Monday, October 26, 2009

{Green & Clean}

We are so excited to have Joan with us today! Once upon a time she was our fun & fashionable college roommate. Lucky for us, we both now call her cousin-in-law (and she is still as fun & fashionable as ever)! Welcome, Joan!

I refuse to go into this without first saying, “Yes, I eat chips & chocolate AND no, I don’t think you are a ‘bad’ mother if you buy your kid a Happy Meal.”

In addition to those confessions, I don’t claim to be an expert on this particular subject. I am a mother of two young sons who is simply making a mindful effort to choose wisely in the food department, and educate my children on how to make careful food choices as well. Now that my skeletons are out of the closet, let’s talk about eating:

{ Green & Clean }

In other words, eat fresh, straight from the ground food, and avoid processed food when possible. Not only are whole foods rich in color, texture, and taste, they are filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. All these things aid in a healthy immune system, digestive health, and energy. Our diets should consist mostly of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables (although, I’m aware that opinions vary on this particular subject & no I’m not a vegetarian). The sad and unfortunate truth is that in most American homes this is not the case.

Every Mother would love to feed their children only whole foods, untainted by preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils but it is often inconvenient! We find ourselves choosing quick foods devoid of nutrients, preservative packed, high in damaged fat and sugar because we are busy people and our lives are cluttered with appointments, classes, work, housekeeping, sporting events, and a variety of other activities.

As an active & involved Mother myself my advice is to start small. Make one or two dietary changes and add to those after you feel comfortable. Don't overwhelm yourself. Just take one step at a time.

I started my first change in August: Do not purchase food that contains high fructose corn syrup (although sugar of any kind should be moderated) or hydrogenated oil (this one can be tough b/c both ingredients are in practically every packaged good in regular grocery stores—minus stores like Trader Joes, AJ’s, Sunflower Market, Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc). I have read up on these two evils and found that they are used purely for preservation. Extended shelf life = More money to the food companies that prepare and package all those convenience foods. Neither ingredient has any nutritional value and many, many studies have shown they are harmful to the body. My second change came in September: Bake whole wheat bread weekly and try to only buy whole wheat pasta and brown rice rather than white flour products. The third & fourth came this month: Always have fruit in the house (when my kids want a snack—I offer them fruit) AND use fresh Spinach whenever possible—you can tear it up into tiny pieces in pasta, rice, soups, or sauces and hardly notice it is there. I even add it to my children’s cheese quesadillas or sandwiches. It is a simple way to add dark, leafy greens to our diets.

I have noticed with these small changes that the children do less snacking and more eating during meal times. Over-eating is not as great a temptation (for me) when you are eating brown rice and vegetables for dinner. Not that our meals are flavorless and unexciting…it’s just that when we eat fresh, whole foods we tend to eat in moderation. I am more motivated to exercise when I eat well, my mood is better, my children are happier & less inclined to get sick, I have more energy…the list goes on and on and on. Each positive change breeds more good change and the cycle continues.

Remember, my health modifications may not be suitable or appropriate for you or your family. Find what works for you, where your priorities are, and go from there.

My goal with this post was to motivate healthy dietary changes in your home; not to overwhelm—but to engage your minds, inspire you to change, and ultimately elevate your quality of life.

Best wishes to you, friends, for a happier, healthier life!


Rachael said...

We cut out high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils a year and a half ago, and I am so much happier with our daily diet! We're essentially vegetarian without really trying; my kids love fruits & veggies so much that when we do have meat on occasion they're always suspicious and ask, "What IS this?"

One thing I wanted to throw out there--my kids' favorite dinner these days is freshly-baked whole-wheat bread with homemade jam, a wide variety of fruits and veggies, and some good cheese. Incredibly simple, but so filling and yummy. We have this for dinner about once a week, and it's a night that the kids love and I look forward to because it's so easy to prepare!

sara said...

Great ideas Joan!

Joan said...

Thanks, Sara :)

Bloom said...

I have tried putting spinach in quesadillas, etc. before. And when I read this post, I thought, "Why am I not doing that every single time?!" It's just a matter of making things a habit. Thank you for re-inspiring me!

I am so imperfect where nutrition is concerned. I know my kids eat way too much sugar. I really work to make sure they are getting whole grains and fruit, but I know they need more veggies. I've been inspired to work harder at it lately because I know our bodies need these things to help us fight off all the nasty swine flu et al going around.

One last thought: I love having a garden (even though it's small) because I feel like that process has made Blaine all the more excited about good foods. He LOVES picking carrots, getting on a chair to wash them, and chomping them up. He also loves picking and eating beets, which definitely surprised me! Anyway, I think being highly involved in that whole process has helped him be more excited about vegetables.

Thanks, Joan, for all these good ideas. I am rejuvenated and re-inspired to do better on the diet front!


Lindsay said...

I was feeling so inspired until I scrolled down to the bottom and saw the candy apples from yesterday's post! Kidding. Thanks or the encouragement and ideas.

Joan said... made me laugh :)
I think a caramel apple is a great, guilt free treat during the fall. A little caramel & chocolate and a lot of yummy green, crisp apple to balance it out.

Anne...I hear ya on making things a habit. Every time I put "salad" (as James calls it) in his quesadilla he whines for a bit but inevitably eats it and eventually (fingers crossed) he will enjoy it.

lori said...

What a fun, helpful post! Thanks Joan!

Abbie said...

My sons was a great eater until he hit two. Ugh! What is it with that age? Anyway, he has a million food allergies (this is why I've research a ton about foods we put in our bodies) and I was super concerned about the fact that he wasn't eating broccoli and spinach (amongst other things) anymore, so I talked to a dietician and she said this was totally normal for two to five year-olds: the most important is that there's no control at the dinner table (that's huge, right? no control!) and that he should get enough milk (big check!) and whole grains (check). She also said that when he came out of the picky-eating phase that he's going to eat like we eat, so it's sooo important for parents to eat well.

Anyway, that's my roundabout way of saying I like your post a lot.

Oh! And it seems Target and Walmart are catching on. They're starting to carry the TJ & WF HFCS-free and hryo oil-free foods for less dough. Now THAT is progress I like. Affordable whole foods for all!

Joan said...

Lori--glad you enjoyed it :)

Abbie--oh how I understand your situation! Getting my kids to eat, let alone eat well, is a daily battle. Dinner time often ends up with me on the couch, with my eyes closed, attempting to find my "happy place" and my husband finishing up..."Just two more bites. No, James. Stay in your chair. One more bite, buddy. Okay, chew it up. James, get back in your chair. Good job. Finish this last bite."
PHEW! I'm exhausted thinking about it! :)
Does this sound familiar? haha.

by Kimberlee St. Clair said...

I agree completely on all accounts. Anyone interested, read about a new documentary called "inGREEDients". All about food containing the same yucky ingredients and the side affects and dangers. Thanks Joan, for supporting wellness!