Friday, August 24, 2012

Confessions of a Struggling Real Food-lover

The other day when I was sharing about how my husband has gone Paleo, a friend of mine commented that sometimes when I post about our real-food ambitions or accomplishments, she feels bad that she isn't as interested in healthy eating as I am.  She has a blog too (that's how we've kept in touch since we moved far, far away...), and she is so incredibly transparent and sincere on when she writes - it's one of my favorite things about reading her blog.

I think sometimes in the Real Food world, it's easy to read about other peoples' lives and feel like we're not doing everything right, or we're not doing enough.

Like, what if my organic produce came from a state away, instead of my backyard?  Failure!

What if my backyard hens eat food that comes in a bag, instead of all grass, worms, and hand-chopped slugs?  Failure!

What if I let my kid take normal (i.e. white flour) cupcakes to the park to celebrate his birthday with friends, instead of baking up some sort of horrible healthy monstrosity (my last attempt, soaked-wheat muffins from Nourishing Traditions, were so dry that the other kids wouldn't touch them)?  What if I actually let my kids eat said normal cupcakes so they wouldn't feel like social pariahs?  Failure!

What if I was so sick and out-of-it on Sunday that when my mom called and offered to bring us a pizza for dinner, I said, "Absolutely, thank you so, so much" instead of "Never let that white-flour blasphemy reach my ears again, Mother!"   Failure!

The thing is, when you're trying to feed your kids all nourishing food in a not-very-nourishing food environment, there are bound to be some not-so-perfect moments.  But who blogs about all the things they screw up?  Not me!  I tell you all about my progress, ideals, and successes.

Maybe there are a few of you who are either so motivated, so dedicated, or so experienced that you really never eat any unhealthy crud.  I applaud you.  Maybe someday, I will be like you.  But for now, I will do what I can and try not to agonize over the rest.  I'm not saying we're not striving to improve, or making progress.  But I need to remember to compare myself to myself (like, am I doing better than I was this time last year?), instead of comparing myself with others (like, would so-and-so-the-cool-food-blogger eat this?).

And, by the way, I did peel the cheese and pepperoni off the pizza my mom brought and give the crust to the chickens (poor girls)...

I know we all try our best to eat real food, support real agriculture, and change the food landscape in whatever ways we can.  How often do you compromise on your food?  What percentage of your diet do you feel proud of, and what part do you wish you could change?  Is there anything that takes precedence over real food?

Posted at Simple Lives Thursday and Fat Tuesday Pin It

12 comments:

  1. Wow. This is exactly what I've been thinking about the past few days. I was talking with a friend the other day, and she commented on how I have influenced her diet and shopping habits since she tries to find more local and organic and unprocessed foods for her family. We were having this conversation as I was preparing mac and cheese (from a box! horrors!) because I was too exhausted to fight with my husband on dinner that night. He is so picky and so addicted to processed foods every meal is a battle at our house. Some days I fight valiantly and produce beautiful, healthy, organic, whole foods prepared from scratch that I am proud to feed my family-- and my husband won't touch it. And some days I give in and buy easy mac at the grocery store-- because my husband eats it happily and thanks me for dinner when I do.
    There have been tears, frustration, and angry words over this whole ordeal-- but I have come to the conclusion that it's about balance. You do the best you can with what you have to work with-- be that budget, location, or family resistance. You celebrate your successes and try not to beat yourself up when the family wants to go to Applebees. It's kinda like when Sesame Street had to change Cookie Monster's gig- he couldn't promote eating cookies and only cookies all the time, so they did this whole 'sometimes' food thing.
    That's what I tell myself sitting around the table at Applebees with my otherwise happy family. This is a sometimes food, Cookie Monster. And while we may not be healthier for it-- no member of my family has yet perished from an occasional meal of processed gunk.
    Our normal is much better though. We are finding a balance, and trying to feel blessed that everyone is healthy and thriving in spite of those food 'fail' moments.

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    1. I love the "sometimes food" idea, too. Poor Cookie Monster.
      We have battles sometimes over mac 'n cheese too.
      It's crazy trying to find the balance between loving people through cooking good things for them and loving them by cooking what they like, isn't it? Maybe as your little guy grows up eating lots of real food, his daddy will find it more and more appealing. :)

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  2. I hear ya sister! Why does it have to be so difficult to eat real food in this real world while engaging with other real people? If I was a hermit that lived all by myself and never interacted with other people I think I would be just fine eating right all the time. However, that's lame and not practical and just horrible to think about so the for me the most difficult time to eat real food is when dining out or engaging in a fine meal at others' homes. I feel like I even hype myself up and tell myself that I'm not going to eat said processed, refined grain & sugar filled food before I even step foot out the door. This is exactly what happened last night and I did fine avoiding nasty buns that went with the epic burgers and we had tons of fresh veggies that I always contribute but then the multi-layered brownie dessert appeared in front of me and I definitely enjoyed it.

    I've come to the conclusion that making and keeping friends and community is way more important than me feeling good and proud about everything I eat. I think I feel proud of about 90% of my diet. That's an A, go me. If I could change one part it would be that I had more friends locally to dine with that ate the same way and it would be sooo much easier.

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    1. So true about community and friendship being so much more important! That is where we struggle the most too, when we have friends over (and don't want to scare them with weird food), go out to eat with others, or go on playdates, etc.
      Also, I love that you saved up your "10%" for a delicious dessert. Way more fun than wasting it on gross buns!

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  3. This was great, Danielle, thanks for sharing.
    If I'm being honest, I'd say I feel "proud" (at least somewhat) of about 50% of what I eat. That's a failing grade! And I'm pregnant...yikes!
    I think part of being a mom/wife, at least for me, is finding a balance in everything. Tonight was Will's 13th straight night working, and for dinner the kids had cereal (and not any that's supposedly "good" for you) and I had an english muffin. Was it a healthy dinner? No. Was it better than fried food from a drive through? I have to believe it was. I also have to believe that for a tired, stressed out mom at the end of the week...it was the best choice. Tomorrow is another day. There always has to be that balance - what's affordable/not practical right now; easy, stress-free dinner/something more healthy - etc. It's not benefiting anyone if I'm struggling to get through the day with my sanity intact and making that dinner is going to push me over the edge. Not that eating healthy is/has to be that complicated, but do you understand what I mean?
    I think I'm babbling in your comments. One more thing, I think it's easier for me to keep that ever-elusive "balance" by making small changes. Slowly they add up...at least that's what I'm telling myself ;)

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    1. I so agree, Stacia, that little changes add up and are so much easier to stick to than huge overhauls (at least for me!) I can't even imagine having to take care of the kids in the evenings all by myself, especially for such long stretches. Don't know how you do it. :)

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  4. It's so easy to get caught up in the competitiveness of eating healthier. I try to watch myself closely since I have a tendency towards "all or nothing" thinking. I tell myself "80-20" is better than most people and good enough for me. If I follow my principles 80% of the time, the other 20% won't kill me.

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    1. So true! Instead of being something to help us feel good and do good, it is easy to make it about being "as healthy as" someone else, or whatever. Sometimes other people can help motivate us to change our habits, though, when we see all they do. As long as we keep our priorities and perspective, real food blogging can be such a great thing, too.

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  5. There's a huge difference between organic produce coming from another state and eating store bought cupcakes. I have things I'll compromise on once in a while, like organic produce over local if it's not in season, but there is a definitely a line.

    The doing what you can and not agonizing over the rest doesn't sound like a strategy to improve. It's the agony that ultimately ends up as a motivator. If I made a mistake in the past with food, you're damn right I agonized over it, because next time I was in that situation I remembered that and made the correct choice. It's those moments in part that separate getting from where we want to be, to settling for less. My philosophy is if you feel something's important, there should be no settling.

    And can some stuff! I made a gigantic batch of your butternut squash chili and there is no better easy dinner than popping open a jar and heating it up.

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    1. I agree about the store-bought cupcakes. Mine were homemade, at least (and used fantastic blackberries from our bushes!), just heavy on the white flour, which is usually shunned in our kitchen.

      I also agree that learning from our mistakes, rather than repeating them, is the way to change our habits. You can bet the next time I feel any illness coming on, I'll be sure to stock the house with plenty of easy things to make a healthy dinner, rather than panicking at the last moment (like with the pizza). Also, at most times of the year, I have more food ready in the house than during the summer, so this was a rather unique predicament.

      However, there really are times when I have reached the end of my resources, whether they be time, money, skill, willpower, or sanity. If I have truly done all that I can, yes, I will learn, and yes, I will strategize to improve what I can. I'm just not going to carry around a load of guilt over what was done in the past. I'm not making excuses, just trying to focus my energy on what I can control.

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    2. Oh, thanks so much for the compliment on the butternut squash chili! It is super good, isn't it?

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  6. Hi i am Greg Mclardie and i am a food lover, glad that i landed on your page.

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I'd prefer a great discussion to this one-sided pontification any day. Help a girl out. Please leave a comment.

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