Being A Health Food Nazi, Is it Worth It?

What would a baseball game be without a hot dog? Or Halloween without a piece of candy? Or a birthday without a piece of cake?!

In life, sometimes, we just need to relax and enjoy ourselves. And as parents, we should share and exhibit a healthy attitude towards and around food–allowing our children, on occasion, to partake in the joys of less-than-ideal foods. It’s part of life!

I mean, what was a favorite indulgence for you as a kid? For me, it was probably my Grammy’s banana pudding, with those little vanilla wafers in it. Or maybe some homemade pie around Thanksgiving.

Food is cultural, food is experiential, food is fun, food is a huge part of life!

My Philosophy

I believe in creating a healthy foundation, one that strengthens, nourishes and supports the body. When the body is properly energized, properly fueled MOST OF THE TIME, then I’m not worried about a little SUGAR or non-organic food here and there….and I don’t think you should be, either!

I may be a health nut, but I do like a margarita (or 3) on occasion 😉

You May Be Surprised, But I’m Not A Food Nazi

On my days off, you can find me fermenting vegetables, sprouting nuts, making broth, or even driving about 40 minutes across town (and back) to pick up locally raised animals/animal products from my favorite local farm.

But don’t let my commitment fool you into thinking I expect my child to eat a “perfect, properly prepared, nutrient-dense diet”, all of the time. That’s just not the case.

I am totally okay with my child indulging on occasion, and in fact, I plan on it.

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Enjoying a popsicle at the drive inn.
Enjoying a rootbeer float

Recently, I met two moms.

One was a very proud, self-professed “Sugar-Nazi”. She didn’t even celebrate her son’s birthday with any sort of sweet food…didn’t EVER allow sugar of any sort into her house.

The other was extremely hesitant to go to a local farm to buy products as they are technically not “organic”.

In my opinion, both of these mentalities are equally oppressive and detrimental to a child. We must have some sense of balance in our lives.

Consider this:

Your Child is An Individual

While it might be hard to believe, your child isn’t just an extension of you–but he or she is his or her VERY own unique, individual person.

Instead of attempting to control our children and micro-manage their every move…we just need to support them to make wise decisions on their own.

Think about it: someday your child will be in a situation where you are not there. It’ll be up to him or her to choose. If your child has been deprived or beat stupid with all of the things he/she “can or cannot have”–he/she might really look forward to the moments when he or she gets to indulge (creating the opposite of what you may be trying to achieve).

And then, someday, they’ll be out of your home and on their own…and you will have no say. In the end, you are mostly just an influence in their lives. Were you a positive one or a negative one?

Use your influence wisely.

Eh, Organic Isn’t Perfect

In my opinion, organic is a better option. However, it is not perfect. If you do a little snooping around in regards to organic labeling, you’ll find a few things:

  1. And I quote from the US Dept. of Agriculture, “‘Organic’ can be used to label any product that contains a minimum of 95 percent organic ingredients (excluding salt and water). Up to 5 percent of the ingredients may be non-organic agricultural products that are not commercially available as organic and/or non-agricultural products that are on the National List.1″ – USDA
  2. Organic Labeling Costs a Fortune–so while there are plenty of people who truly have organic products–they may not be able to afford the label. Ask questions, get to know your locals! I bet, if you look hard enough, there are some truly organic products at incredibly doable prices ;). Visit your local farmer’s market and ask.
  3. It is rare that any follow up visits are done by the government or third party organic-labeling agencies to ensure organic farming practices are indeed being enlisted. AT least, this is what I gleaned from reading, “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan or watching, “In Organic, We Trust“.

Local Guys Are Your Best Bet! So maybe the local farmer up the road can’t afford the organic designation from the government. It doesn’t mean they don’t feed their cows with grass, avoid antibiotics, etc. Just ask questions, listen to your gut, and use your eye balls :).

Is Sugar the Demon? I Don’t Think So.

With our Standard American Diet, most of us are having some severe blood sugar imbalances. Avoiding sugar won’t matter if you are still eating a ton of processed carbohydrates.

Those white foods have been stripped of all of their wonderful mineral properties. Your body sees and reacts to complex carbohydrates in the same way it does to sugar: by pumping out insulin.

Eat more healthful variations of sugar.   There are many not-as-harmful alternatives for sugar, such as raw honey (my favorite), pure maple syrup, and coconut sugar.

The wonderful thing about these forms of sugar is that they are all full of vitamins and minerals…unlike your “white sugar” varieties.

Steer clear of any and all artificial sweeteners. In my opinion, they’re the bad news bears! Most of them are made with chemicals that are TERRIBLE for your body, but besides that–it tricks your body into thinking it’s about to receive glucose (with it’s sweet taste). So the body releases some insulin to prepare for the glucose that it thinks it’s about to receive.

The glucose never comes (with low/zero calorie sweeteners), and the excess insulin begins to make you feel hungry. So you eat. This is called the cephalic response.

“The sweet taste of nonnutritive sweeteners has been reported to increase hunger and food intake through the mechanism of cephalic-phase insulin release (CPIR)”. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Mar;65(3):737-43.

C) Being Moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance! – Epicurus. Honestly, if it means a lot to you, you can find many recipes out there that are completely free of processed sugar and processed carbs…and it tastes just as amazing! Check out my blog on imitation “Reeses Hearts“, if you need a good example of how delicious these treats can be ;).

Allow the special occasions to be special.

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My labor of love for his 4th birthday :-D.

Focus on Healthy Habits and Balance

The truth is, we cannot live in a glass bubble. People try to tell me this all of the time.  But the people who say this to me misunderstand me.

Living in a glass bubble isn’t my philosophy.

My philosophy is having a super healthy foundation…rich in nutrients and I try to avoid exposure to toxic compounds (as much as I can).

With this solid foundation (giving the body what it needs to work optimally), a little ice cream or In-N-Out isn’t going to shake things up ;). It’s when the diet is only ice cream, In-N-Out that you need to worry!

So, parents, take a chill pill. Be human. Allow your children to be human. Set a good example, and enjoy the pleasures of life, moderately (don’t avoid them all together, for cryin’ out loud).

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

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