!

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