baby-655365_960_720[1]Somehow I always got the cart with the squealing wheel. I wrestled it through the twists and turns of the grocery store, throwing in rattling boxes of macaroni and cheese, rubbery hot dogs, chicken nuggets, whole milk, white bread, peanut butter, giant slabs of frozen pizza, and pastel-colored breakfast cereal in enormous plastic bags.

At the last aisle of the store, I stopped and turned around. The final aisle was the forbidden zone, a foreign and mysterious territory, a place I thought was off-limits to poor moms like me.

fruits-25266_960_720[1]The produce aisle.

We can't afford it, I told myself. We won't eat it, and it will all go bad anyway. Fresh produce is for people with money. I maneuvered the cart toward the checkout lane.

Looking back, I know my daughter and I were very blessed. We never went hungry. Though we lived for many years on one minimum-wage income, we always had enough to eat, and for that I am very grateful.

But I have wondered what I could have done differently to feed my daughter more nutritiously on the resources we had.

"It's not all or nothing," says Meg, a Health Coach for the Dr. Sears L.E.A.N. lifestyle and nutrition program. Meg encourages moms to make small changes, small shifts in thinking about the way we feed our families.

"You can't change the way you eat all at once, or it won't be sustainable," Meg explains. She says small changes are less shocking to a family's habits and finances.

Meg offers a few small steps moms can take to provide more nutritious food for their families.

  • Add one fruit or vegetable serving a day.
  • Scrub fresh fruits and vegetables, or wash them with vinegar. We don't need to buy organic produce.
  • Watch for sales and buy less expensive varieties. Apples are still apples.
  • Have fun. Try new things, and let your children see you enjoying healthy changes.
  • Experiment with small amounts of new, unfamiliar foods. Buy one star fruit and sample it with your children.

"Do what works for your family," Meg continues. "Realize this season of life is not forever, and do the best you can with what you have. Your family will benefit."

The Dr. Sears Wellness Institute offers lifestyle, exercise, and nutrition information and support. The website provides a blog about health and nutrition, pages of recipes and shopping tips, and the opportunity to become a certified Health Coach like Meg. In future posts Meg will share an explanation of Dr. Sears' Traffic Light Foods and guidance on how to read nutrition labels.

My family and financial situation have changed since the days I avoided the produce aisle. More importantly, my old attitude of "We can't afford it" has changed to: We can afford it. We deserve it, and I want to be healthy.

Now the produce aisle is my first stop in the grocery store. I buy bags of apples, oranges, and little baby carrots. I choose Romaine lettuce with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and raspberry vinaigrette dressing. We like cauliflower roasted in olive oil and sweet potatoes baked with real butter.

girl-253574_960_720[1]But somehow I still get the cart with the screeching wheel.

What has been your experience in the grocery store? How do you find nutritious alternatives for your family?



The child's shrieks sounded down the narrow hallway. Amanda, the eye care technician, crept quietly toward Exam Room 2. She slowly opened the door and cautioned a peek inside the room where an angry woman straddled a kicking, screaming, squirming 5-year-old and another eye tech wrestled to control the child's tossing, turning head.

Amanda stepped backwards and silently shut the door. She immediately knew the source of the chaos in Exam Room 2.

Eye drops.

Eye drops are the cause of fear and trauma for many young patients in the eye doctor's office. Pink eye is common in children in adults, and everyone sooner or later will probably have to face the dreaded bottle of medicated drops. Moms can take a few simple steps to help alleviate the drama of pink eye for their children.

Pink eye, or "conjunctivitis," is a general term that refers to any irritated or inflamed eyes. Pink eye can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergies, or irritants like chlorine and other chemicals. Pink eye is identified by red, watery eyes, and that crusty, gunky stuff that sticks the eyelids together and looks nasty.

To help prevent pink eye:

Teach children to wash their hands often and to use soap.

Don't share towels or wash cloths.

Wash sheets, pillow cases, and towels frequently and in hot water.

When a child does show symptoms of pink eye, visit a doctor right away. Some forms of pink eye will go away on their own, but if left untreated, some pink eye could progress to serious and sight-threatening infections. Follow the doctor's orders and use all the drops or other medications he or she recommends.

Since most children will eventually get a case of pink eye and need medicated drops, a mom can prepare her child for the experience and avoid the drama of prying open the eyelids of a squirming, crying child.

One couple brought their 1-year-old to Amanda's office and showed how they had made their daughter accustomed to eye drops and unafraid of the eye doctor experience.

IMG_0218They bought a bottle of unmedicated, artificial tears for a couple of dollars, like this one from Walmart.

When the baby was only a few months old, Mom and Dad started practicing with using the artificial tears.

"Look. Watch Daddy." Dad dropped a few drops of the artificial tears in his own eye, then dropped a few pain-free drops in the baby's eyes.

The baby blinked and looked surprised, but she did not cry. She didn't squirm, scream, or feel afraid. And Amanda didn't have to help hold a kicking, fighting child.

What suggestions do you have for helping your child use eye drops or medications? What have you done to prepare your child for a visit to the doctor's office?