Wednesday, April 21, 2010

my food experiment and what i learned

I have always been interested in food.  I read menus and recipe books for fun.  Trying out a new restaurant or recipe is an exciting adventure to me.  Ordering just the right dish or creating a perfect meal is so satisfying for me.  

Friends and family will call, text or e-mail me just about food.  And I love it.  

I have also been interested in nutrition.  I was going to major in nutrition but my interest in chemistry was not as strong as my interest in having fun during college.  But here is something that I didn't like about formally studying nutrition... all the rules.  Some rules that I don't believe in.  Some rules that I break all the time.  On purpose.  Since I am not one to really rock the boat, I just avoided the boat altogether.

Then I became a mom.  Sometimes habit, time, lack of planning, whining, the addiction to instant gratification took precedence over nutrition.  

That is why I was feeding "fruit" snacks to my kids on a regular basis.  Somewhere along the lines I decided it was okay to feed them this tooth-sugar-glue all the time.  Some genius took gum drops/gummi bears, shaped them in my kids' favorite characters, put the name fruit on the label, and I bought them.  A lot.  I ate them a lot, too.  Even before I had kids. 

That is why I was starting to think that a lunchable was a meal.  Karl was even surprised when he saw the stack in our fridge.  They were crackers (made from refined flour), processed cheese, ham with nitrites (causes childhood leukemia and tumors) and a Nestle crunch bar.  Never mind that the coupon I had made it so the store actually paid me to take them.  I was feeding me kids negative nutrition.  I liked that my kids got all excited over them.  See?  Instant gratification.

Little Caesar was becoming my friend.  I had the locations memorized, I could grab one and viola!  Instant dinner.  Only 5 bucks.  Almost fed my whole family and, hey, it had all the four food groups, right?  

There are more, but you probably get my point. 

Now, I think I have hit the reset button on my thinking about food.  

This does not mean that I do not eat junk anymore.  This does not mean that you will not see my kids eating shaved ice all summer.  This does not mean that I will not post about the waffles and fries that I had on Saturday or the La Puene smothered burrito I had on Monday (Sunday night I couldn't sleep I wanted one so bad.  So I talked Karl into going there for lunch the next day).  This just means that I have been looking at food a totally different way.  And I like it.

It started because I had a few worries about my kids.  It is my job to worry about them.  So I was talking with a doctor and she suggested doing an "elimination diet" to see what happened.  Just for two weeks.  That meant:

-no refined foods (white flour, white rice...)
-no refined sugars (honey, agave nectar, xylitol, maple syrup, and stevia are ok)
-no dairy
-no artificial colors

My first thoughts?  I am a sugar addict, Karl has dairy farmer roots, I was raised on white rice, there is no way I can do that.

But my gut knew that I could do this.  I can handle a small challenge.  I knew this could only be good for the kids.  I have always felt unsettled with the fact that Samuel had to have his tonsils and adenoids out when he was just a baby because he couldn't breath.  I have always felt unsettled that he had eczema so bad that no doctor, allergist, dermatologist, cream or pill could make it go away but as soon as we cut back his milk, it went away.  But I mostly just went with the flow.  

I learned several things:

Sugar is in so many things (high fructose corn syrup in ketchup, sugar in mayonnaise...)
I had a lot of junk in my cupboards.  There was a huge hole when I took the stuff out.  I was ruthless.  I threw out so much.  So not like me.  But we didn't really need Halloween and Christmas candy anymore, anyway.  Those that I couldn't bear to part with (the chocolate covered pretzels and almonds and macadamia clusters, the Girl Scout Cookies, they all went in a box and went downstairs).




I learned that if I make fresh whole wheat bread, my family will eat a ton of it.  Over four loaves a week!  We made pitas, too.  They were a pain but I'll probably do it again once I forget what a pain they were.  Samuel loves to cook.  He knows how to use this can opener that no one else can and it makes him feel so cool.  















I learned that my kids will eat almost anything if I make it cute. 
I learned that they love hummus and will eat red peppers and cucumbers if I serve it with hummus.
(egg in whole wheat bread with strawberries, apples and oranges.  Hole is the shape of a heart.)
 
(Banana muffins made with honey and whole wheat, strawberry grape "flowers", blackberry and apple "smiles," scrambled eggs)
(apple orange grape nashi "fishy" with edamame "seaweed."  I was sleeping in on a Saturday, Eva came in my room, took one of the cookbooks I had by my bed, found this idea, and had me cut up the fruit.  She assembled and came up with the "seaweed" on her own)
 

(apple, orange, grape, blackberry "penguin."  Eva designed it, I cut the fruit, and she assembled.  We also made eggs in the Hello Kitty waffle iron and it totally worked.  Little Hello Kitty omelets!  Cousin Katie slept over.  You can see their tent in the background.  SHE even ate the stuff.  It is not secret that I get anxiety when I need to feed a picky eater.  I should probably have gotten written consent from her to post this picture with her hair uncombed :))

I learned that school lunch is so not okay (Jamie Oliver, please come here next!). 
 Today's menu was quiche (fine), sweet rolls (dessert, fine), peaches (in syrup I am sure, okay, another dessert),  all to be washed down with chocolate milk (which has the same amount of sugar as Coke!  6 teaspoons per cup!).  That is just a little sample.  3 parts sugar, one part protein.  Eva cannot stay focused and energized with that kind of food.  Can anyone?

I learned that it takes more time and planning to make sure the meals are healthy.  Now I lose 20 minutes of sleep to make Eva's lunch.  I get out the cookie cutters and all the fruits and veggies and make her meals full of whole grains, proteins, and lots of fruits and veggies.  20 minutes well spent.  I don't have any pictures because I usually make it in a state of grogginess.  Mornings may never be my thing.

I learned that kids need to be presented with something 12 times before we give up on it.  Dr. Oz said that kids that eat only beige foods and don't try new things, their taste buds never mature.  I admit, it is easier to just give my kids mac n cheese.  But there was a time when I dreaded potty training, too.  But now that I went through the pain of training, it is so much better.   I won't let my kids use a diaper like a baby, I won't let them eat like a baby.  Funny what we think is acceptable, right?  But now, we actually enjoy food together.  

So, the two weeks came and went.  Easter was in that two weeks.  We are able to celebrate just fine.  The kids had a great day.  We had a great time celebrating with family.  

The project was a success.  I learned so much.  I feel very passionate about this.  I am passionate about focusing on feeding them nutritious foods that will make their bodies.  An added benefit?  I feel healthier now, too.  Because it is not like I was going to make them eat their nuts and raisins while I sneak a bite of a Snickers.  Well, for the most part.  

I learned that it isn't about deprivation.  It is about giving them so many great options that they won't miss the junk.  It is about giving them enough nutritious food that when they do have junk, their bodies can recover.  I learned that I can't always eat healthy, especially when traveling, but I can do my best.  I had a friend say that they felt so junk food deprived when they were young that he and his siblings went crazy with it when they were on their own.  He said at one point, he would calculate his paycheck by how many candy bars he could buy.  Funny, right?  I don't want my kids to be THOSE kids, the ones that beg for sugar at their friends' houses as soon as I am out of sight.  I will have to work on this one.

I learned that people might think I am nuts.  My family made sure of that.  But I can't help but look at food related diseases like diabetes and cancer and feel like I need to do my part to take care of my own little family.  

Oh, and I do have the image in my mind of my kids years down the road in a therapy session, talking about the day that their mom wouldn't let them have a piece of chocolate cake with bright blue frosting at their cousin's birthday party.  They had to sit and eat their whole wheat, honey brownies and everyone else got sparkly blue cake.  Poor things.


I have more to say about this.  I may elaborate. 
Watch me have a kid that is the world's pickiest eater that will only drink chocolate milk and eat Wonder bread.  Watch me post about the ooiest gooiest dessert with cream on top.  I realize that life happens.  But for now, I am really passionate about this.   Oh, did I already say, that?  It is because I am.


Healthy eating ideas, experiences, opinions?  I am all ears.

(It is 2 am.  Three of us are awake.  Samuel just told Karl that I make the best food but that Karl makes the BEST toast.)

14 comments:

Abbigail said...

I hear you and I totally agree. Can I send kitty to your house for food camp? I am pleased when she will eat cheese. Oh my goodness. Good job, I know all that baking was a full time job.
Xxxx

Pete said...

That was quite a long post and I can't say I read it all, but I agree with everything I read. I'm glad Sheralie is diligent in making us good food. This from a guy who lived on instant oatmeal and hot dogs in college. I used to eat a Hostess "Fruit" pie every day for breakfast and maybe one to help me go to sleep.

Kris Tina said...

Excellent work. I just read/am still reading/studying the book "eat to live" that talks about all of these things - it's a tough change but totally totally totally worth it. And I need you to help me with my bread.

And toddcat will totally get you advice on the shoes. He loves that stuff. But he once made me buy a star wars sweater telling me it was fashionable - so you can't always trust him.

Lindsay said...

I just started making my own whole wheat bread, so that's a start...but we still have a long way to go...
Have you seen Food, inc. yet? It's awesome.
So, will you share some of your favorite books and cookbooks that helped you make the change? :)

pamela said...

i love and adore this post and will be back to reread it many times. i've gone through most of the same things too.

**last year i went cold turkey on sugar. i had none, i mean NONE for 5 months. i lost 25 pounds (pregnancy leftovers) and had NO headaches whatsoever. the difference in my life was amazing.

cheers to you for doing this!

Emily said...

You inspire me. Can I just BE you??? Pleasssssee??
I try. Really I do. But my kids definitely still eat mostly beige.

Christina said...

Abbi- I would totally take Kitty. Just because we love her so much. I do know that my sister can get her nieces to eat things they didn't even know they liked.

Pete- I have always admired how healthy Sheralie is. In aspects beyond eating, too.

T- I will have to check that book out from the library. I will give you a bread lesson anytime. Seriously.

Lindsay- I saw the feature on Oprah where it had the Food Inc. guy. I am like #162 in line for it at the library. I am waiting patiently. I am worried it will make me want to go vegan. Then Karl will really flip. And I will be hungry and anemic :). As far as books, I didn't find any in particular that really helped. I got about 15 from the library and just skimmed through all of them.

Pamela- 25 lbs!? That is amazing! After reading all the statistics and and facts, I can't believe how bad for our bodies sugar is. I had no idea. Cutting ALL of it out would be so hard because it is in EVERYTHING. One more reason to think you are amazing.

Emily- Trust me, you don't want to be me. I only post the good stuff because no one wants to see a picture of me yelling at my kids or napping. Just wait, baby #3 will be the beigiest beige beige eater ever. And then I will eat my not so beige words about healthy eating.

Michelle said...

Christina!! i love this post. You are brave. You have to keep posting creative yummy stuff you make, so I can copy it. I'm on board in my mind, but it's soooooooooooooooo much work. Shame on America for making it so easy (and yummy) to eat foods that are full of enriched flower and sugar. I read the Body Ecology diet book last year and tried to cut out that stuff. It was so hard. I quit after 5 days. Keep posting. I want to hear MORE so I can be motivated to try it again.

Amy said...

Thank you for this well thought out insightful post. I loved reading it and would love to hear more about your "food revolution" as you continue on this journey.

There use to be a family in our ward who was Vegan. They were very health conscious, and nice people to boot. But, I always heard people talking behind their backs about how odd and wrong it was (mostly poking a little fun, but still). Yet, I never heard anyone judging the families who obviously feed their kids corn dogs and fast food hamburgers for dinner every night. Why is that?

It would be nice if the majority would get onboard with this way of thinking. Then maybe it wouldn't be so hard to live a healthy life (without turning into "that" mom and/or a social outcast). Thanks for the thoughts! Good luck.

Amy said...

Thank you for this well thought out insightful post. I loved reading it and would love to hear more about your "food revolution" as you continue on this journey.

There use to be a family in our ward who was Vegan. They were very health conscious, and nice people to boot. But, I always heard people talking behind their backs about how odd and wrong it was (mostly poking a little fun, but still). Yet, I never heard anyone judging the families who obviously feed their kids corn dogs and fast food hamburgers for dinner every night. Why is that?

It would be nice if the majority would get onboard with this way of thinking. Then maybe it wouldn't be so hard to live a healthy life (without turning into "that" mom and/or a social outcast). Thanks for the thoughts! Good luck.

Annie P said...

Dang it. I know that I should do it but it seems so hard. Is that lame or what? For Kenyon and my kids - I ought to just do it. My problem is my sugar addiction. It is BAD. I think I need to figure out all the things that I CAN eat first because I really hate being hungry.

Thanks for sharing. I am going to try and do better. It's a start.

Keep sharing tips/ideas so that I can implement some changes around here.

Courtney said...

Love it. I am so inspired. Keep us all posted.

Nells-Bells said...

i just finished reading both your posts and love it! this is something i am trying to implement in our family. i hate that all naomi wants to eat is fruit snacks and not actual food. this definitely needs to change. she is addicted to sugar and i'm afraid i am the culprit. i hate that sugar is in EVERYTHING now and the government wants to heave a health care crisis because they are allowing the food in our stores to be so unhealthy. i think i will have to try dropping all sugar for 2 weeks. we shall see what happens...

Nells-Bells said...

i just finished reading both your posts and love it! this is something i am trying to implement in our family. i hate that all naomi wants to eat is fruit snacks and not actual food. this definitely needs to change. she is addicted to sugar and i'm afraid i am the culprit. i hate that sugar is in EVERYTHING now and the government wants to heave a health care crisis because they are allowing the food in our stores to be so unhealthy. i think i will have to try dropping all sugar for 2 weeks. we shall see what happens...

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails