As a mother of two young children, proper nutrition is always at the top of my agenda. I have attempted, and failed, many times at a transformation in the way my family eats. I could never understand why the attempts I was making were not working, but I was determined to figure out a solution.
After much analyzing I came to the realization that the method I was using, which included disposing of all the processed foods in one clean sweep, was not working and would never work. My new plan of action was to gradually wean my family off of the processed junk we had in our pantry. I would not throw anything away, including the ice cream sandwiches, chips and whatever other delicious treats we possessed. I did make a conscious effort to lesson the amount of treats I was dispersing in bagged lunches and as desserts after dinner. I would allow these treats to naturally run out and just not replace them when they were gone.
Instead of giving a cup of ice cream every night after dinner, it now would include cut up strawberries or a banana, and they were able to choose the type of fruit, because I wanted the children to feel like they were in control. I would eventually switch from ice cream after dinner every night to only cut up fruit with a drizzle of chocolate sauce.
To my surprise, they love the change! My 5-year-old son loved helping me cut up our fruits on Sunday afternoons so that we would have fruit for the whole week. This was really working and it felt great.
Over the next several weeks I began creating a manual for how my family was going it eat. I complied a standard grocery list of ONLY unprocessed foods; to my amazement, I was actually spending less at the grocery store than before! What I realized was I had been buying both healthy foods and unhealthy food, which doubled my grocery bill each week. By cutting out the bad foods, I no longer had to play that halfway game between healthy and unhealthy; I had picked a side and I was committed to it.
Now let me just say that the most important thing to me was that my children were able to still enjoy sweets and treats in moderation: I didn't want these kids on a diet, I just wanted them to learn good eating habits from a young age.
We keep some processed foods in the house like microwaved popcorn, and sliced cheese for sandwiches, but all-in-all I'd have to say our processed food intake is cut by about 85 percent.
I feel great about taking control of the foods that I serve my children, and I've even lost a couple pounds along the way. I've found great solutions to easy and quick meals that contain vegetables and protein that my kids love. I make a lot more stir fry than I did in the past, and I'm in love with how easy it is to make. I also created a book with go to recipes I can grab for a quick meal that's not processed.
The empowerment of making a healthy change, and the realistic outlook, is what I believe will sustain this new healthy lifestyle. I would love to hear any advice about how to maintain this healthy path and any recipes!
About this blog: Julianne DeMartino lives in Southwest Connecticut with her two young children. She blogs about issues related to family and motherhood.