Healthy Teachers

When my son was in second grade, his teacher was absent a lot. It seemed his class had one or more substitutes almost every week. It’s impossible for subs to run the classroom exactly as the regular teacher does, but try explaining that to an 8-year-old. He just didn’t get it, and it drove him crazy. So much so that he started to dislike school. If he was happy when I picked him up at 3 pm, I knew that his regular teacher had been there. If he was moody, it was likely because she wasn’t. 

I don’t think my son’s feelings are unique. Most students get attached to their teachers. When the teacher is absent and the classroom structure is altered, they are often affected negatively. This can be particularly true for ELs. Many come from cultural backgrounds where relationship is vitally important, and it can feel like a part of their family is missing when the teacher is absent. Not to mention they rely a lot on the established routines to know what to do. Those can go out the window with a different adult in charge.

I don’t know why my son’s teacher was gone so much, but a common reason for teacher absence is illness – either the teacher or a family member. Many times these absences are unavoidable. Your daughter gets an ear infection, or your spouse gets the flu. 

However, medical professionals tell us that some of our chronic conditions and illnesses are caused, or made worse, by our diet. Yes, I realize this is Thanksgiving week and no one wants to think about the word “diet.” Now, I’m not referring to diet in a “Put down that cookie” or “Only one piece of pizza” way – more like our overall health and relationship with food. Not a short-term thing, but a long-term commitment. 

In January 2017, my family and I embarked on a 30-day journey toward health. We committed to following The Whole30® Program for 30 days. Only 30 days. 

At the end of that month, we felt better, healthier. Our individual weight losses were in the double digits, a nice bonus. We decided to give it another 30 days. And then another 30. And another. 

Today is Day 1,060.

We are healthier now than we were then. Except for some seasonal allergies, none of us have been sick during the past three years (knocking on wood), which means we don’t have to miss school or work due to illness. 

If you’ve thought about choosing a healthier eating lifestyle, I highly recommend a Whole30® or Paleo approach. From what I can tell, the two approaches mainly differ on whether to include added sugars or not. Otherwise, they are similar, and we simply adjust Paleo-compliant recipes to make them work.  

Regardless of what you consider, talk with your doctor first, since not every eating approach is right for everyone. 

When you read about Whole30®, you might think, “This is drastic.” Yes, it is. When my son heard our family was making this commitment, his first response was, “I’m going to die! I’m just going to die!” He didn’t, of course, and will readily admit that he likes the food we eat at home. 

The authors of The Whole30® Program make a point in their book to drive home the feasibility of this plan. They contend this way of eating is not too hard. Fighting cancer is hard, but drinking coffee without sugar is not.

With Thanksgiving coming up here in the U.S., you may wonder how we handle holiday eating. It isn’t too hard to plan holiday meals that feature meat, vegetables, and fruit. Desserts are even possible. As an example, I’ll be baking Pumpkin Pie on Thursday, for which I’ve provided a link below to the recipe calling for Whole30® compliant ingredients. Give it a try!

Classic Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Recipe Note: I use ghee (clarified butter) instead of the shortening and omit the maple syrup/coconut sugar in both the crust and the filling. You’ll never miss it!

The Whole30® authors do not advocate desserts, even made of compliant ingredients, because they contend we need to break our addiction to food. However, when you’re on Day 1,060, you have to make allowances!

I am thankful you’ve chosen to join the Dear Dr. Mooney community and look forward to interacting with you more in the coming months. To those of you who have contributed to the Discussion Forums – an extra special thanks!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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