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Healthy Kids, Healthy Planet

I have a lot on my mind today…

First of all, my very first video blog.

So what do you think?  How do we raise kids who are healthy, happy, and well rounded?  How do I raise my daughter to love and appreciate her food, and to think about it as fuel and not a reward?  I grew up in a house where food was a reward, a celebration…  I want my daughter to enjoy her food, but to think of it as FOOD, material to help her body function better.  I don’t want her to think about food as often as I do, and I want her to love fruits and veggies as much as she will love sweets.

I want exercise to be a regular, normal part of her day.  I want her to be a reader and a smarty pants, and also an active little girl who spends a lot of time outside.  So how do I find the balance for her?  Although I spent some time outside as a kid, mostly I was a bookworm and would happily have curled up with a book.  I’m glad, because I still love to read, but it meant I wasn’t very active, and the older I got the less active I was.

I cook at home almost every day.  My daughter has at least one serving of fruit, veggies, cheese, yogurt, whole grains, and lots of water every day.  She doesn’t like meat, so she gets her protein from her yogurt and from beans and some green veggies.  She also gets a few bites of sweets when we have them.  I feel like she eats really well right now, but trying to keep her nutrition balanced is really tough sometimes.  I am noticing that I don’t always get enough fruits/veggies in my own diet, and I am struggling to change that now that she is closer and closer to just eating everything we eat all the time.

As for exercise, she and I go out on a morning walk every week day.  About half the time we also do a long walk on at least one weekend day as well.  She watches me exercise at home and as soon as she’s able I’ll have her do it with me.  When I go out for my C25K runs, she rides along in her stroller, and when she gets bigger hopefully she’ll follow along on her bike or scooter or skates or her own two feet.

So maybe I’m doing alright.  Maybe if I just keep making the best choices I can when it comes to feeding myself and my family, she will grow up right?  I’d love your thoughts on this.


As for my next concern…

I’ve been reading a lot, a TON, lately about all of the various arguments/websites/books/movies/articles that push for various diets.  Organic, vegetarian, vegan… and I am having a hard time with something in particular.  I might be crazy, but to me it smacks just a bit of paranoia.  I know I’m not going to make any friends with this theory, but I just don’t know for sure what to think.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I honestly DO believe that there is a lot wrong with the way we think about, purchase, and consume food in this country.  In small, slow steps, a lot will hopefully change about our own eating as time passes.  But I just feel… manipulated by all of these sources.  I feel battered by the constant claims, harassed by the continued assumption that I am somehow less caring/intelligent/kind/loving because I choose to continue eating meat or because my budget doesn’t allow me to purchase certain things.

As a friend recently posted on Facebook, just because something is better, or is a good price, doesn’t mean I can afford it.  Sometimes something being ten cents cheaper is genuinely enough to make a difference.  If I can buy organic food for $5, or get the regular variety at WalMart for $2, and we’re barely able to pay our bills, how can I make the “moral” choice?  Sometimes a few dollars really, honestly, could make or break us.  So I get tired of feeling judged for the choices I make.

I do think I eat too many processed foods.  I have already cut out soda completely, except for the very occasional fast food trip (where I get soda because it’s cheaper than the tiny, overpriced water bottles.)  We eat meat once or twice a week and fish/seafood maybe once a week.  When the farmers markets open in May or June, we do go to them and try to get what we can there, though in our area the produce is often limited in variety and significantly more expensive than at the stores.  We try to buy low/no sugar options, and when the price difference is affordable, we do try to choose organic options.  I feel like we’re doing what we can.

When I followed a link to the Food Inc website (the movie a lot of people talk about when arguing certain food practices) there was a list of ten “simple” ways to make changes.  When I looked them over, I could say with certainty that I already do eight of those ten things.  The two left to work on were to push for better job protection for farmers and to buy organic.

I don’t know… I would love your thoughts/input on this, but please be gentle.  I want to make the right choices, but I also want to continue paying my mortgage.


7 Responses

  1. I find it helpful to look back to healthy societies that are not overweight and are healthy. They eat moderately. And even their celebratory foods are healthy. The final dessert that they might have is usually less sweet than we would have.

    Also, I think our store bought foods have a lot of additives and cheap ingredients that make them even more unhealthy. Homemade pizza is healthier. You could do 1/2 wheat 1/2 white dough, and your husband wouldn’t really even notice let alone your daughter.

    I think you’re doing great. Especially where your family is agewise. I’ve found my 7 and 5 year old prefer ‘active play’ like kicking a ball or tag to when I term it ‘exercise’ or a requirement. They are willing and able but resent requirements or demands. You’re doing awesome!

    • I already try not to call it “exercise” or to talk a lot about calories…

      As for the pizza argument, I would absolutely make my own, but what happens when she turns ten and wants takeout? That’s where I don’t know what to do.

    • We do this every Friday night! We make our own dough w/ half wheat flour and get to put on our own fresh toppings. Pizza isn’t really unhealthy when it’s just flour, cheese, and veggie/fresh toppings. Great tip!

  2. You know I’m struggling with the whole Organic food thing as well. I think you do what you can, and who gives a crap what anyone else thinks?
    It’s damn expensive to buy this stuff. I try to pick the most important things *to me* – fruit, meat and dairy. If I can get those in an organic form, then I’m happy for now. We’re also eating way less meat these days, and lots more pasta and beans (which isn’t a bad thing, imho). Just do what you can, you know?
    And it sounds like you’re doing great with your daughter. You’re leading by example, which is the best thing you can do for her. I once read that you should look at your children’s diet by the week, not by the day. So if at the end of the week she’s had her portions of fruit, veggies, grains, etc – then she’s good!

    • You’re right, we all just need to do what we can. As long as we’re making an effort, we’re doing good things for ourselves, our families, and hopefully the planet.

      I like what you said about looking at her diet by the week, because she definitely has some grain heavy days or days when she doesn’t get fruit because we ran out, or whatever…

  3. I buy organic minimally processed foods such as milk, cheese, chicken, ground beef. The most important things to buy organic are fruits and veggies. I have found local farmer’s markets to be the best for this although I realize I may be a bit spoiled out here in CA. One tip is to buy organic flash frozen veggies as an alternative to fresh because they are cheaper and don’t lose the nutrients like they do when they are canned. Just do what is financially right for your family. Dr Oz also has the list of ten food you should be buying organic.

    As for everything else, just lead by examples and I think the occasional pizza or cake is ok. We do that for our 5 year old son and most of the time, he doesn’t even want it (or eats one or two bites then is done). If they aren’t used to the taste of bad food, they won’t crave it, it won’t control them. I make his meals by scratch each night so he is used to healthy food.

    You’re doing a great job with her!

  4. oh, I forgot I was going to write(I was multitasking/nursing) that I also have a little organic garden in my back yard. We plant seasonal veggies out there. There’s nothing like summer to have some yummy tomatoes and zucchini! This also helps me keep the costs of organic veggies down.

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