Monday, May 12, 2014

A Challenge to Change

I'm going to go out on a limb here and write about a topic near and dear to me:  food.  Especially the food we are feeding our children.  It may ruffle a few feathers, but I'm okay with that.  I would like to encourage you to be open-minded and just consider entertaining implementing some of these ideas.  By no means am I a food savant, but I feel pretty strongly about what I'm about to share with you.

I think we can all agree, to some extent, there are environmental factors contributing to the rise in food allergies, serious illnesses, and the overall decline in the health of Americans.  In my opinion, the biggest culprit is our food.  The rise of childhood cancer, food allergies, and autism are frightening.  As a society, we are always questioning why this is.  I truly feel at least part of the equation is the food we consume. Over time, our sources of food have changed, genetically modified organisms have been introduced, and processed food has taken over the market.  As a mother of a child with a life-threatening peanut and tree nut allergy, I have found studies correlating the rise in food allergies with the introduction of GMO's to be very disturbing.

Over the course of the past five years, we have significantly changed our diet.  We primarily buy organic and non-GMO food and avoid food dye, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, among many other additives.  You may feel like it's a little over the top, but I've seen with my own eyes the effect food dye has on two of my children.  One is at home with me all day and one goes to preschool.  Since we keep it out of their diets at home, my son rarely consumes food dye anymore, while my daughter does if she has a snack that contains dye at preschool.  It takes me all of about ten minutes after pick up to know if she's had it or not.  She is hyper, out of control, and very hard to calm down.  My son used to be the same way, but has greatly improved since we have eliminated food dye from his diet.

You may be wondering where I'm going with this.  Well, let's cut to the chase.  I would like to encourage you to open up your pantries and read what is in your food.  Is it full of words you can't pronounce?  Does it contain food dye (there are so many foods, like Kraft marshmallows, that do)?  How much of it is healthy versus a filler, an unhealthy choice?  You may feel like it's not a big deal, but you are your child's first teacher and their role model.  What message are you conveying to them about food?

WHAT YOU FEED YOUR CHILD IS IMPORTANT!  Ultimately, we control what food is brought into our homes and what our children eat.  Say goodbye to the junk.  The food that provides very little nutrition, but plenty of empty calories.  At first it may be a challenge, but eventually it becomes second nature.  My kids still request Fruit Loops and Goldfish crackers, but I gently tell them no and tell them why we don't eat those foods.  It's okay to say no.

Think it costs too much to eat organic?  While it can be more expensive, your budget won't change much if you cut out the sugary snacks, frozen meals, and processed foods.  Think you don't have the time to cook?  Meal planning, prepping ahead, and/or making crockpot meals can greatly reduce your time in the kitchen in the evening.  Afraid your family will revolt?  They might at first, but over time they'll adapt.

My kids have grown to love fruit smoothies, fresh fruit, or air popped popcorn for a snack.  We enjoy trying new recipes for dinner and special treats.  It may not always be fast or convenient, but at the end of the day, it feels good to know you are putting the health of your family at the top of the priority list.

Stay tuned for some fun, easy ideas for snacks that don't come out of a box or a plastic bag!


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