About a year ago, I stopped buying processed food.
I stopped buying Goldfish and crackers and fruit snacks and granola bars and pretzels and even cereal.
My kids weren’t exactly happy.
But I felt good about making that change.
Because there is nothing good in that stuff.
Like pretty much absolutely nothing.
Over the past couple months, I caved a little.
I started buying cereal again.
And then crackers.
Mostly because of convenience.
The mornings are easier when you can throw a bowl of cereal in front of your kid and be done with it.
At first, I rationalized the cereal telling myself that it was Cheerios.
I mean, how bad are Cheerios?
Well, when you give them to your kids and then pour a whole bunch of sugar on them, they aren’t so healthy anymore.
But even without the sugar, Cheerios aren’t really all that healthy. They are still processed. They still have preservatives. They still have stuff on the list of ingredients that you might not be able to pronounce.
And then the Cheerios morphed into Frosted Mini Wheats.
Which led to Honey Nut Chex.
Which might as well be called Honey Nut Crack.
Because my kids turned into little drug addicts with that shit.
I bought a big box of it at Costco, and inside that box were two big bags.
And twenty four hours later, both of those bags were empty.
It was kind of disturbing.
And I don’t buy the argument that they went psycho eating that stuff because they had been denied it.
I think they went psycho because it’s addictive.
Sugar is addictive.
For some people it’s worse than others.
For me, it’s pretty bad.
And for children, I think it’s the same. I think it’s hard to regulate that desire when you are a kid.
And I think the more you have it, the more you crave it.
So, I’m going back to no processed food.
I’m not saying I’m cutting sugar out of my kids’ lives.
I’m okay with treats. And dessert. Especially if it’s homemade.
I like the 80/20 rule. (80% good stuff/20% not as good stuff).
But I want to feel good about what I am putting into my kids’ bodies.
And I also want to set them up for success.
I don’t want them to be halfway through their lives and then have to undo decades of bad habits.
It’s hard to reset your palate at 40.
It’s much easier to set the dial to healthy at 4.
It’s not going to be easy.
It’s going to mean I have to spend a little more time preparing.
It’s going to mean I need to do a better job with planning.
But it may mean my kids have to spend less time at the doctor’s office down the road.
And you know what else?
The benefits go beyond just establishing healthier habits.
I want to educate my kids about food.
And I want to teach them how to cook.
I think that is time well spent. Real quality time.
A few months ago, I was doing that with Number 4, who begs to help in the kitchen pretty much daily.
And then, I just let that stop. I started telling her Not tonight. I don’t have time.
Every time she asked.
And it’s been months since we did anything in the kitchen together.
Today I made a Southwestern chopped salad that someone in my e-course had shared the recipe for.
Number 4 was doing something, and I didn’t think to ask her to help me.
But my dining room table had gotten to disaster proportions again with laundry piled on top of it.
And I had called in my parents to come help me out for a couple hours since all the kids were home from school and we needed to get our Easter eggs dyed.
It took my me and my mom about two hours, but we got everything folded and put away.
And then we got the eggs dyed.
And then I made that salad.
I even made the dressing to go on it. An avocado/lime dressing.
Oh my God. It was so fucking good.
Anyway, it was such a good salad that I thought to myself, I really want to sit in my clean dining room, at my nice dining room table.
It was kind of like when I got my hair cut and then I wanted to stop wearing my yoga pants 24/7.
When you put care into your food, you really want to enjoy it.
You know, rather than shoving it into your mouth as you drive your kids to practice.
And then I thought, why not have the girls try this salad?
So Number 4, Number 5, and I sat down and had lunch together.
We broke out the fancy glasses and had a girls’ lunch.
It was fun, and it was delicious, and I feel really good about what I put into their bodies.
In fact, Number 5 realized that avocado isn’t disgusting. And they both asked when they could have that salad again.
We’ll have it again soon.
The only thing I’ll do differently is that next time, I’ll let them help me make it.
In fact, my goal is to try one new food or recipe each week, and to let the kids participate.
When we do, I’ll share our results with you.
And then maybe rather than enjoying processed food with your kids, you can start to enjoy the process of cooking too.
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