Raising a healthy family starts in the kitchen. Even on those busy days, the last thing on your mind might be to rush home and make food for your family. But, we know there is a long-term reward in whipping out the pots and pans to make your family a healthy, balanced meal. Health enthusiasts Roy and Allison Barberi are making sure their children (all 12 of them) are living a healthy lifestyle by instilling the importance of a balanced meal. They share health tips on their website, Our Healthy Ways, for other parents to follow in their footsteps.
MomViews: You and your husband are raising twelve beautiful children, five of which you have adopted. How do you find the time to give them each the attention they desire?
Allison Barberi: With such a large number of children, we feel it’s important for them to each be able to express their individuality and not get lost in the crowd. We encourage them to pursue their own interests. In order to give them individual attention, we take one or two children with us whenever we go out to run errands. On the weekends, Roy does some running around that he didn’t get done during the week, and the children take turns going with him. Even our adult married children continue to take part in this tradition.
MV: Healthy eating is something my parents have instilled in me since my brothers and I were younger. How was the process of introducing your children to the different types of food?
AB: When we initially started eating healthfully, we were transitioning from a typical American diet. We switched completely overnight, so there was quite a difference. I’d say it was a hard transition for a short period of time, but our children quickly adjusted, because there were no other options 🙂
MV: I have read articles stating how important it is to keep children away from “junk foods,” and there are other articles that state parents should do the opposite. What is your take on this?
AB: In the past, I would have said to stay away from junk foods, but after living this way for years, we realize that life isn’t like that. There will always be junk food around, but I believe when you are first changing your family’s diet, it’s a good idea to get rid of the junk food just to get used to the new foods. Our policy now is that if the children are at someone else’s house and are offered food not on our eating plan, we let them make the choice of whether to eat it or not.
MV: Cravings are sometimes my worst enemy! Whenever I want something sweet I weigh out the options, and most times I just pick up a piece of fruit, but there are times chocolate wins. What do you do when your sweet tooth kicks in?
AB: We choose sweet, water-rich fruit when we want something sweet. We stay so satiated with sweet fruit that I honestly don’t have cravings for other sweet foods.
MV: What advice would you give to a mother that says she just does not have the time and/or the money to invest and prepare healthy meals?
AB: I do agree that junk food can often be less expensive than healthy food, and that’s a shame. However, you can find good deals on fresh produce if you look for it. We always ask the produce managers for discounts. Ultimately, you will either pay now or pay later–pay now for healthy food or pay later for doctor’s bill and time off from work for sick leave. As far as time goes, fruit is the ultimate fast food.
Allison has written My Sister Abby, an illustrated children’s book on multicultural adoption. Ideal for ages 3-7, it notes the obvious differences between siblings in an adoptive family, but focuses more on their shared interests and similarities. It teaches children about diversity and acceptance and what truly makes a family a family.
Thanks for joining me this week. Stop by next Wednesday for insights on how one mother recently let go of a toxic relationship to focus on her daughter. Also, don’t forget to check out last week’s post on how Julie Martin has raised two lovely daughters, back-to-back.