Moms are savvy. We have to be. Many of us live on a relatively-modest income. We understand firsthand the juggling act of meeting the ever-increasing costs of housing, transportation, clothing, insurance, medical, school supplies, and the myriad of incidental expenditures we incur living our daily lives. We know how to find a screaming deal (or, how to create one!) We don’t mind begging, borrowing, or re-purposing almost anything in order to stretch our dollars like Gumby.
Then . . . there’s food. We raised five boys. Eating machines. Our grocery bill was always our highest monthly expenditure after the mortgage or rent. And nothing’s changed now that our family is expanding with marriages, grandkids and the strays we love to feed. Prices just keep climbing. 1
But groceries cost us more than money. The whole food category can wear a woman down. After inventorying our cupboards and fridge, meal planning, list-making, shopping, paying, loading, unloading . . . we’ve already invested multiple hours of our time and we haven’t even begun to prepare the food to be eaten!
Feeling pressed for time and money, we can become careless about our food choices. With all the other plates we’re spinning, who’s got time to think about balanced diets and nutrition? “Fill ‘em up fast and cheap!” may be your motto. Chicken nuggets, French fries, and mac ‘n cheese, available in bulk at the big-box store, can become very attractive options. An easy fix, and kids will be happy about lunch – one less war. A big fat black checkmark on one of life’s perpetual nagging to-do’s as a mommy, right?
Not so fast. Just by filling them up, doesn’t mean we’ve ‘fed’ them. Food is defined as ‘any nutritious substance that people eat or drink, in order to maintain life and growth.’2 Everywhere I go, kids seem to exist on non-nutritive, high-calorie, refined food-like products loaded with white flour, fillers, chemicals, sugar and salt. Much of what’s going down the hatch simply can’t be considered real ‘food.’
Like I said, “groceries cost us more than money,” but let’s make sure they’re not costing us our health.
What we’re eating is, quite frankly, a life or death matter. Here are the facts:
- The rate of chronic disease among children has doubled in the past two decades, with much of the increase a result of obesity.3
- An estimated one-third of American children and two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. 4
- Being overweight is a main cause of Type 2 diabetes, an epidemic in our nation, which can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney failure, impotence, amputations, and mental decline. 5 America spends more than $100 billion on healthcare needs related to obesity every year with prescription drugs for controlling diabetes making up much of that cost. 5b
But, here’s the good news…
- A diet in which fruits, vegetables, and other natural plant foods supply the vast majority of calories, affords us powerful protection against disease. 6
- Although at epidemic proportions in our nation, Type 2 diabetes is primarily a lifestyle-induced disease that can often be reversed through lifestyle changes: eating a healthy, fiber-rich diet and getting regular exercise.7
“My clinical experience over the past ten years has shown me that almost all the major illnesses that plague Americans are reversible with aggressive nutritional changes designed to undo the damage caused by years of eating a disease-causing diet.” Dr. Joel Furhman 8
By our daily example, we parents are not only managing our homes and children, we are imparting a lifestyle with far-reaching implications. What happens in our kitchens, ladies, will literally affect every aspect of our family’s lives; body weight, moods, allergies, anxiety, regularity, energy levels, sexual dysfunction, adolescent acne, depression, immune system function, time spent at doctor’s offices, annual medical costs . . . all the way to life expectancy. Many would argue that eating right is too expensive, but eating poorly is costlier by far. 9
Here are five helpful keys to realizing an all-around healthier level as a household:
1. Take inventory. Honestly list and evaluate what’s been on the menu at your house the past couple of weeks. It’s easy to say, “we eat pretty healthy,” because we believe we should, and we know better, but what we’re actually doing may not line up with our convictions. Clean out the cupboards, fridge, and freezer, and trash the ‘decoys.’ It’s time for change!
2. As a rule of thumb, eat food the way God made it. Keep an arsenal on hand of everything that grows in the ground. Require the daily eating of (organic if possible) fresh, colorful salads with a variety of vegetables and fruit in the mix. Radishes, broccoli, oranges, sweet red peppers, sugar snap peas, purple cabbage, sprouts, sweet onion, spinach, apple, romaine, strawberries, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, grated carrot, and turnip are some great salad ingredients. I didn’t say iceberg lettuce drowning in bottled ranch dressing with so many preservatives it will never die.
3. Fresh or frozen fruit should be part of the daily diet. Smoothies made with frozen fruit are a super alternative to a bowl of ice cream. As the blender whirs, toss in fresh spinach, romaine lettuce, chia seeds, peanut butter, cacao powder, celery, and spirulina to get a mega-boost of goodness without any flavor loss.
4. Ration minimal and rare portions of processed foods such as sweetened breakfast cereals, deep-fried chips, cheese crackers, white bread, and candy. We all love our occasional treats, but remember why they’re called ‘treats.’ Sidenote: Beware of snack bars. The plethora available is dizzying and many are billed as healthy or natural. These are typically loaded with harmful fillers like fructose corn syrup, genetically modified components, chemicals and copious amounts of sugar. Ingredients are clearly listed on the items we purchase. Read the labels!
5. Make water the drink of choice at your house. Buy distilled or invest in a good filter. Unfortunately, we often can’t trust our city water supplies to deliver the real thing to our pipes. Apple juice, soda, energy drinks, and iced coffees belong in the ‘occasional treat’ category. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate with pure, filtered H2O.
We cannot feed our families a standard American diet and expect them to excel. Perhaps you, Mom or Dad, didn’t have the privilege of learning this as a lifestyle while growing up. It’s not too late! The power for change is in your hands. Pioneer a better path of ‘eating to live’ for your family. Before you know it, these forays into nutritious eating will become lifelong habits. 10
Our family is the perfect test case. I remember when one or more of my five boys would wrinkle up their noses at some of the things I habitually fed them; now they insist on those very same ingredients in their regular meals and especially request big colorful salads at my house, while they enjoy every vegetable under the sun. They thank me regularly for ‘teaching their tastebuds’ to like a broad variety of flavors and textures their friends were never expected to eat.
Want to read more? Here ya go… Grab my free E-book 15 Minutes to Raising an Extraordinary Human HERE
(3 On Your Side: Climbing Food Prices by Jim Donovan. http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2012/05/15/3-on-your-side-climbing-food-prices/)
New Oxford American Dictionary
(USAToday.com, February 16, 2010, “More children have chronic diseases; study cites obesity,” by Liz Szabo.)
(Reuters.com March 28, 2010 Junk Food Addiction May Be Clue to Obesity: study by JoAnne Allen)
(Helping One Another page 5 a publication of Christian Care Medi-Share. By William H. White, Ph.D, director for Health Initiatives. And Readers Digest, March 2008, Health IQ Type 2 Diabetes, Joel Furhman, M.D. pg 50) 5b(Costco Magazine January 2010 pg 35)
(Walter C. Willett, M.D., Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard’s School of Public Health and a speaker at the American Association for Cancer Research) (Eat To Live by Joel Furhman, M.C. pg 57)
(Reader’s Digest, March 2008, Health IQ, Type 2 Diabetes, pg 50 and Helping One Another, Christian Care Medi-Share, Diabetes Can Be Reversed, by William H. White, Ph.D. Director for Heath Initiatives)
(Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., pg. 143)
(World Health Organization, 1999. World Health Statistics Annual WHO Statistical Information System-WHOSIS-Table 1: number of deaths and death rates, age 55-75 inclusive.) (Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman, pg. 144)
(‘Why Kids Are Still Obese’ Parents have the greatest influence over what their children will eat. MSNBC.com July 5, 2007)