This is a tale of how striving too hard for healthy eating caused one family a ton of stress, weight gain and was anything but healthy.
“We HAVE to eat better!” I exclaimed. After a night of binge watching Food Inc., Forks Over Knives, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and any other Netflix documentary about healthy food, I knew we had to make some changes. We were eating a SAD (standard American diet), and our kids basically sustained themselves on the standard kid faire. I bought organic when I could, which was rare. We cooked at home most nights, but it was a lot of processed/pre-packaged food. I would eat Smart-One’s for lunch and have no qualms about weekly (or more) canned tuna sandwiches on Bunny bread.
Once I began paying attention to where our food was coming from, just how many artificial ingredients are out there and actually reading labels, I was horrified.
How could we change our habits?
The most logical explanation was to just change everything, all at once. Because that always works out. We bought a juicer. I scoured pinterest for Paleo recipes. I began following “Whole 30” bloggers. And everything worked out great. We now eat only organic, grass fed, made from scratch food. My kids agree to eat whatever we serve them, and this huge lifestyle change didn’t affect our budget one bit. Oh, wait. No. That’s not it. That is how I hoped it would go.
I was spending more money on food than when we were eating out regularly.
I would spend far too much time cooking, only to have NONE of us want to eat the meal. We ended up at the drive-thru more times during this attempt to overhaul our eating than ever before.
I would get frustrated with my kids for not wanting to eat this healthy food…even though they already ate a wide variety of fruits (and even a few vegetables!)
I refused to buy non-organic apples. They are on the dirty dozen, y’all. But then, I would end up with chips, cheez-its or something similar just so they had a snack. I’m no expert, but I’m going to venture a guess that conventionally grown apples are better for you than fried (non-organic) potatoes.
We would buy all this fresh food, have a crappy week where we didn’t have time to cook, and have to throw out rotten spinach. The “whole food” is no good to me if I don’t have time to prepare it. Again, take-out or drive-thru it was.
The whole experience was frustrating. I constantly felt defeated, and I couldn’t enjoy even small victories because they weren’t enough. Let me be clear, this is my issue, unique to my family and our circumstances. You might be able to rock this kind of lifestyle, and if that’s the case, rock on. Right now, with three kids under 6, a full time working husband, part time working wife, little to no help and a limited budget, we just can’t eat like this. It’s part of a larger problem that I do not have the energy to get into, but suffice it to say, a true “Whole food, organic, plant based diet” is not an option for this family. No. It isn’t. Not if we want to keep the electricity on.
What we’re doing now:
Now, I am a conscious but sensible shopper. I am aware of the type of foods I would like to feed my family, but I am taking it one step at a time, making adjustments when needed. I prefer to buy milk from grass fed cows, but I will settle for milk from cows not treated with growth hormones. I prefer organic apples, but if they aren’t available, we opt for conventionally grown. I look for the “non-gmo verified” label on our cereals and granola bars, but I am aware that we cannot always avoid it, not at this time.
Every day, I am doing what I can to keep my family healthy, without losing my mind or breaking the bank. And for me, that is enough.