Thursday, January 19, 2012

Healthy or not?


So, I found out I don't have any problems with gluten.  Ah, thank goodness, right?  That's great because I love bread and making gluten-free bread seems like it takes a lot more effort, maybe because I'm not used to it?

In our homeschooling today, we focused a lot of healthy foods.  I pulled out some old magazines and had the kids go to town snipping out pictures of different kinds of foods.  Then they sorted through them making a stack of "horrible", "okay every now and then", and "super healthy".

We looked all sorts of foods on the internet by entering "health benefits of _____" (strawberries, pineapples, almonds, etc) in Google, or checking out the ingredient list of different boxes products.  The kids quickly realized that just because the box says it's a "good source of 5 essential vitamins and minerals" doesn't mean it's healthy!  And, the ad may have pictures of fresh fruit or vegetables surrounding the product, but that doesn't mean it's actually nutritious. 

It's really disappointing to see how we are being manipulated into buying certain products. If you take a glance at a can or box of prepackaged food, you may be fooled into believing it's good for you, especially if you see things like "NO MSG!" or "GLUTEN FREE!".  Maybe it states, "NATURAL!" or "Good source of ____!"   Many products now boast they have a "full serving of vegetables".  They don't want you to look on the side of the box where they list the ingredients, where some form of sugar falls first or second in line followed by all sorts of weird ingredients, food dyes, and artificial "tastiness".

One thing I taught my children several years ago was that "if God grew it, it's good" meaning if it's raw and man hasn't messed with it yet it's healthy for you.  Of course, I've had to explain how even raw fruits and vegetables can be unhealthy because of pesticides and chemicals, but we've also discussed how they're still healthier than processed junk. (Obviously I'm not encouraging my children to go chew on some poison ivy or the grass in the backyard. So don't hear what I'm not saying here!)

We've talked a lot about food dyes, artificial flavorings, etc in the past, so they seem to have a good understanding of what is in food.  They almost always go grocery shopping with me, so we often pull out a box or can of food and inspect the ingredient label. 

Today we solidified the lesson that raw, fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, and nuts are great for you. One thing we found every one of these foods had in common was that they are cancer preventatives and cancer fighters. I truly believe that one of the reasons why we see and hear of more people having cancer (and seeing more aggressive forms of cancers pop up) is because our diets are robbed of good nutrition. 

I truly believe that we need to educate ourselves and our children on what is truly healthy and what is not.  That isn't to say that you can't have a little diet splurge here and there (I totally love Shipley's Donuts and McDonald's fries), but we need to learn that these things aren't good for us... not even in "moderation".  See, people throw that word around. "It's okay to have this, as long as it's in moderation."  What is your definition of moderation?  Three times a day? Once a day?  Once a week? Once a month? Once every few months? Once a year?  And, if we say it's okay to have this group of things in moderation, does that mean I can have donuts for breakfast and Oreos for dessert on Monday, a stack of chocolate chip cookies and a big glug soda for snack on Tuesday, McDonald's on Wednesday, sugary cereal for breakfast and a Sonic slushy along with chili cheese fries on Thursday, followed by a few Taco Bell tacos for dinner and a handful of M&Ms on Friday?  I could legitimately say that I'm having each of those things in "moderation"!

I think one of the problems we have in society today is that we don't know what it is to sit down at the table as a family.  We're in a rush, and we rush here and rush there and rush to put a meal together, and ......  Well, you know how that goes. We've all been there! When I was nearing the end of my pregnancy with Evangeline, we moved to a different house.  Because of all the packing, moving, unpacking, etc... we ate a lot of to-go food.  And, we didn't really make great choices. We had a lot of nuggets, burgers, fries, and other junk for about two weeks.  One day, I told my husband, "I am so sick of this food. I feel like poo, and all I really want is a really big salad."  

I think we so often feel like when we're in a hurry, we don't have many options.  Maybe it's because the most obvious in-our-face options are the unhealthy ones.  They're the ones that draw us in.  However, I've found I can have a great, healthy salad or sandwich at Jason's Deli.  I can even get one to-go in a small amount of time.  Or, I can run in the grocery store and grab fixings for sandwiches and salads for much less, which would only take me about 5 minutes, rather than go through a drive-thru for burgers and fries.

Panera Bread, Corner Bakery Cafe, and  are all great health-food option.  If you can stop in for a sandwich, soup, or salad.  Also, I have noticed more and more grocery stores selling premade organic soups!

Chipotle and other healthy "burrito" joints are popping up everywhere.  Also, I am finding more raw food smoothie places around town.  Fruit smoothies, green smoothies, etc are more filling than you think, and you won't have that icky greasy-food hangover later.  You can also buy these in the grocery store (we love the brands Odwalla and Bolthouse Farms).... or make them at home, of course. My parents make fruit smoothies at home and freeze extras in portion sizes. My dad thaws them out the night before so he has one to drink on his way to work. Smart, right?

If you're trying to teach your children about healthy foods, I recommend going through old magazines, or even your own pantry.  Look up foods on the internet and explain why something is or isn't healthy. I really felt like we had a fruitful conversation today (pun not intended).  It's good to have these discussions often, not only to remind your children, but to remind yourself.

Here's a photo of me talking to the kiddos about why this picture has a lot of healthy goodness in it! We learned so much about the power of mint, pineapple, and strawberries!  (Apparently, I need to go get a good dose of Vitamin D by sitting out in the sun. Boy, am I pale! I feel there needs to be a disclaimer here: Person in picture is darker than appears.)

So, tell me about how you've taught your children about healthy foods (or how you plan to in the future)! 

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