Food police. We all know at least one of them, so here’s where I tackle a passionate topic for a foodie.
Someone asked me last week, “Your family is always so healthy when my kids are always sick. How do you all avoid getting sick?”
That was a tough answer. I could have said SO many things. We don’t eat a lot of fried or fast food. We avoid preservatives, additives and dyes when possible. We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables, we barely eat red meat and we avoid GMO- and hormone-laden foods. We grow as much of our own produce as we can so we don’t ingest pesticides. We don’t use anti-bacterial soap, and we allow our immune systems to develop and do the job they were built to do. We only vaccinate selectively. We don’t use antibiotics for minor illnesses. We get exercise, both cardio and muscle strength-training. We try to maintain fairly regular sleep schedules. We also don’t go to the doctor’s office unless it’s absolutely necessary, so we aren’t picking up worse illnesses than we had when we went in, especially since so many doctor’s visits can be avoided by following the rest of the things we try to do.
It includes eating these.
Instead, I just told her that we try to maintain a healthy lifestyle, making educated choices about what we put on AND in our bodies on a regular basis, and make everything from scratch that we can, so we know exactly what we’re eating. In short, enjoy life: I’m not the food police. (Those cupcakes? Made from scratch.)
Then yesterday, someone asked me, “How do you not gain weight with all the cupcakes you bake?”
That was an easier answer: I don’t eat them, or if I do, I only have one.
I am responsible for my health. Not the fast food restaurants who are being forced to spend time and money listing what should be obvious – that fried and fast food is calorie-laden and not good for you. Not the government who is trying to tell you what size of drink or fries you can order. Not the school that is trying to provide only certain foods or tell a child their lunch isn’t acceptable. Not anyone butting into your business, other than a doctor. (Which I am not, so my opinion is solely my experience.)
To be clear, I think education is definitely a good thing, AND necessary. But in the end, if we can’t be responsible for what we put in our own mouth, where are we going? Instead, we need to rely on self-education. Responsibility. Moderation.
For me to stay healthy, we stick to our own personal family feelings, based on years of education and experience with what works for our own bodies. I don’t know what is best for someone else, but I do know that we have to watch our intake (amount and items), expend calories, and remain mindful throughout each day. BUT, we also aren’t obsessed with it. I don’t eat many cupcakes – my husband and kids are my testers, and even then, they only eat one when they give me feedback – but if I wanted to, I would have one. Buttercream frosting testing? Yes, please. That serving of fries from Wendy’s? Oh yes, sometimes you’ll see me in that drive-thru. I usually get a Diet Coke with it. Aren’t those things technically bad for me? Yes, an overabundance of oil and fries covered in salt is bad. Aspartame isn’t good for me. I do know these things, but if I choose to have them, that’s MY choice. No one else’s. I believe that as a nation, we have to make healthy food available, but we also can’t remove the choice from someone else. It’s my job to teach my children how to eat healthy foods, and to provide it for them. We teach them moderation – how to enjoy ONE cupcake, how to enjoy ONE serving of fast food fries now and then, ONE soda. You won’t hear us touting, “We don’t keep that in our home.” Instead, you’ll hear us teaching our kids that indulgence is okay now and then, as long as you’re aware of what you’re doing and remembering to respect what others do. Nutrition is indeed important, but nutrition also needs to be a healthy habit you can do daily, not something you can’t sustain. It needs to be realistic. Food is indeed meant to be enjoyed, and it’s okay when you do. We were given taste buds and teeth for a reason, so we need to use them. (Ask your dentist — teeth need to chew to be healthy and the sugar in some liquid options isn’t good for your enamel.)
For my family, I’m not the food police. We decided a long time ago that while we want to live long lives, that extra couple of years is not worth the deprivation and obsession of avoiding everything yummy. We believe that while there are those who do need to cut back on their sugar and avoid wheat completely (and obviously, food allergies and intolerances..which for me, is milk and red meat), sugar, wheat, milk, fruit..they are not the enemy. The enemy is lack of self-control, lack of willpower, and lack of self-responsibility for paying attention to how those things make you feel and how much you imbibe.
Imbibe…not just regarding alcohol…which is probably a lot worse for us than fruit and sugar, yet you don’t see sizes on it being regulated.
For the record, I’m also not a fan of public judging and chastising of whatever ANYONE puts on the checkstand belt in a grocery store. We teach by compassion, not humiliation or superiority. Kindness wins out every time, and sometimes that kindness is by learning when the appropriate time to speak up is..and that’s probably rarely to a stranger. Respect others’ decisions, sometimes that’s the most kind thing you can do.
So if you ask me how my family stays healthy or how we stay in a safe weight range, I’ll tell you, but what works for us is just that…what works for us. Not a science, not even an art, just a healthy, moderate, individualized lifestyle. Cupcakes AND eating healthy – totally do-able!
Now, I’m off to bake some cupcakes and get some chipotle-seasoned chickpeas baking. Enjoy your day!