Food For Thought
If you have been following me on Twitter and Facebook lately, you will have noticed my binge on Netflix documentaries about food. With 3 sick days between me and Ollie, I overloaded on them and with that, took a lot away to think about. I could write for days about my rants and raves but I am trying to be reasonable here and take it with a grain of salt. I know documentaries can be bias but they also can just make you realize some common sense things. I mean no one can argue “eating fruits and vegetables is a TERRIBLE idea”.That is the crazy thing about all this. We are all highly intelligent beings and know what food is terrible for us…yet we keep doing it. We are addicted because it is all engineered to make us come back for more. You have to hand it to scientists, they are doing their jobs pretty well. We CRAVE junk. We build culture and tradition around food. It is a part of who we are. See? I could harp about THEM for days but that isn’t going to help anything change so I am trying to step back and take away a few main things to move forward.
First off, here are the films/talks I watched (all on Netflix streaming).
Food Inc. (I actually watched this one a long time ago)
Forks Over Knives: The Engine 2 Diet
Jamie Oliver’s TED Talk – watch here on youtube
Ann Cooper’s TED Talk – watch here on youtube
Kinda related but more just interesting: Biography on the Kellogg Brothers.
Step 1: Stop Bitching About How Much Food Costs
Films behind it: All of em but definitely Food Inc and Vegucated.
Every time I have tried to go all hippy and natural, I start getting gun shy because of how much food costs. We all call Whole Foods “Whole Paycheck” for a reason. Organic, natural food ain’t cheap. And while it’s unfortunate that this is the norm, I need to stop letting this dissuade me. My family makes more than enough money. We aren’t living paycheck to paycheck and I can easily drop $75 at Target on NOTHING. I need to stop whining about $3 organic pears. I need to feed my family the healthiest stuff I can. In the long run, I am saving them from more doctor’s visits ($), prescriptions ($$) and bigger pants ($$$).
I also need to think of it in trade offs. If I buy the organic spinach, I don’t buy a case of soda. Win Win. Also eating less meat (see below) will cost less.
Step 2: Less Animal Stuff
Films behind it: Forks Over Knives, Food Inc. and Vegucated.
I’m not going vegan….or vegetarian for that matter but I want to cut back. As for meat, we don’t NEED it like most people think. To stand up for my vegetarian friend Jen, she is one of the most fit and healthiest people I know with 2 veggie kids who eat more variety than any other kids I have met. They are healthy, active boys. They don’t NEED meat for protein. That is clear. But if people aren’t open to other proteins and healthy fats, they might be a hard one to change. But I took away that people can be healthy and just fine on plant based proteins if they eat the variety of foods nature gives us.
This also isn’t an animal rights thing even though these movies were kind of graphic in that regard. My decision is based on hormones and GMOs. We weren’t made to ingest these chemicals…no matter what any other study has said otherwise. I plan to buy as much local farm raised meat as possible. That, along with eating a spectrum of organic healthy fruits and vegetables, is never a bad thing and we need to do more.
Next up, dairy. I already knew dairy was hard on your digestive system. I mean this is the most common protein to upset an infant’s stomach…gotta mean something right? Also the data in some of the movies seemed pretty damning of dairy. Fortunately, I was already ahead of the game here. I went almost completely dairy free for 6 months with Ollie. The trace amounts I had were either in baked goods or bits of cheese that I didn’t sort out of premade salads. I switched to almond milk and coconut milk ice cream for a treat. And you know what? It wasn’t too bad. It sucked at first trying to not have lattes (I avoided soy for a bit too) and it seemed like cheese was EVERYWHERE. Now? I don’t really want it. I got a kid’s size Goodberry’s to taste the other night. I had 3 bites and I couldn’t tolerate it. I didn’t get sick, just did nothing for me. My downfall has been mostly soft cheeses. I love blue, feta and goat cheese. So I am going to keep it up. Along with this, I am going to rotate different types of milk with Landon. He doesn’t seem to be attached to cow’s milk so I might as well keep him accustomed to different things. I am not damning dairy but I just want to take away our dependence on it as much.
With all that, our family goal is to have 2 vegetarian meals a week. Not crazy…doable. I also plan to eat mostly only vegetarian lunches. Lunches are pretty easy since work has awesome salad bars and veggie options. Even vegan! So a step in the right direction for our health. I’ll take it.
Step 3: Teach My Boys More About Food
Films behind it: Hungry for Change and the TED talks
All these things that I want to do (and can do) with my family is just 1 step. Childhood obesity makes my stomach churn. 4 year olds have their cholesterol tested now. THAT IS RIDICULOUS! But sadly it isn’t and that is depressing. Kids have no idea where food comes from. School doesn’t teach it. School lunch is fucking terrible…and not the terrible like “ew it tastes gross” but “ew it tastes great because it is full of shit engineered for just that”. Sugar in the milk. Grease in the food. It sickens me. And while yes, I can vow to pack their lunches until college, my boys are just 2 in a world of “underfed” kids. I am here to monitor this. What about the huge number of kids on free and reduced school lunch? The kids who can’t find a fresh vegetable in their neighborhood market so dinner is Doritos and mountain dew. Then my coworker told me a story of working at a medical facility in college where oral surgeons had to remove CHILDREN’S TEETH because their parents had given them soda in baby bottles. AHHHHHHHHHH. Where is their advocate?
So my plan is to make sure my boys know about food. I know there will be battles and control issues but I will present them with education and healthy food and hope it sticks. I have already started by taking Landon grocery shopping more. We talk about all the produce and talk about healthy foods (daycare already did this with them SCORE). He knows candy and sweets are “treats”. He RARELY has fast food and really only likes fries. He was excited at Whole Foods to get dinosaur leaves (kale), kiwis, black beans and even picked plums for Ollie. We then got some grass-fed hippy ground beef which he deemed “worms” and was all the rage.
This also all comes at a good time because making all of Ollie’s food keeps fresh fruits and veggies around the house. As with Landon, I am trying to introduce as many foods as I can. Yeah, we will hit the inevitable control battles later but I have to do what I do for now. Make sure he gets nutrients from all kinds of plants and legumes. He really is a healthy little baby.
Educate my kids is all I can do right now. Once they are in real school, I can be a Rosie the Riveter of the cafeteria. For now, this is what I have.
Step 4: OD on Veggies
Films behind it: All of them but mostly Forks Over Knives and Sick Fat and Nearly Dead
We need to just overload on fruits and veggies. At dinner, they should be half or more of the plate (note the kids always are anyway…WIN). More salads. More smoothies. More nutrient rich juice. I kind of want a juicer but I don’t want it taking up so much space. For now, I am buying giants liters of Naked Green Machine from BJs and hoping that helps. We are also going to look into the local coop again. The farmer’s markets will be weekend trips soon (the ones close to use start up in the spring). Make ourselves healthier through nature.
Step 5: Less Sugar/Processed Foods
Doing my 2 month stint gluten free opened my eyes to this. I couldn’t eat A LOT of processed foods. No granola bar in a hurry in the AM. No pasta. No quick sandwiches. It was tough but I learned a lot. Once again, I learned to try new things. Alternate grains. Different pasta types (quinoa, rice). I believe this is why people are jumping on gluten free as a “diet”. You are cutting out so much junk just to follow that rule. I don’t think people all have forms of celiac’s disease…they just know they start feeling better .My theory is they are actually eating what their body WANTS and not just processed shit. So my plan is to think in more whole food terms. There will still be some processed stuff. I’m human and I have children but I am finding I am leaning away from the Nutrigrain bar for a snack and more to the banana or corn tortilla chips and salsa. I think just little changes like that will help rid my body of so many ingredients that I can’t read.
I am also getting away from as much added sugar wherever I can. This includes the corn syrup in EVERYTHING. I can’t say I will be great at it but I will give it my best effort. I am already shying away from sodas and using Stevia in the Raw in my coffee. Baby steps.
So overall, I have always felt I have had a pretty good immune system and I attribute it to a nutrient rich diet. I want to keep off daily medications for as long as I can. I think diet and fitness is a way to better yourself from the inside out. I want to keep my family as healthy as I can and give them the tools to make good choices in the future and maybe educate someone else. Call me a hippy, whatever. I’m doing what I can.
What are your thoughts on the “food/obesity” epidemic in the US?
22 thoughts on “Food For Thought”
So… I was a vegetarian for 10 years before I got pregnant, because of all of this. Had some pretty awesome experiences like getting to hear Eric Schlosser and Ralph Nader speak in Chicago when Fast Food Nation came out in paperback. Introducing meat to my diet post-partum and the kids’ diet was something we discussed a lot, and we spend a lot of money on our groceries because if we don’t do it, who will?
To address your school lunch thing…. after eating lunch with the boys many times, school lunches are not the worst. It is the crap people pack for their kids. My boys come home all the time asking why we won’t pack desserts for them for snacks, why other kids get to eat junk food. It’s crazy town.
Seriously Fridays are turkey hot dogs on whole wheat buns and baked sweet potato fries. So so so much better than the lunchables, doritos, and dessert I see many kids come to school with. And these are little kids, so of course they eat the doritos and dessert and dump the rest. And you know… we go to an affluent school. Wake County is trying, and their menu is a lot healthier this year than last year.
(Not judging the lunchables because as you know, I let the boys have them at the pool when Jon travels. Because they are swimming for two hours and the lunchables are just a snack to tide them over until they eat another meal at home. It’s all about balance.)
Yes…I think Wake county is always going to be a little above the rest. I can imagine the packed lunches are insane. A quote from one of the movies that stuck with me was “Americans fear inconvenience”. It is so true.
P.S. I saw a lunchable in the work fridge and just started laughing. REALLY!?!!
Great post, thanks for putting it all out there. Food and nutrition is a fascinating subject, and I also want to do better for my family!! I gave up my daily diet soda exactly one year ago; I was able to lose 5 lbs after that. I realized it wasn’t doing anything for me except making me bloated, gross. Occasionally I will treat myself to a real coke and I think that is okay once in a while. I also used to do artificial sweetener & sometimes powder Coffeemate in my coffee, quit that as well. Now I use a touch of real sugar & milk, or drink it black.
Hungry for Change goes into the science behind diet sodas and how they are clinically addictive. It makes you hungrier…therefore diet drinkers actually GAIN weight thinking it is saving calories. Insanity. Smart ass people. Why can’t they cure cancer?
Bravo fellow hippie friend! Veg out 🙂
TEACH ME YOUR HIPPIE WAYS
Dairy is weird. It’s strange to me that we drink the breast milk of another species. We get calcium from vegetables, meat, and even almonds, so I don’t find it quite as necessary as I used to. Plus it makes me break out like whoa.
The shit that’s added to our food-like products is fucking insane. I will GLADLY pay $6 a pound for beef that is from a happy cow instead of $2.99 a pound for factory-farmed beef. It’s just icky.
It was really interesting in some of those films listening to all the people saying milk gives you the most calcium…when in fact you can get more from plenty of other sources. Same thing with NEEDING meat for protein. Ridiculous.
One of my best friends has been gluten-free for about a year, and her life has changed. She no longer needs cholesterol or blood pressure medicine because both levels have dropped so significantly. The headaches after every meal have stopped. And, of course, her belly just feels better. Her experience — and reading posts like yours — inspire me to try harder to make my family’s diet “cleaner.” It’s like you said — the simple act of cutting out processed foods and increasing the amount of whole foods we eat (especially fruits and veggies) can make a world of difference. It’s tough as a mom, though, because so many convenience foods are loaded with crap. But, then again, an apple could be considered convenience food, right? Just need to re-train my brain. Thanks for the nudge.
Gluten free stories fascinate me. It personally did nothing for me besides problem make me just eat healthier. Nothing changed in me but I have seen/heard so many miracle stories. My dad’s best friend was diagnosed with celiac’s maybe 15 years ago (before it was cool) and it solved LIFE LONG issues they didn’t expect. Sinus issues, stomach issues. Crazy.
I am nowhere near perfect but I know I feel better if I eat better. If I cave and have Bojangles for dinner, I usually feel like shit halfway through.
Well said. Very well said.
NOW TEACH ME HOW TO COOK ALL THE THINGS!
We are one, Yoda.
Love this! For several months now I’ve been working to change my food habits…and family habits. I’m happy to say that since the new year, I haven’t had any cans or boxes in my lunches. All fresh made…making big batches of soups on the weekends, portioning them out, and freezing them. My family is now about 75%-80% processed free. Like you said…we are human. And three year-olds…ugh. I had to take a break from purchasing so much organic…still try to buy some…but the price, well, we don’t have as much flexibility with our paychecks. But you bet your butt when my mom moves out and Abby doesn’t need to be in full-time preschool, I will go back. What I’ve noticed, though, is that my grocery store is carrying more foods with GMO-free labels on them. I love that. And this past week, I vowed no more processed cookies, so I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies from scratch. Granted not all the ingredients were organic/GMO free, but still, no crap. I feel good about these changes. When I did make these changes, I finally got over a 2.5 month weight loss plateau. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think getting rid of most of the chemicals in food made my body happy and I began losing weight again.
On a side note, have you tried agave? I can buy it in my bulk section at my grocery store, but you can find it hear honey or syrup. They have maple flavored and organic and I put that on Abby’s waffles. She doesn’t know the difference. But plain agave, when I was still drinking coffee, was great. It’s so much sweeter than sugar too so you use less.
And because I’m rambling, one more thing to add…one day at my school cafeteria, I went it to get a fork, and saw one of my students with no fruits or veggies on his plate. I harped on him about it. Granted, he’s got allergies to corn and citrus, but he did go back and get some carrots. It sucks, but the lunch ladies can’t tell kids to put fruits and veggies on their plates even though it’s part of their meal. And I know the quality sucks (and it tastes so gross and unnatural), but they do offer lots of fruits and veggies for students to eat…but the kids just want the pizza. Ugh. Abby’s lunch will be packed. I know we can’t shelter them, but we can teach them when they are young.
I am a vegetarian for many reasons, but one of them is that I eat healthier this way. My son is 9 months old and I am struggling with the decision to feed him meat or not. I am hopeful that either way, having a kid to feed causes us to rethink our own diets even more.
My thoughts on it are raise him veg because that is what you do. At the ages he can start making decisions, let him try them. My friend I referred to did this. At some points they thought they were “defiant” but she was happy to let them eat what they wanted. They ultimately decided they didn’t want it. I wouldn’t make a 9 month old eat meat if that isn’t their home reality. No reason. THey can get plenty of nutrients from everything else. 🙂
Ugh! This is such a hard subject for me. I have watched a lot of these food docs in the past and have been watching more recently and I find them fascinatingly disturbing. I kind of know what I need to do but I find the implementation of it so difficult.
It doesn’t help that I live in an area “behind the times” and it is difficult to find organic and GMO-free products. One of my only options would be to drive 40 min to the only Whole Foods in the state increasing my inconvenience and my food budget.
Right now I’m trying to increase the amount of vegetables we eat and also read food labels more carefully to make better choices. But, we will still be eating hot dogs and mac & cheese for the foreseeable future.
Good for you for posting on this important topic. I bought a juicer last year and do not regret it at all. Yes, it does take up counter space, but having it out everyday reminds me to use it. I did a 24-hr juice fast after watching Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead and it was one of the toughest thing I ever did, but I’m glad I did it. I went vegan for awhile, but am now back to just vegetarian. (I love cheese too much, but do not drink dairy any more – only almond, soy or coconut milk). I feel so much healthier. I had no idea what the big food companies were doing to our diets, I was so in the dark about it. My brother was the one who turned me onto the whole documentary thing and since then I’m always on the lookout for new ones. I loved Vegucated! Haven’t seen Hungry for Change yet, thanks for listing it. PS. If you ever do buy a juicer, let me know and I’ll send you a few blogs I love for juice recipes. 🙂
Great post! Another movie to add to your list is Farmageddon. It’s eyeopening to the hypocrisy in the USDA and FDA. But I agree starting small can make a big difference. We’ve been eating paleo for over a year and I’m on day 21 of my whole30 right now. It’s amazing the differences you will see in you and your family. My 3.5 year old is more in tune and doesn’t have nearly as many “meltdowns” when he eats clean. And the 1yo is the same. Sleeping better, happier all around. We choose to eat animal protein but we only but humanely raised and fed products and we hunt for deer, elk and birds to really get the most truly “organic” meat we can possibly find. It’s a start to a longer life!
yeah I saw Farmaggedon recommended but I was pretty depressed already. That title seem to imply no redeeming commentary to get me out of my depression spiral.
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