Healthy Parents… Healthy Kids!

I am currently shifting focus on this blog since I now find myself in a different phase of life as I am staring down 40.  I also have 3 very young children.  My wife and I put most of what we have into raising these kids.  There is no doubt that we will be very busy for the next 15-20 years.  We have also tried very hard to live responsibly when it comes to our finances and expect that we will have most of the bills fully paid by the time the kids start leaving the house… which will put me at about age 55 or 60.

The irony here is that many Americans are on this same path… work hard to raise your kids, save for retirement, all the while neglecting your own health.  Then when you finally reach the “golden years,” you may have a wad of money in the bank and a wonderful family but you are too busy dealing with the complications of high-blood pressure and diabetes to actually enjoy those years.  This is insane.  I am setting out to radically modify this approach in my own life.  However, the real benefit is that by focusing on my own health, I will change the cultural norms within my own family…and then pass them on to my kids and grandkids.  So even if my health has not been a high priority, as a parent, I am obligated to make it a priority for the sake of my kids and grandkids.  So moving forward, I plan to shift the concept of this blog to Heathy Parents… Healthy Kids!

Know your opponent

Most educated people spend their time worrying about things that are very unlikely to have an impact on their health.  Things like organic and BPA-free seem to be the hot topics these days.  While educating ourselves about these things may be part of making healthy choices, they are not the things that are likely to end our life early or sap the vitality out of those “golden years.”

Nope.  The things that will get us are listed in the chart below. I will spend the next several months going through them one-by-one.  With each disease on this list, I will examine the medical literature and try to determine what steps I should take to maximize the chances that I can prevent them or delay the onset as long as possible.  No one can live forever and I certainly have no desire to do so.  However, what I am focused on is what my health will be at age 55 or 60.  If I play my cards right, it will be excellent, and I will have 30 or more years to enjoy those kids my wife I worked so hard to raise.  Decades to travel with my wife and do all the things we may have put on hold while raising our kids.  As I am writing this it is truly ironic that we put so much time into financial planning for retirement, with so little thought as to how to arrive there in good health.

So heart attack is still #1 and cancer is not far behind.  The next 3 (stroke, emphysema/COPD, and Alzheimer’s) are things that often do not kill us right away.  Rather they but sap us of vitality and functionality leading to a slow demise.  What is really amazing is the next chart that looks at modifiable risk factors for developing these killers.  Virtually all of these things are modifiable, or even curable, with life-style improvements.

Public Enemy #1

So first I plan to set my sights on heart disease and figuring out exactly what I need to do to achieve optimal heart health.  There is a wealth of confusion on this topic.  So I will try and go through things systematically using the following approach:

  1. What are the specific modifiable risk factors for each disease?
  2. What are the specific non-medication modifications that can reduce or eliminate risk?
  3. How can I reasonably incorporate these things into my life?
  4. How can I measure success?

A few key words above that are worth repeating.  Non-medication is a big one.  It has been well established that life-style modifications are superior in every respect to medication when it comes to preventing and treating most chronic illness.  I am in search of optimal health and popping a pill each day is not going to get me there.  The other keyword is reasonable.  Drinking fresh beet juice that I grow in a backyard organic garden may be reasonable for some people, but it is not reasonable for me.  Neither is exercising for 2 hours a day or becoming a vegan.  The key to optimal health is putting something into practice that I can actually do… not for a few weeks but for a life-time.

Generic Infant Formula

The goal of this page is not to debate formula versus breast milk.  That debate is over and there is just no comparison between the two.  However, there are plenty of people that, either by choice or necessity, decide to formula feed their babies.  This is not for me to judge.  In fact our second son has been on formula since about 4 months of age.

The real question is… Do I really need expensive name brand formula? [Read more...]

Babywise and scheduling… after 2 babies!

Baby #2, moving to a new city, starting a new job, and the beginnings of raising our first 2-year-old required a brief hiatus from blogging. While this time has been devoid of blogging, it has been very rich in personal experiences to blog about. Today I am covering the idea of putting your baby on a schedule, which is the focus of most of the controversy when it comes to [Read more...]

Peak Fussiness

I am happy to report that we are at the 5-week mark with baby #2. In virtually every way baby #2 has been much easier than baby #1. Mostly we attribute this to less trial and error parenting on our part rather than any major difference [Read more...]

No Tylenol for Fever?

If you have read much of what I write about fever, you might find it strange that I tell parents not to give their children Tylenol™ and Motrin™ when they have a fever.  In fact, if you read my Myths & Facts section on fever you will see this:

Myth #3: If I reduce my child’s fever, they will get better sooner. [Read more...]

A fatal blow to the anti-abstinence crowd?

During my career I have watched the “progressive” crowd tout the naivety of an abstinence approach to sex education in teens and adolescents.  They generally go on to push shelling out all kinds of contraceptives to specific “at-risk” populations (like the poor, our school children, sub-Saharan Africans, etc.) while they stand on their pedestal of arrogance lecturing about how ridiculous it is to try and promote abstinence. [Read more...]

Babywise and the Infant Sling?

In the ongoing debate between Attachment parenting and Babywise parenting it seems that the infant sling is viewed as a tool for attachment parenting only and has no role in a Parent-Directed (Babywise) approach.  However, now that we have two children, my wife decided to test out the sling as a matter of necessity (better to have two free hands to chase our 2-year old around the house). [Read more...]

Iron Drops for Babies?

I am often asked about the need to supplement newborn babies with Iron while breastfeeding.  What seems like a simple question is actually a rather complex issue.  This post is meant to provide parents with the information they need to intelligently discuss this concept with their pediatrician.  Then you, the parent, should decide whether Iron Supplements are appropriate for your baby. [Read more...]

How to Prevent Ear Infections

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  I am not sure who originally made this quote, but it is certainly true when it comes to ear infections. It is estimated that ear infections cost American families somewhere in the ball park of $5 Billion every year.  This is not to mention the subjective expense of [Read more...]

Does pulling at the ears mean ear infection?

I cannot count the number of times I have seen someone in the ER because their child is pulling at their ears.  No fever or fussiness. No runny nose or cough.  Eating well and drinking well.  Just concern that this could be a subtle sign of an ear infection.

Well, my subjective experience in the ER is that 10 times out of 10 these happy, playful [Read more...]