My mom didn’t give me many health tips.
So you may be wondering why I’m writing about this topic. In five short months, I’m going to become a mother. (Internally freaking out.) And even though my mom never gave tips, per se, the wisdom she bestowed upon me is more important than ever.
She never told me to go on a diet or not eat certain foods. She didn’t have many strange home remedies that would cure any illness. And she never forced me to exercise—although she did help me foster a love of sports and working out.
Not hearing much advice—whether positive or negative—made me a healthier, happier person.
My mom said it was intentional. She never wanted me to feel self-conscious about how I looked. Most people already compare themselves to friends or celebrities. Add in how a parent thinks you should look and it can really mess with your physical and emotional well-being.
Because my mom is the best mom ever—I know everyone says that, but it’s true—she’s offered up many pearls of wisdom over the years. In fact, she’s still teaching me to live a healthy life well into adulthood.
Here are five health tips she taught me, just leading by example.
Tip #1: What you don’t know can’t hurt you—even if it means withholding information.
When I was 10 years old, I got my two front teeth knocked back while running in gym class. I was tall for my age and ran into a kid quite a few inches shorter than me.
The hit jockeyed my teeth loose and caused permanent root damage. The dentist told my mom the teeth could eventually turn black and possibly fall out. She never told me about it. Neither of those things happened, but she didn’t want me to worry about it until I was an adult and could do something about it.
I’m glad she did. Because even though I have a tooth that’s dead and looks slightly gray, I was never embarrassed by it. Even as an adult it doesn’t bother me. Plus, I can tell a pretty cool story about how I got my teeth knocked back.
By not telling me, she saved me years of being self-conscious about my smile.
Tip #2: Make meal time a priority.
Before I got really busy in high school, I had dinner with my parents and older sister almost every night. If I wasn’t at a softball game, cross-country meet, or play rehearsal, we had a home-cooked meal together.
I really miss her cooking.
Eating a meal as a family—or even with just your spouse—helps you connect with them. Plus, it’s healthier than going out to eat every night.
I plan out dinners for the week, write them on a whiteboard, and my husband always knows what we’re going to eat each night. Then he can be prepared to make the meal with me as we talk about our days.
Tip #3: Being a picky eater is acceptable.
This goes along with the second tip from my mom—and it’s one of the few I disagree with, now. She reinforced the idea that being a picky eater was acceptable.
I didn’t eat pizza for the longest time, opting for cereal instead. Over the years, I became more adventurous with what I ate. Although, admittedly, there are still some foods I refuse to eat.
My mom didn’t think it was worth the effort to fight me on food and usually made specific options for me. She never forced me to eat anything I didn’t want to, which only augmented my food preferences. However, it did allow me to figure out my tastes on my own—which I’m grateful for.
For the record, I eat pizza now.
Tip #4: Don’t worry about what you can’t change.
I’ve always been a worry wart. Luckily, my mom is always there to calm me down—which has helped immensely with my mental health.
Whenever I call her complaining—or, more likely, crying—she says all the right things to make me less worried. How is it that moms usually know what to say in any given situation?
The older I get, the more I realize she’s right. Until you have all the information needed, you can’t worry about what’s not in your control. It’s hard, believe me. It takes a lot of practice to overcome being a worrier, but as long as you have someone to talk to, it’s easier to fret less.
Tip #5: Gargle with hot salt water for a sore throat.
This tip is a lifesaver. Whenever I have a sore throat I pour some salt in a glass, fill it up with hot water, and gargle. It’s disgusting, but it works.
It’s also the only piece of health advice she gave me that could be considered a home remedy. At least it’s a good one.
Tip #6: Keep your rings safe.
Not a health tip, but something important I’ll always remember.
Just a few weeks ago she said that as my pregnancy progresses my fingers may swell—and “pregnancy brain” (a real thing) gets worse. If that happens, I should take my wedding rings off and put them in a safe place.
She would know.
When she was pregnant with me, and flying from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, she took her rings off, wrapped them in a tissue and accidentally threw them away in an airport bathroom. They were never seen again.
Via my mom, lesson learned.
Taking Mom’s Advice
I hope that I can pass on the life lessons I’ve learned to my own child so they, too, can be healthy, happy, and comfortable with who they are.
To all the moms, and soon-to-be moms, out there, thank you for being amazing.