Over the last year, we have been renovating some of our eating habits. I think that we've always been relatively good eaters. We all eat quite a bit of vegetables and fruit. My philosophy has been, you can eat the dessert as long as you eat the vegetables too. I don't harp on my girls to eat, but provide good choices for them. We have never had a lot of McDonald's or convenience food. But we do love our chocolate chip cookies!
When we discovered Cora's allergies I had to stop and rethink what we eat. The research I did opened my eyes to ways we could all be healthier. It is a gradual process, and I am not a purist. Here are some of the changes we have made:
1. Eat food closer to its natural state. This means we eat butter, not margarine or shortening. We eat whole milk, not skim. We eat the fattiest yogurt we can afford. We eat "real" cheese slices, not processed "fake" cheese. We eat a Smart Balance peanut butter that still tastes good but has very few ingredients. I am grinding my own wheat to use for bread and baking. (Please forgive me for how homeschoolish this is. I use a bread machine for the bread, and overall it does not take as much time or effort as you would think. If I don't have time for it, I buy bread from the store.)
2. Stay away from artificial growth hormones and abundant antibiotics. Anderson Erickson, Target, and Aldi have non rBGH milk. I would love to drink non homogenized milk or completely organic milk, but right now can't afford it. I also aim to eat organic chicken with no antibiotics or hormones, but haven't found an affordable option for this either. Hurry up, Trader Joe's!
3. Reduce high fructose corn syrup and soy, because they are genetically modified foods. This is a tough one. Corn syrup and soy are in almost everything. Part of my solution for this has been to use more homemade snacks instead of ready made crackers and such. I have a nummy granola bar recipe and healthy chocolate chip bar recipe I make in big batches, then wrap the servings individually and freeze. I made homemade strawberry freezer jam with sugar. We mix this with natural vanilla yogurt to make strawberry yogurt. I am working on finding brands and foods that have less soy and corn syrup in them, then sticking with them.
4. Avoid artificial colorings and preservatives. If I can't pronounce or understand the words in the ingredient list, maybe I shouldn't be eating it. The fewer ingredients the better. To help with this, I am making my own macaroni and cheese. It really doesn't take any longer than making it from the box. You boil the macaroni, then mix in some real cheese, milk, and a little cream cheese. The girls have adapted to this fine. Pop is a big no no in this category. Unfortunately, I really like Mountain Dew. This is all a balancing game, which means I am reducing my intake of pop and feeling good about it.
The bottom line is that I would rather have a sick child with a healthy soul than a healthy child with a sick soul. But I want to be a good steward of my family. To that end, I am going to do all I can to keep us healthy.