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Today's parenting: Quirky, or conscious?
February 7th, 2011
04:09 PM ET

Today's parenting: Quirky, or conscious?

In recent weeks, writer, cancer survivor and mother of two young children,  Amanda Enayati has written about pursuing a healthy life for her family by cutting excessive sugars, bad fats, dyes, preservatives and pesticides from their diet and reducing her household's "toxic burden." Today, she reflects on modern parenting and her willingness to be considered different.

Am I really that extreme about health? I don’t know that I am.

It’s possible that my pediatrician groans whenever he sees me coming. Perhaps he is a touch annoyed that I don’t let him stack my kids’ vaccinations on top of each other, that I make him spread them out over the course of months, that I demand mercury-free vaccines, that I tend to hold off on giving my children antibiotics until it’s absolutely clear that there’s no way around them.

So maybe I’m a tad eccentric.

Two weeks into considering my own approach to healthier living, I decided to conduct an informal poll of a few dozen parents on the East and West Coasts and in between to determine just how far off the beaten path I have wandered these past few years.

What types of things are you doing or not doing for your children’s health that may be considered “out of the norm?” is what I asked.

“We had our first child swimming at six months. But our second is two and a half, and hasn’t started yet and she won’t until she’s a bit older.”

Why?

“Studies show a link between swimming regularly in chlorinated swimming pools and lung damage and childhood asthma. There are no salt water or ozone pools nearby and so we will wait.”

Another mom: “I will not let my daughter straighten her (African-American) hair, even though my mother let me relax my hair as a child. My daughter has started to ask about it, but I’m not allowing anyone to slather chemicals on her head.”

“Juice!” Said a third mom. “Forget soda. I don’t even allow juice in the house. My husband’s brothers and sister all have diabetes, and fruit juice consumption has been linked to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.”

My friend Chad, the token male in the bunch, considered my question: “Did we ban anything? No. But my older daughter (who’s eight) refused to step into another fast food place after she saw the movie 'Food, Inc.' at a friend’s house last year. I kind of figured she’d get over it at some point but then we went to a wedding and one of the guests, a woman who does PR and marketing for a fast food chain, offered her some coupons for food. My daughter looked her square in the eyes and said: ‘Thank you, but we don’t eat there.’”

Interesting.

“And then there was the boycott.”

I raised an eyebrow.

“She started a boycott of a children’s website because they advertise fast food on their site. She told her friends they’re trying to ‘hypnotize’ people into eating the food. After that she started muting all the commercials in the middle of her shows.”

Another mom was downright indignant: “Oh, well, our pediatric dentist hates me for sure.”

Hates you?

“My daughter, who was four then, had a brown spot on one of her back teeth. The dentist thought the spot might be developing into a cavity and decided she would watch it closely. On that first day she took an X-ray of the tooth, which I let her do. But then she had us come in every three months over the course of that year and each of those times she wanted to X-ray that same tooth. Heck if I was going to let them X-ray my child four times in one year over a brown spot.”

She took a breath: “And here’s the thing. That dentist’s eyes rolled all the way into the back of her head each and every time I refused permission for an X-ray and then what did I see in the headlines? Widespread concerns about children’s overexposure to radiation in dentists’ chairs.”

Did you take the article in to show the dentist?

“No, but I should.”

A mom from my son’s preschool told me: “The pink and blue medicine drives me up the wall.”

What do you mean?

“About a month ago my son had these really high fevers for over a week. I took him to the doctor and they told me not to worry, but to control the fever by alternating between acetaminophen and ibuprofen. By the end of that first week we had finished our bottles, and around midnight one night I went to the drugstore to pick up more. I happened to look at the boxes and notice the inactive ingredients, a virtual ‘who’s who’ list of what not to eat - never mind if your body’s battling a virus: artificial colors, parabens, high fructose corn syrup, sodium benzoate, propylene glycol.

"Maybe I was exhausted after a week of very little sleep. I marched up to the pharmacist and demanded answers. How do you feed this kind of garbage to a child fighting off illness? We’d used two bottles of the stuff at that point! The pharmacist kept repeating that those ingredients were the medicine’s dyes and preservatives. As if somehow that made it all OK.”

So what did you do?

“Eventually the pharmacist helped me find the dye-free version of one but they were out of the other. And there was nothing I could do about the other crap. Have we really not advanced enough scientifically to figure out how to make kids’ medicine without questionable inactive ingredients? Where’s the common sense here?”

I sat there later that night, head abuzz, trying to digest everything I had heard.

Certainly our generation is approaching health, nutrition and parenting in dramatically different ways than most of our own parents did. Norms have changed as they are bound to do over time.

But there’s more underlying the myriad dos and don’ts and wills and won’ts - at least among those I spoke to: their inclination to investigate, to question that which does not appear to make sense, their expectation of thoughtful, common sense and ethical solutions. Many of these parents seem perfectly willing to march to the beat of their own drums. And, if necessary, to take their dollars elsewhere.

And it seemed to me that the common thread was a sort of consciousness: conscious living, conscious parenting, conscious consuming.

Perhaps some of these parents will be seen as extreme for now. Not for long, though. I suspect that they are the way of the future.

Amanda Enayati’s work has appeared on CNN.com, Time.com, Salon (named “10 in 2010: Our Favorite Salon Stories”), the Washington Post and "Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora" (University of Arkansas Press). You can follow her on Twitter @AmandaEnayati or her blog, practicalmagicforbeginners.com.

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soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Raspasa

    great post. i agree with you that this is the way of the future. there is lots of data showing that "consciousness" in consumption is a rapidly growing trend. on the business side, companies are starting to recognize it and modifying their brand messages accordingly. whether they're authentic or not is still to be seen.

    February 7, 2011 at 16:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. EZNYer

    Some of these seem like common sense but the woman with the Ibuprofen is a nut job. She must be a vegan nazi of some kind.

    February 7, 2011 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • PlainJane88

      I love eating meat. But I don't like that medicines have HFCS, dyes, etc. in them. And Nazi... Nazis murdered a million people and caused widespread destruction. We want better (and capitalism allows for us consumers to step up, instead of the government deciding for us) for our kids so we're Nazis. Nice.

      February 7, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse |
    • Gidgit

      You don't seem to understand what a vegan is. I'll give you a hint, it has nothing to do with Ibuprofen.

      February 7, 2011 at 18:00 | Report abuse |
    • GenCnslr

      I agree that some of what's in Tylenol and Motrin isn't an active ingredient, but is definitely necessary. Have you ever tried to get a fussy, crying, feverish baby to drink medicine he/she doesn't like? If adding high fructose corn syrup means he'll bring his fever down to a mere 101.5, I'll do it for the good of the child. Also, I try to get dye-free meds because I don't like getting that color on the clothes, sheets, etc if I can help it! The kids don't care about color; if it tastes good, they'll take it.

      February 7, 2011 at 19:01 | Report abuse |
    • Health Teach

      GenCnslr–Excellent point, if a little sugar will help to get a cranky child to take a medicine, go for it.

      As to the rest of the points in the article, what decade is this writer and the friends coming from?

      To start with, I have a great deal of experience in the health care field and I assure you that competent medical personnel today NEVER push for antibiotics unless absolutely necessary as they are worried about breeding antibiotic-resistant super bugs. Additionally, the only vaccine for children today that contains mercury in any amount is the flu shot, which can easily be obtain without at the parent's request. And, while there is absolutely no scientific basis for it whatsoever, I have never meet a pediatrician that refused to work with a parent that wanted to stretch-out shots, although I have seen on several occasions parents that carried this to an extreme and wound-up with children that were extremely sick from preventable diseases because they waited too long to immunize their children.

      Secondly, LIMITED fruit juice consumption in and of itself is NOT a risk factor for Type II Diabetes. Fruit juice consumption becomes a problem when parents allow their children to have unlimited access to juice, instead of water, because they believe it to be healthy. (To further compound the problem, many parents mistake fruit drinks for fruit juices and fruit drinks are not good choices...) Children can then develop "a sweet tooth" and overindulge in carbohydrates, become overweight-as is often the precursor to this disease, and then develop insulin issues. But, any parent that is denying their child an occasional or daily 8 ounce glass a of fruit juice is really showing their ignorance and actually causing their child to miss-out on a valuable component of a healthy immune system.

      February 7, 2011 at 20:46 | Report abuse |
    • Lydia

      Well, @Health Teach, here's the thing.
      There's absolutely zero need for juice in a child's diet, because all the nutrition within juice can come from fruits directly (which come with more fiber than juice, and have a lower glycemic index). She had numerous family members with diabetes. It's not the juice alone that's a problem, it's that in combination with the pounds of sugar in the average kid's diet it can make his/her diabetes risk increase. I don't think the mother is depriving her child of some God-given right. Rather, to my diabetic ears it sounds like she's researching, questioning, and making important and reasonable decisions for her family.

      Quick to judge, much?

      February 7, 2011 at 22:03 | Report abuse |
    • Health Teach

      Lydia, If that many family members have Type II Diabetes there is probably both a genetic and lifestyle component. (Meaning that if it's genetic than you can with hold all the sweets in the world and the child may still develop it or that the family tends to have a lifestyle choice that predispositions it like smoking or over-eating as VERY FEW Type II's are at or below their ideal body weights.) Additionally, in many rural regions of the United States, fresh produce is EXTREMELY limited during the winter months. If you don't want your child to subsist for 3-4 months on oranges and apples alone for fruit, you can expand their nutritional intake by adding some variety with 100% juices. While I agree that fresh produce is best, I do not live in utopia, but I'm glad that some people do...

      February 8, 2011 at 07:57 | Report abuse |
    • mom to 3

      Hardly, if you read the research on those ingredients you would know why she doesn't want to feed it to her children.

      February 8, 2011 at 14:52 | Report abuse |
  3. Pat Savu

    I suppose the th mom doesn't go for regular mamaograms (too mcuh radiation) and would go around flat chested (no breast implants-silcone toxicity) if she needed a mastectomy.
    Don't go to work either because that would involve sending your kids to day care with all that food full of "toxic burden". and all the fruit juice. Teach you kids to eat healthy and exercise within the bounds of modern scoity, but unless you want to secede to a moutaintop, a lot of stuff is unavoidable in modern life.

    February 7, 2011 at 17:12 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Floris

      Once you have kids you might understand better. A grown woman can weigh the risks of her own treatments. When her children grow up they can do the same. But while they are children, she has to weigh the risks for them and try to keep them safe when possible. I'm sure your mommy does the same for you.

      February 7, 2011 at 19:23 | Report abuse |
    • Lydia

      A competent dentist should be able to tell if a spot is a cavity without 4 xrays per year, unless her bank account is too lean. A breast exam, that's another (deadly) story altogether.

      Someone can be conscious of their decisions and careful consumers without wearing a loincloth and swinging from trees. Maybe not you, but it can be done.

      February 7, 2011 at 22:05 | Report abuse |
    • Marie

      Is it just me noticing that every kid in the US has crooked teeth and needs braces? Or is it that orthodontists are trying to get as much money out of responsible parents as they can? From what I read I understand that average treatment is supposed to last about a year, yet I don't know anyone here who wore braces for less than 3.

      February 7, 2011 at 23:29 | Report abuse |
    • mom to 3

      If someone else chooses to not have breast implants, why would that be of any concern to you?

      February 8, 2011 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
  4. Sarah in Texas

    Parents seem to be concentrated at two ends of the spectrum – those who are completely absent and indifferent and those "helicopter parents" who are much too involved in their children's lives. A happy medium seems the best to me – set rules and consequences, model healthy and responsible behavior, teach important lessons, and let your children grow in their independence as they age. Is it really that hard?

    February 7, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mama-of-Three

      Yes, it REALLY is that hard!
      Parenting is the hardest job out there.

      February 7, 2011 at 17:46 | Report abuse |
    • Justamom

      Yes, it is that hard. Especially when no matter what you do, someone is going to judge you harshly. Mix in being a first-time parent, and it's even harder. EVERYONE has an opinion. I try to take the middle road, but if I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of caution.

      February 7, 2011 at 19:54 | Report abuse |
    • Faith

      Uh...no, "mama of three" it isn't. It also isn't a job, it's a lifestyle choice.

      February 8, 2011 at 01:23 | Report abuse |
    • Mama-of-Three

      @Faith... yes, being a parent is a job and it takes a lot of work. It's not "JUST" a lifestyle choice. If it was easy, then we would all do it "right" and all our kids would be perfect.

      February 10, 2011 at 23:22 | Report abuse |
  5. Mama-of-Three

    @EZNYer... we try to purchase ONLY dye-free children's pain relievers, when they are available. It's really not that strange... something about the yellow and red food coloring makes my kids hyper. I'd rather not give my children more garbage, especially when their immune system is compromised.

    @Pat Savu... I don't think it's out of the ordinary to want to protect our children from things that seem unnecessary... for example, fluoride in toothpaste and drinking water. Standard for years and now the U.S. wants to reduce the amount of fluoride in drinking water because of the potential of CAUSING dental problems from the over-exposure to the mineral.

    February 7, 2011 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. M

    Awesome article, except it seems to have the worry that being an overly cautious parent can become a bad thing. Can you imagine a more perfectly engrained message, obviously sent by food companies? "If you worry too much, you're a bad parent." HAHA! 50 years ago if some one said you should stop watching your kids they would laugh at you. Yes you shoud watch your kids. You should regulate every single thing they eat. Duh... I don't think Ben and Jerry are up to the task. We have to stop this sickness of modeling ourselves after lazy people, in order to spare their feelings. You're lazy, bud out, I want my kids to be healthy.

    February 7, 2011 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • GenCnslr

      I think it's all a matter of degree – growing up I had friends who weren't allowed to eat sugar, so they'd go to birthday parties and couldn't eat any cake or ice cream. No cookies, homemade pudding, no cinnamon or banana bread, etc. They would watch everyone else and couldn't have any, even on special occasions. Or they have health restrictions that they impose on their children even when they're out of the house. I think sometimes parents are too extreme.

      February 7, 2011 at 19:06 | Report abuse |
  7. Belinda @zomppa

    Not having any children, I'm probably shooting my mouth here. I don't see why not letting your kids eat junk food or watching what they eat as quirky – it's what we should be doing – and what our parents probably should have been doing more, though I guess we weren't really raised in a time of such heightened consciousness and available information.

    February 7, 2011 at 18:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Dizzyd

    I agree parents should be cautious, but don't go overboard. Don't go by society's idea of health (only thin is acceptable), feed your kids good, nutritious food and let them decide how much to eat – neither pushing or restricting food. Encourage them to play outside without making it seem like a chore. And allow an occasional treat. Keep chemicals away if they don't need it. And most of all, let them be themselves and love them.

    February 7, 2011 at 20:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Health Teach

      Well said, MODERATION is the key. An occasional treat isn't the end of the world...

      February 7, 2011 at 20:50 | Report abuse |
  9. Jessica

    I understand you want to protect your child from everything. I try to do it to a certain extent with my children. I do tend to back off and let kids be kids sometimes. I don't want to create a "paranoid" child so to speak and I don't want my kids to be afraid of everything they touch. As hard as it is to worry about this and worry about that, we as parents need to back away and let them enjoy being kids.

    February 7, 2011 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Soni

    I am a first-time parent of an 11 month old. One problem I am having with the food and medication, is that they all have these very new ingredients, like HFCS and hormones, etc. No one knows what a life time of ingesting these chemicals will do to anyone's growth and development. We have already been seeing children hit puberty earlier and earlier, some people blame HGH. I definitely check everything he eats; however, it's difficult to avoid it all. And, as far as this becoming a mainstream way of thinking, I think it is in the larger cities; however, I live in a smaller town and don't even tell anyone I make his baby food for fear of being judged. Yes, I have been questioned about why I make his baby food!

    February 7, 2011 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. RPh

    1. As a pharmacist I would not recommend alternating between Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen as that is one of the number one causes of overdose of both medications (sorry side not) ... I do not think that by avoiding all of these "toxins" your child will live any longer. I grew up on normal food.. went through a fast food phase maybe through high school and very rarely in college... drank plenty of juice.... and reached a max of 140 pounds (probably due to beer ... should definitely have gone with juice during those years) .. never developed diabetes. If your husbands brothers and sisters have diabetes its HIGHLY linked to genetics and I don't think juice is the cause. I am a huge fan of choosing healthier versions (less sodium...even organic) but the parents I usually see doing this seem to think this is going to prevent cancer and their children will live a longer, healthier life... FALSE. It's all about moderation not cutting everything out of your life.

    February 7, 2011 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kimi

      Well said!!...altho im quite surprised to hear u say that about the acetaminophen/ibuprofen...every doctor/pediatrician my kids have had have told me to give that to them by alternating...infact, even the hospital did it when my youngest had RSV...i have generally found that its smart to ask a pharmisist what their opinion is about prescribed meds (as they seem to know waaay more then the doctors alot of times) but i never questioned the other.....i do totally agree that moderation is the key...after all, if u cant enjoy the fun, sweet things in life occasionally then what is there to enjoy?? 😉

      February 8, 2011 at 00:52 | Report abuse |
  12. UseYourBrain

    Well, sure, if it can be helped, why expose our kids to trash? I use organic cleaners and ingredients for the most part.
    But while you'll find no sweets, juices, sodas or junk food at our house, my son is not going to keel over either if he is fed a hotdog at his school cafeteria or a muffin at a birthday party.
    Besides, if the parents constantly monitor and control what their chidren do or eat, how are those children going to learn to make the right choice and decisions?
    Also, I am surprised that nobody mentionned the plague that depletes our children intellect: Television.
    When my son arrived, we simply cancelled cable. I feel that children under 10 have no business watching tv or the internet. It makes them passive, unimaginative, asocial and lazy (personal opinion!), therefore the occasional dvd (selected for content and moral values) becomes an earned privilege, not a right.
    As a result, my son (5) is super-sociable, runs outside with the dog, listen to all kinds of music, plays with his (gender-neutral) toys, helps willingly with chores, and reads, reads, reads (at 2nd grade level).
    I'll be darned if television becomes our babysitter!

    February 7, 2011 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • LEB

      You do realize that you're putting your child at a disadvantage by banning them from technology, right? Today's technological innovators (read: very, very rich people) grew up with computers, and the internet is one of the greatest human inventions of all time. Limitless knowledge sharing is a powerful thing.

      Adults who were once kids playing Nintendo and adventure games on their old IBM PCs are now developing super cool things like iPhones and GPS devices and new medical technology, such as cochlear implants so the deaf can hear and bionic limbs so the impaired can live normally. If today's kids are exposed to these wonders, just imagine what they'll create when they grow up! Limiting imagination indeed.

      February 8, 2011 at 03:19 | Report abuse |
  13. LEB

    Okay, the medicine mom irritated me. There are preservatives in medicines so they don't go bad and make you sick. There are dyes in medicine because pills are identified by color, shape, and any numbers or letters stamped into them. There is lower risk for medicine mix ups when the pills all look different. If the pharmacological industry made all pills the same color, then OTHER parents would be mad about how their kids took the wrong medicine because there was no way to distinguish it from other medications.

    Too much parental obsession can lead to an overly cautious, fearful, paranoid, hypochondriac, phobia-riddled kid. What good does watching parents freak out over every little thing do for a child? Instead, children should watch their parents calmly ask questions, gather information, and then make rational choices based on the information they have. If new information emerges, kids should witness their parents updating their opinions. You want your kid to be able to make good judgments on their own, not to be afraid of the world and everything in it.

    February 7, 2011 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. angie

    I am a mom. Fairly young 24....what is wrong with you people?! Kids have been playing in dirt and eating crap for decades. My grandfather lived near a rubber plant and grew up eating white castle, soda pop and mars cand bars and hes still alive at 93, not a damn problem. I'm not saying thats good but damn folks! Quit sheltering your kids from everything, eventually it will be given to them at some point and what are ya gonna do...call the police?? have them arrested for poisioning your kids...get real.

    February 7, 2011 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Jim

    "And it seemed to me that the common thread was a sort of consciousness: conscious living, conscious parenting, conscious consuming."

    It seems to me that the common thread is that you got exactly what you asked for. You asked for people to tell you what "out of the norm" things they are doing for their children's health and you heard from a handful of hyper-concerned parents.

    Several of the stories you relate mention "studies" the show one thing or another. I'd bet that most of these have been either poorly conducted or simply misunderstood. And THAT is the most striking thing from your story – parents who are willing to believe just about anything if they can find some "study" to justify their nonsensical beliefs.

    Your respondant that mentioned "“Studies show a link between swimming regularly in chlorinated swimming pools and lung damage and childhood asthma."" is an example of one that missed the mark and twisted the facts at the same time. There is exactly ONE study that came up with a possible correlation between children using INDOOR pools and asthma. That study had a huge caveat in it saying that the study itself did not prove causation, was to small to be conclusive in any way and outdoor chlorinated pools didn't show any correlation. Did that parent even read the actual study or were they just parroting something they read in some parenting magazine?

    February 7, 2011 at 21:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RWC

      You lost me at the chlorine study, Jim. I'm afraid you have your science all wrong. Yes, there is the one European study about the connection between indoor pools and asthma in young children but the linkage between lung damage & chlorine is well-known and widely accepted.

      February 7, 2011 at 23:46 | Report abuse |
  16. Health Teach

    Jim, I forgot to address that point in my earlier reply, I'm glad you caught it!

    February 7, 2011 at 21:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Sporky

    This woman is obviously ignorant of science. If you live your life and attempt to run your children's lives on "studies suggest...", you will go insane. Seriously, various researchers do a million types of studies on what we should or should not eat, and the best thing I have heard yet is "Find out what works for YOU". Hell, Julia Child cooked everything with butter and cream, and lived to be 91, based on "small portions, no snacking, (something else)". Most food additives are perfectly safe, and serve a real purpose: making sure your food isn't ROTTEN when you open it, for one! The only one I am skeptical of is HFCS, and that's because I read the actual studies and drew my own *rational* conclusion.

    February 7, 2011 at 22:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. cassie

    what makes the whole situation comical is that it is stress that is doing the most harm in my life, the more i worry about food coloring and xrays the more stressed i will be. i think all good things in moderation, and that rule even applies to health. no ones saying feed your child soda all day every day. but forbiding them from ever touching it seems extreem 2. and it will only add to YOUR stress. relax, think, and most of all dont worry so much. make life enjoyable and quit worrying about death so much.

    February 7, 2011 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mikeh3775

    Some of these parents need to know that eating to much fruits that are naturally high in sugar(like apples) are also bad for kids and can lead to diabetes also.

    I allow my kids to eat and drink what they want in moderation, if they want fast food, thats fine, but see I do something that many parents do not do at all, and thats PLAY WITH THE KIDS OUTSIDE. I also LIMIT THE VIDEO GAME/INTERNET time as well. My kids get a set amount per week,1 hour internet and 1 hour video game or 2 hours of 1 a day and only after the homework and chores are done, and on the weekends three times that(Fri and Sat only) and the funny thing is, I have kids who rather play outside than stay inside, especially in the summer

    February 8, 2011 at 00:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Philip

    @RPh...hogwash 1.)Acetominophen was exposed as dangerouus to the human liver back in 1972, but the FDA released it anway. Americans consume nearly 10 billion Tylenol(acetominophen) per yr. This, along with even moderate drinking of alcohol makes US sick...and makes big-pharma rich(er) This dangerous drug should NEVER be taken by anyone, let alone a kid. hogwash 2.) Type 2 diabetes is not hereditary. It is the consequences of not eating your fruits and veggies. The bodies natural eliminmation cycle occurs in the morning. If you are eliminating more than this one time per day, your system is fouled. There is only one way known to science to eliminate toxins (and fat) from a human cell: after 20 min. of direct uv exposure, your body manufactures a chemical from the previous days live green vegetables. Without sunlight and live greens, your body will not be able to properly digest food, leading to all sorts of ailments, incl. type 2. Fruit is essential even in the form of juice for everyone, not just kids. It takes 80% of your body's energy just to digest food. (why this is done while you sleep) Fruit contains citric acid, and when consumed in the morning helps break food down, saves energy, and makes eliminating waste easier. Also, until your pupil has been exposed to at least 20 min. of direct ultraviolet light, a human simple cannot metabolize vitamins.(very well) If people, including children, just ate their fruits and veggies, got plenty of sunlight, and used the extra energy this lifestyle affords to excercise a bit, big-pharma and 80% of doctors would go out of business. That"s why you will NEVER see this info being displayed in your doctors office. Lots of big-pharma advertisements though.

    February 8, 2011 at 05:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. countrygirl

    I think that this type of "conscious parenting" is what has replaced what parents used to do, ie: discipline their children and teach them life skills. I'm not sure if they are related or what has gone wrong, but I see far too many parents worrying over a minute ingredient in something that their kids might eat while totally ignoring teaching their kids self control or respectful behavior. I wonder if these sorts of decisions are the only things we feel we have control over as parents.

    February 8, 2011 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Really?

    @Philip... nost sure where you get your info from but someone gave it to you wrong. And I see all kinds of food pyrimods promoting healthy fruits and veggies and all the other good stuff your body needs in every doctors office.

    And with my 11 month old the only thing I was "parinoid" about was making sure that he didn't get certian things to early like eggs and nuts, the kinda things that can contain a high food allergy. I started out in small portions to make sure that his body would not reject it. I grew up on meat and potatoes playing bare foot in the dairy barn and have grown up just fine, I rarely get sick. It seems to me the people who are afraid to eat a little dirt are always getting sick.

    February 8, 2011 at 07:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. glenview0818

    Well, I imagine “conscious” parenting could be about what they physically consume, but I think electronic gadgets are doing all the parenting in the US today, while the these “conscious” emotionally absentee parents are crying about why the teachers aren’t doing a better job. Which is obviously the fault of the parents, not someone else. No one wants to take the blame for anything; everything is someone else’s fault or job.

    February 8, 2011 at 07:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Mom and Teacher

    I can only hope that this 'conscious' parenting is extending to behavior, as well. Based on my students, though, I would say not. Sad when moms are more concerned with abstract extremes than with their child's ability to listen, follow directions, and appropriately participate in class.
    On the mom angle, my pediatrician keeps me up on nutrition concerns. Juice is a big problem in my house (babysitter tends to let them have unlimited amounts), but we're working on it. I don't live 'utopia' either, so sunshine and outside play get hard to come by in the winter. As far as meds, our doctor has always told us to use the acetaminophen first (until the kids are 6), and follow with ibuprofen only if the fever hasn't broken yet. With my second child, he was very adamant that we add peanut butter exposure by 9 months. Apparently, all that being afraid of allergies has done is give us the highest number of peanut allergies in history. Our dentist recommends tap water because of the flouride.

    February 8, 2011 at 08:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. answers1

    Ridiculous nanny-ism. Don't drink water and don't breathe air- you'll live longer.

    February 8, 2011 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Ally

    I consider myself a conscious and hard-working parent, not quirky. I do most of what's listed here. I can count the number of times my kids have eaten at a fast food restaurant on one hand. I won't buy chicken nuggets, but fed them meatballs and veggies as toddlers. Now they eat what we eat, which is only meat and veggies (very little pasta, rice, bread, etc). We buy organic milk, grass fed beef or bison and make an effort to get organic foods when possible. My kids watch very little TV (an occasional movie or TV show once or twice a month), play some video games during long trips (we take 8-9 hour plane and car trips at least once a year) and they go on the computer every so often (not daily). They are allowed treats for special occasions, they have ice cream at school along with other friends, and they get occasional treats at home and in their lunches. We go out to dinner once a week, but we swap the fries for veggies. They go trick-or-treating, but usually end up forgetting about most of their candy after a week, and it gets donated.

    All of this takes some effort (especially when I don't want to make a homemade dinner every night), but my kids are at the top of their classes, very creative, curious, mostly calm, happy and so far very healthy. It was tiring when they were toddlers to make something healthy that they would eat, but now that I'm watching other parents struggle to change their kids' bad eating habits, I'm glad that I made the effort. Now that they are older, we talk a lot about why we don't overeat, why we don't go to fast food restaurants, why we limit junk food, why we don't eat too many sweets (diabetes is rampant in my family), and they understand more and more.

    I am not quirky, I'm just a parent making an effort to give my children the best I can do (without waiting for a pill or easy answer)!

    February 8, 2011 at 09:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      Golf Clap- You are the World's Greatest Mother. And um, FYI, parents who take their children to McD's weekly, don't make their own baby food, give their children medicines with flavorings and dye in them, let them drink juice, let them leap off the couch etc are NOT BAD PARENTS.

      I feel bad for your kid because you will no doubt be the very essence of helicopter parent. Good luck with that btw.

      February 8, 2011 at 11:56 | Report abuse |
  27. Ashley

    Another article full of "facts" to start a frenzy with parents. Its always something we are doing/ arent doing, feeding our kids/ not feeding our kids, telling our kids/ not telling our kids... We are tunring parenting into a joke! My daughter has eaten her fair share of crap, she also prefers fruit all day... well i cant just let her eat that can i? She has watched large amounts of tv as well, she also prefers to be outside and i have to drag her behind inside at dinner time, she is 18 months old, so am i doing it wrong? Dyes in medicine? what i freaking joke, there are dyes in just about everything, i cant spend my life reading the labels because a little dye MAY or MAY NOT harm her. I also tend to spread the vaccines out but not too terribly much, we go in every 6 weeks and i let them vaccinate her up! Most vaccines are mercury free and the ones that arent have a better chance of saving her life then harming her. If you kid is fat from juice and fast food, thats YOUR fault, get their butts outside and play with them, if they are sick and you refuse to give them meds because it has dye in it its YOUR fault if things get worse. Your child is NOT going to get diabetes from juice.. if its in the family and she is going to get it, its because its in her already! People just need to chill, we all turned out great and our parents werent half as uptight as people these days. 10, 15, 20 years from now all this will be garbage and forgotten about and we will be moved on to something else....

    February 8, 2011 at 09:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Crystal

    If most parents spent HALF as much time parenting as they did judging other parents, our children would be so much better off. Different things work for different families.

    February 8, 2011 at 16:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Ferris

    Give me a break. Too many parents are overly concious. Everyday, it's something new to worry about. Look at the vaccine, autism link. Totally bogus. To be aware and to be paranoid are two different things. Some things in moderation are fine.

    February 8, 2011 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. H.W. Elliott

    Great. An article that celebrates these dimwitted, half-educated parents who think that just because they read some CNN health article, they suddenly know better than health professionals. "Studies show that..." "It's been suggested that..." Do you people even look at the so-called studies you're basing your children's medical decisions on? Have you traced them back to their source to check what standards of rigor they meet? Do you know how the data was collected?

    No, you idiots just swallow what CNN tells you without investigating any further and then pat yourselves on the back for your critical-thought approach to parenting. You think that just because you have some rinky-dink bachelor's degree in marketing and had to complete some general-education requirement in statistics fifteen years ago in college, that you suddenly understand things people with PhDs haven't figured out. You people are the pathetic result of middle-class privilege, low educational standards, and American anti-intellectualism. Please stop destroying my country and jeopardizing your innocent children's health. Thanks.

    Oh, and another thing. I'm twenty-two years old and was raised by a physician. I took antibiotics, ate fast food, had soda with practically every meal, and didn't put a single piece of organic produce to my lips until college. Oh, and my parents also let me spend most of my weekends in a double-wide trailer with three chain-smokers. Guess what? I'm healthy as a horse. My mother ran behind the DDT truck and played with mercury thermometers when she was little. She's got a master's degree and has never had any serious health problems. If any of y'all knew anything, you wouldn't be so paranoid. Human beings are pretty tough, people. Your body can take a whole lot of abuse. That's what God designed it to do.

    February 8, 2011 at 18:31 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.