Sunday, October 07, 2007

My Food Beliefs.... a challenge!

Warning: Epic Novel of a Posts.... may appear as a rant or possibly cheap therapy. Rarely, do I lay things all out. It’s come up on several occasions, and Mr. Man keeps reminding me, I’m doing the same thing that my parents did to me, that I swore I’d never do. My kids are feeling the wrath of my food beliefs. One of the teachers at Nathan’s school said “Oh, I totally steered Nathan away from juice the room mom brought in today for the party…” *then she whispers* “it was Hawaiian Punch.” She gives me a look, waiting for me to hug her and tell her “THANK YOU for saving my child from the evil Hawaiian Punch!”.

Look, let’s just clear this all up, and tell it like it is. We all know that I come off a little “zealous” (aka high strung). It’s a label I hate, tried to fight, but most people realize that I am trying to be easygoing. I am not easygoing, but it’s obvious I’m trying my hardest to push myself to be.

That being said, I have strong beliefs related to food. It is the culmination of 30 years of experience that has brought me to a lifestyle I have come to embrace. It’s almost a security blanket, because you can control the food you prepare and provide for your family. You can’t control a tandem tantrum when you’re lunching with your friends hoping for an adult conversation. You can control what they are eating at home, on your watch.

I’ve been reading several foodie blogs of people that I admire. One of them blogged about “Why do I eat like this?” and it was fascinating. It caused me to stop and think, Why do I believe this? Why do I eat like this? So, I thought I’d journal this, so when Nathan and AK are in therapy and blaming the fruit leather and the freaky lunches that led them to a life of being social outcasts, they will know why I did this. And I challenge you to do the same? Why do you eat the way you do?

Starting from the beginning, my parents were constantly trying every health fad since I can remember. They would hear of a new diet, health food product, and everything was going to change for the better for my family. They were going to be healed from whatever was ailing them, and life would improve. Being underage, I often was forced to go along with it. I had PB&J that was two rice cakes, all natural peanut butter, and some freaky jam full of seeds in my lunch at school. NO ONE wanted to trade with me. I eyed everyone’s Twinkies and fruit roll ups with ENVY. I would gnaw on my tough and chewy fruit leather that would pull out any loose teeth if you weren’t careful chewing, and just drool for the sugary high of a ding dong. The health food diet would come to end, and my parents would decide it wasn’t working. (Mom, Dad, I know you were trying to make things better, but to be fair do I need to remind you of the K-12 aka PURE CAFFIENE and the Kombucha Mushroom Tea, oh and the Candidas diet that robbed me of birthday cakes? I forgive you, let’s move on, tell it like it is, it’s all good.) Anyway, all these health fads made me very leery of health food “products”. They brought hope and disappointment to my family repeatedly.

Then, working at the Big 4, I had several vitamin clients. Looking through their files, their practices, and seeing just who was profiting from the vitamin sales made me realize there is a LOT of corruption in vitamins. I also had a few food clients, and having to do an inventory and seeing the amount of chemicals put into the food made me even more leery. However, being deprived of HoHo’s and Twinkies throughout my whole childhood makes me totally binge on Junk!

So fast forward to Nathan’s arrival, he starts eating solids, and I’m sitting next to his high chair and suddenly in my head I hear a good family friend’s voice. When responding to some mockery of her homemade wheat bread, she said “I feed them good healthy food, because I love them, and I want them to be around forever.” *dude, did you hear the light bulb just click over my head as I look at this sweet small baby anxious to gobble up smushed peas?*

I set off determined to feed my kids better than I feed myself. Then two major events happen. We switched to Organic Milk, because I was wary of the hormones and antibiotics given to the cows. Physically, a few weeks later I started to feel different. Blood tests confirmed that my body was in fact different. The doctors concluded it must be because I wasn’t receiving hormones from milk anymore that was causing changes. My body readjusted after several months, but I don’t want to be dependent on some synthetic cow hormone, that just seems weird. Very Unnatural.

Fast forward to a year later, I open my eyes to find myself on the floor of the kitchen with AK crawling around my legs. I only remember that I bent over to pull something out of a cabinet, next thing you know I’m lying on the floor. I’d blacked out. Terrified, I went to the doctor, more tests, my blood sugar levels are funny. Lots of tests later, my body appears to have a sensitivity to High Fructose Corn Syrup. I start reading labels, it is in EVERYTHING. It was in a box of pasta, it’s in bread, it’s in EVERYTHING sold at the Chain Grocery Stores. Why is there some super over processed sugar type chemical in EVERYTHING? (Oh, I have theories, believe me… ) However, it is in NOTHING sold by Trader Joes…. Hooray!

Also, I believe and well hope, that if my children are growing up eating healthy foods, the healthy habits will continue their lifetime. I’m trying not to be so over the top about it. Personally, I love to indulge in sugary snacks, chocolate, and ice cream. Afterall, I have an entire deprived childhood of sugary snacks to catch up on. And to keep things fair for the kids, all rules are off when we are out to eat, at parties, or friend’s houses. It seems to be working; Nathan will eat half a cupcake and be done. A few spoonfuls of ice cream and he’ll push it away. AK, well… she’s still young on her food journey. I’m just stoked when she eats.

And finally, I believe our bodies are sacred and a gift. They were not made to be a vessel to digest chemicals.

My other belief, is that something is wrong with our society’s approach to our bodies. Why do we have so many funky health issues? It can’t be just me, but several people I know have weird health issues, or with their kids. One instance is Nathan’s Pulmonary Doc showed me a graph showing a steep increase in asthma over the years.

Do I feel better? Absolutely. Will I shun your non Trader Joes or non Whole Foods yummy entrée… no way! Will I still be sneaking my kids Halloween Candy? Absolutely. Will I hug you for saving my kid from *whispers* Hawaiian Punch? Sure.. but probably more because no one should get turned down from a hug. Let the kids have sugary juice, after all… life is short for a little indulgence.

Alright… so challenge people.. What are your food beliefs? If you don’t have strong convictions about food, what is your “hot button” issue?

By the way, this lasagna was yummy. Made this with a salad, 15 minutes and it was done. Way faster than takeout!


CarrieB said...

Bravo!! Er, um...Brava!!!

HFCS is next on my hit list. I think it is out of almost everything in our home (we purged four huge boxes when we went GF four months ago....I was so sad to see full bottles of soy sauce and taco seasoning to away).

Today I am presenting the concept of Laptop Lunchboxes to our PTA. I'm using several visuals, like a fully packed traditional lunchbox to demonstrate packaging waste. I asked my DH to pick up a Lunchable at the store yesterday for my demo and he shot me an incredulous "WHAT??? FOR WHAT!!???" I'm going to hijack my kids' Laptops for the day and pack something really cute and colorful and use the old compare and contrast method to sell the PTA girls on selling the Laptop Lunchbox Systems as a fundraiser. The Obento company will donate $8 per system back to our school. Very cool.

Loved your post. I have to believe eating whole and real and eliminating additives and chemicals will get easier for us. It has to. Thank you so much for the challenge!

Carly said...

Well, Wendy- I think you already know I feel somewhat the same. However, my recent venture (which has been a wonderful one- VERY hard but wonderful) is a raw diet. I choose it for health reasons of course- but Craig is on board when he is at home and E is getting in as much as I can do. However, come lunches at school- we shall see! I am calling this week! Love you, Carly

laura said...

love this post, wendy. i am doing what i can to do the best i can. ITA on the HFCS. it's unbelievable how that crap is in EVERYTHING!!!! but yay for trader joe's!

my kids are picky, so it is a challenge. but we're doing the best we can, right? ;)

we got that lasagna too - YUM!


Anna said...

Well, you know how I feel about all that. Those additives were almost the death of me...

And check and check on the "high strung" and "strong beliefs" here too.

When can I look forward to the survivalist/be prepared post? I love coming to your blog. You make me feel normal ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy,

It's Mom here. Yes, we did set the foundation for your
"extremist" natural food
mantra. Yes, we probably overdid it with no sugar jello "birthday cakes."
I do apologize for that.

Now you are a big girl and realizing that Mom was right afterall. Well sort of right.


jai said...

Fyi, I just switched to organic milk. Too early to notice any changes yet.

And I *heart* Trader Joe's...but, sadly, the nearest store is in Las Vegas. I don't heart TJ's enough to do my grocery shopping 420 miles away from my kitchen.