making healthy eating work for a family of seven
About eight years ago, I started changing our family's eating habits. My first goal was to try to eat closer to how my great grandmother would have eaten when she was growing up. We started to remove the processed foods from our diet and replaced the menu with whole foods and recipes from scratch. The next step was to begin to buy local and organic. We started with just the foods that we ate all the time and worked towards replacing our entire diet. As we became more aware of what we were eating, we started to notice some other patterns. Certain foods would cause the children to have a more difficult time focusing and they would struggle to make good choices. The first things to go were food coloring and high fructose corn syrup. There were other foods that when we didn't have them in our diets we all felt better and when we put them back in we started having health issues. Gluten and Dairy were at the top of this list. Our family started working with a functional medicine doctor in January and with her support and encouragement, my husband and I completely eliminated all forms of sugar from our diet for a couple of weeks. It was truly eye opening to become aware of how often we ate things like fruit or even gluten free grains. We have added back in limited fruits but continue to aim to be grain free and sugar free.
**** So important to note. I said we started this EIGHT years ago. I have friends that see how we eat and think that it is too overwhelming to make that many changes. This was a slow process for us. Some people are awesome at just going all the way right out of the gate and if that describes you then go for it. One thing that really helped me with each change was to have a plan. If you decide to go gluten free. First thing you need to do is find recipes and go shopping and figure out what you are going to eat. Otherwise you will end up on the floor sobbing into the phone to your husband at work because you are starving. I may or may not know from personal experience.
We have five kids. I refuse to be a short-order cook. I want my children to be educated about food...where it comes from and what the ingredients actually do in their body and why all of that is important. I want them to feel empowered and not fear food. It is a delicate dance. We are fortunate to live in an area where many people are trying to fight against the current of American food culture. However many times our food choices are very different from our friends. Because we don't have any real allergies, it is not life threatening if my child eats a piece of cake at a birthday party. For my younger children, I do help them with portion control when we are at events. My older kids have more freedom. And they are learning what happens when they make good choices and when they make bad food choices. I love seeing them make the connections of how foods make their bodies feel and what it does for the appearance of their skin. And they also have the peer pressure from each other because when you fill your tummy with junk what comes out the other end does not smell very good to a minivan stuffed full with your siblings.
I have people asking me all the time about what foods we buy and recipes we make. I have a couple rules about a recipe, it must:
1. Be Easy
2. Feeds lots of people
3. Not contain any random expensive ingredients
4. Taste super yummy
If you look under the recipe tab here on my blog, you will find some foods that our crew loves and I hope to regularly add more. One of the things people ask me most about is what do you eat when you need a snack or to just grab something and go... especially for kids. All of these are organic, Non-GMO
Corn Tortilla chips
Fresh or dried fruit
Veggies pre cut or things you can grab like carrots, cherry tomato
Nut butter spoons (literally a spoon full of almond butter)
Avocados (these are a lifeline)
Hard boiled eggs
Every small change makes big differences for you family. You can do it! And don't forget to drink more water!!