Gluten-free, diary-free, vegetarian, low calorie, sugar-free, non fat, vegan. The list goes on and on. Now, I am NOT saying that there are not medical or personal reasons that people may follow some of these diets. I am very fortunate that I do not have to cook/eat for any food allergies or diet restrictions. Having said that there are a lot of people that chose to count calories or avoid fat to maintain or lose weight. I believe in FOOD.
I believe in REAL food. The way the food looks when it's picked by the farmer straight from the ground. The food that are not GMOs or have pesticides. The meat that is grass-fed, eating what it was meant to. The chickens that weren't injected with antibiotics and allowed to range free in the sunshine. I eat what I want, but I truly try to eat as fresh and as natural as possible.
Does this make me obnoxious? In this day and age it really does...and I know that. Our world has become all about convenience and packaging and everyone is always on a "diet." It is truly hard to eat clean nowadays. Those that do, stick out like a sore thumb. We try our hardest to raise our children with the same eating habits. We got a lot of 'eye rolls' and 'scoffs' for a long time which bothered us at first. We stuck with it and it either doesn't bother us as much or we just got used to it!
The general rule in our house is "If you can't read one of the ingredients on the back of the package, then we don't eat it." Is that always the case? Of course not! We're human too and like I said earlier, it's nearly impossible. BUT, we really do try! Flavors should come from herbs and spices...not Ranch seasoning packets and bottled Italian dressing.
It drives my CRAZY when I pass a product in the store that says "Only 100 calories. Now sugar-free." So...what is in it instead of sugar? Have you read the ingredients on the box? The packaging is marketing to appear as though its healthy, when really...it might only be 100 calories but 100 calories of what?
Please in no way think I am putting down people who may eat this way. I AM NOT! We are all moms just trying to get through the day and I GET IT! I have shoved a bowl of Cheerios in my daughters face just to entertain her long enough so I could go to the bathroom. Moms work during the days, moms are busy and not only can it be super expensive to eat this way but it is HARD.
Like I said, I don't count calories. Am I a size 6? Absolutely NOT! Could I lose a few pounds? Probably. I am the person who orders an appetizer, an entree AND ALWAYS dessert when we go out to eat. I spend my Friday nights getting down with a pile of chicken wings and an IPA beer (or three!). Do my kids eat birthday cake and ice cream at birthday parties? Of course! We are all human and it's all about balance.
So here are a few tips from one mom to another to help if you wish to make some small changes in your kitchen:
- Avoid the middle of the grocery store! The best foods are in the outside sections of the store...produce, meat, dairy. Try to avoid the processed foods like cookies, crackers and cereal when possible.
- Include your kids in the kitchen. The more involved they feel the more they take ownership of the food that was made and actually want to eat it!
- Snacks for toddlers...what a nightmare! I know that toddlers are the pickiest eaters of them all! We eat a lot of fresh fruit, cheese, hummus, greek yogurt and cottage cheese for snacks. The younger they are when you introduce them to it the easier it is because they are used to it.
- Do you work Monday through Friday? I've been there and it is so hard to prepare a nutritious meal for your family after working all day and not getting home until 6pm at night. Try to plan ahead. On Sundays I would make salad dressings/vinaigrettes for the week, roast a chicken to use for lunches during the week, etc. I will prep for dinner after cleaning up from dinner the night before...chopping and dicing vegetables so they are ready to go for the next day. It can be a pain at first but once you get into the routine it's easy breezy!
- If kids see you making healthy eating choices they are most likely to follow your example.
- If there is an option, try to buy non-GMO (I could write another 10 page post about GMO's but I'll spare you!)
- Organic is great, but it doesn't always have to be organic. Fruits and vegetables with a thick skin (like bananas, avocados and oranges) do not need to be organic. Their thick skin helps toprotect the produce from the pesticides.
- Water always...not juice or soda!
Tonight was pizza night! What kid doesn't like pizza? I made the pizza dough using whole wheat flour. Then I chopped up an assortment of veggies and let Avery (my 2 year old) assemble her own pizza. This is fun for everyone, nutritious, and includes my daughter in the kitchen. You can prepare the dough and the veggies ahead of time...making this a dinner you could have on the table in less than 30 minutes!
Again, I don't write this post to be one of those obnoxious "organic moms" that we all know and hate. I only write to help spread awareness and show that it IS possible while working full-time and with kids with a little bit of planning
NOTE: One of my favorite documentaries that I highly recommend if you have the chance or want to make a few changes in your kitchen is "In defense of food."