When I was in high school, I read Upton Sinclar’s The Jungle. It was a novel that highlighted the atrocities of the meat packing plants in the early 20th century. This book is what started it for me. In 2000, I got my hands on a copy of Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser, and became pretty passionate about nutrition and food. (Engaged, we were eating fast or restaurant food nearly every week. I didn’t grab the physical fitness piece until we lived in Hawaii, but every journey starts somewhere.) Since that time, I have devoured any documentary I can get my hands on about the subject of food, nutrition, and health.
Have you heard about the new documentary Fed Up? If you haven’t, please do. It’s worth the watch. It, along with others such as Food, Inc., will change the way you think about what you put on your plate. Not only that, it will make you think about what you are providing for your family, how your kids are marketed to, and just how stacked the deck is in terms of achieving lasting weight loss. The food industry is big business. They are not out to help you. They are not providing products for your well-being, although that is how it comes across through their advertising genius. They are companies that are simply making money. A lot of it, in fact. Take the time to watch the film. Many of these documentaries tend to be alarmist and over-kill (and in many cases, rightfully so), but this particular one doesn’t implore viewers to run out and start their own farms or live in a commune off the grid. It simply points out the facts and brings to light that the system is broken, and why.
I get that feeding families can be difficult. I SO get it. Throw in special needs, particular eaters, sensory issues, medical conditions, and it feels like you need to be a short order cook. I feel like a short order cook. It’s enough to make us throw up our hands and just let our kids have whatever they will actually eat. “Oh, we grew up on ______________, and we turned out fine.”
Nope. Nuh-uh. This isn’t cutting it. I don’t know about you, but I want better. I don’t like settling and giving up. Call me old fashioned, but when I make a yummy meal for my family, I see it as providing nourishment; both physical and emotional. Not every morsel needs to be Pinterest-creative (Seriously?! Who has the time for that crap?) nor does it need to be holiday-meal-formal. Let’s get real.
Here are some of the things I’m “fed up” with:
- Fruit Snacks It’s a snack, but it’s hardly fruit. it’s corn syrupy sugar and food dye. Here’s an idea. Cut up an apple. It’s a fruit, and it’s a snack. No time for slicing and dicing? Try a banana. It even comes in its own wrapper. And the bonus? Actual fruit is FAR cheaper than that tiny pack of gummy-candy-disguised-as-fruit.
- Brand Loyalty Don’t be fooled by a company you think is “safe”. Did you know that General Mills just bought Annie’s Organic brand for $820 million? Even if the brand stays true to its origins, money you are spending is being funneled to the bigger companies that do not have nutrition as it’s primary focus. And the bottom line, you can make homemade macaroni and cheese on the stove top in the same amount of time as the boxed garbage. You don’t need a packet of orange cheese. Try milk, butter and actual cheese. It’s delish.
- “It’s too expensive to eat healthfully.” *Cough, cough* bull$&!t! That is simply not true. Yes, a 2-liter of soda is cheaper than a bag of apples. But the apples will last longer, keep you fuller, and actually feed your body. Ounce for ounce, it is far cheaper to make meals from real ingredients at home. Don’t buy the lie.
- “I don’t have the time to eat well.” Lose the theory that you need to be an italian grandmother simmering a sauce for 7 hours. This doesn’t have to be extreme. It’s not all or nothing. Spending an hour prepping once a week can make meal time a cinch through the week. Have a plan. Follow through.
- “But it’s organic!” Buying an organic version of Ritz crackers is still buying junky crackers. Okay, so there may not be any GMOs (genetically modified ingredients) which is great, but why buy them at all? Why not spend that money on a snack that doesn’t come in a box? Why not buy more produce? There are TONS of fruits and vegetables – try one you haven’t tried before or better yet, let the kiddos pick out something new!
Ingredients that you put together and cook, bake, sauté, or grill = real food. Items you buy that have packaging and mile-long ingredient lists = not real food. It’s food-like product.
What are you fed up with? Feeling like you have no energy? No motivation? I get it. It hasn’t been easy. In fact, it’s been a long (15 years!) process for me and my family. My husband LOVES it when a new documentary comes out! He gives me a hard time about it, but he also knows that it fuels my passion. There is no magic. There isn’t some miracle product that will make it faster and easier to cook at home. (If there was, wouldn’t we have found it by now?!) It’s not glamourous.
But, it’s worth it.
Think about what you are eating. Take the blinders off. Realize that food companies are in it to make money. They don’t make money by advertising broccoli. Think.
Think, and then eat well.