I'm currently reading Simple Food for Busy Families. I'm about half way through it. It's a pretty common sense book for anyone who has spent any sort of time already researching whole foods and diet and nutrition. Yet, I still like it. It breaks things down in a very simple, easy to understand way. And even though I already know much of the information, it's really been a fabulous refresher course.
And a SAD awakening. Although I've seen it happening, although I'm the one who's most in control of our diet and food purchases and preparations - and even though I sort of pride myself on eating a mostly whole foods diet - the truth is, we haven't been.
Slowly but surely over the last several months, we have become a typical family eating a Standard American Diet.
As I was reading the list of Imbalances Caused by the SAD Lifestyle - I found myself check off almost all of them for myself, and many of them for my children and husband. Well, crap.
Now I of course have a million reasons why. Pregnancy induced laziness (haha), pregnancy food aversions, exhaustion from working long days - now coupled with my husband student teaching and working just as long days, the winter blahs, lack of fresh foods. This list of all very good and very valid excuses could go on and on.
And if someone like me, who does usually strive for a whole, local, fresh foods approach can slip this badly - is it any surprise that so many busy American families end up reaching for a frozen or fast food meal for so much of their nourishment? The truth is that it's quick, easy, and as much as I hate to admit it - tastes darn good!
That list of excuses is not good enough. The reasons that I, along with so many other families, reach for processed foods is not good enough.
We deserve better. Our children deserve better. Now, more than before I need to be eating better as I am the sole source of nourishment for this fetus. I don't imagine babies thrive on a steady diet of soda and sour patch kids (my currant addictions).
So why in the world am I craving these foods when they have no nutritional value? When I haven't indulged in these foods in years? I don't know. I have no idea what my body could be needing that's leading me to crave french fries. Sodium? What I do know, is the more I indulge in these foods - the more I want them. And that's the tricky part of a SAD lifestyle. Breaking the cycle.
Making that especially difficult right now, is the fact that it's February in New York. Which means even at our local farmers market - the offerings are slim. Stored potatoes and apples pretty much sums up what is available in way of fruits and veggies. I have a few packages of frozen corn, peppers and zucchini left from last summer and quite a few berries hidden in the freezer.
My mind is already on April and asparagus. But, the rest of me is still here in the middle of winter. Realizing a few weeks ago that we were on a roller-coaster of bad diet choices - I bought some lettuce at the big grocery from who knows where. No one ate it. Who wants a salad in February? I know we should be having salad but there's a reason our bodies want heavier foods - soups, stews, casseroles.
I guess the answer here is to try and eat as naturally and seasonally as possible, even in the dead of winter. Use what is stored. Oats, grains, canned sauces and frozen fruits. I can still get fresh dairy and meat at the market.
There's no reason to turn to frozen store bought pizza and Doritos just because it's hard to get excited about food in the middle of winter.
By now everyone (at least in my family) is sick of heavy foods. Even though our big grocery offers anything you could want ("fresh strawberries"?!) it doesn't mean that we should be eating them. And they're never as good as June strawberries - or even the ones pulled from the back of the deep freeze and added to some yogurt.
I guess the trick here is to keep plugging along. Stop making excuses to eat out. Stop coming up with the cash to let the kids buy lunch. Start listening to your body. Even if you're stuck in a sort of limbo between craving fresh vegetables and turning your nose up at bland grocery vegetables, realize this is the end - Spring is coming. So keep on moving on. Find new soups to make. Bake a fresh loaf of bread.
There are still so many nourishing foods we can eat, even in a cold New York winter. Stop fretting about your kids vegetable intake. Sometimes eating seasonally and locally means that your body doesn't get everything all the time. Do the best you can and trust that in a few short months you'll be stuffed to the brim with fresh, vibrant, full of life vegetables in fruits.
And stop buying sour patch kids!