June 1, 2010

You Are What You Eat

I watched Food Inc. a couple of months ago. While watching it, I cried three times and sometimes had a hard time breathing. To say that it was life-changing would be a big fat understatement. And thus I think that everyone should watch it. So get to it!

Nutrition has become insanely important to me. During my pre-Chuckles days, I pretty much ate whatever I wanted. As a kid, I enjoyed sodas, candy, and fast food on a regular basis. So I grew into an adult who enjoyed sodas, candy, and fast food whenever I wanted. I had no incentive to change my habits because I have been, for the majority of my life, one of those lucky people who doesn't gain weight easily. It's not that health reasons aren't enough to make someone care about eating healthfully, but let's face it - in this shallow society, vanity trumps all.

Enter the cutest baby ever, Chuckles, and I began to rethink everything that I knew about food. I knew from the start that I didn't want to give him any jarred baby food because hello! That shit is nasty. I knew that for practical reasons (having to taste test the baby food to make sure it's okay) I was going to have to give him something that I would eat, too. And plus I was just really drawn to making his baby food. So when it was time to start him on solids, we went to the farmer's market, where we picked out all kinds of fun fruits and veggies for him to try. His first solid food was avocado, and it's still one of the staples of his diet. Charlie is an amazing eater, and he will devour whatever's put in front of him.

Purees are really only the beginning of what a baby can eat - and as Charlie has eaten more and more finger foods, it's become apparent to me that in order for kids to eat healthy, their parents need to eat healthy, too. You can't really say, "You can't have a soda, sweetie" as you're slurping your Big Gulp. It just doesn't work like that.


Even though I know that my kid's future depends on my/our modeling good habits for him, it is so, so hard to eat healthy. Food is such a strong addiction. I have made leaps and bounds in improving my diet in the past year, especially since finding out I'm pregnant again. But I still love my soda and my cookies and my candy. And I suck at eating vegetables.

I am convinced that our society of quick fixes, rushing around, and being "productive" has left us too tired to really think about what we're feeding ourselves. We have blindly put our trust into the "food institution" and most of us are overweight/fat/unhealthy as a result. And sadly, I see overweight kids everywhere. The last time I was at the mall, I saw a 3-year-old in her stroller munching on Cheetos and drinking a soda. I honestly try not to judge parents' choices, but when I saw that, I just couldn't help but think, "Really?! You've got to be kidding me."

And I get it, really. It's hard to always be prepared, to always have healthy snacks on hand, not to mention all the other crap you've got to carry around when you have a kid. I don't know the circumstances behind the choice that kid's parents made that day. Maybe they were completely out of money and that's all they had in the house. I don't know. I try to give parents the benefit of the doubt, but it is hard sometimes, especially when their choices are straight-up bad for their kids.

I'm not a food nazi by any stretch of the imagination. I don't mind if Charlie has a treat on a special occasion, but no way will I get him started on the habit of drinking juice every day or eating preservative-filled cookies/crackers/etc. for snack time every day. He can have a nice unhealthy piece of cake at a birthday party, but he can't have it just because dessert comes after dinner. I don't want to say "I will never" because you never know what you'll do as a parent. I will say this, though, that I hope that someone will slap me silly if I become one of those parents who hits the drive-thru every day - just as I hope for the same slap if I start to pack on the pounds.

(Please don't slap me if I gain 30 pounds between now and November, though.)

So yeah, nutrition is one of my big parenting passions. I don't want Charlie to grow up like me, with an addiction to unhealthy foods. I want him to have a healthy relationship with his food. One year in, I know he's on the right track. As for me, I will keep making my slow transition to eating better. I'll just have to keep reminding myself that eating healthy is just as important as quitting smoking. I quit that cold turkey, so I know I can make even more positive dietary changes.


dapotato said...

my mom fed us pretty healthily growing up. because i was deprived, i went nuts in college thanks to the unlimited desserts at the dining halls.

BUT because i was exposed to lots of healthy foods at a young age and not allowed to be picky (had to at least try everything once), i do like a lot of healthy foods and an open to trying new things.

i think it's great that you're making an effort for charlie, though. i worked with a lower-neighborhood on a community farm they're trying to get going, and the stats they had on their fresh-food-deprived neighborhood are so scary and sad.

phairhead said...

ARGH! It drives me crazy when I see clients give their kids a snack of Kool Aid and Oreo's.

I've given up all soda, yeehaw!

amber said...

I could get up on a soapbox about this for hours. Since it's your blog though and not mine, I'll keep it short. ;) I think it's great that you are trying to model the good behaviors you want Charlie to have. I also love that you make his food - something I plan to do if we have kids (I agree, the jarred stuff is pretty icky.) I feel like I've finally gotten a handle on my relationship with food and I can only hope that the good habits I'm building now can be passed on to our kids.

Anamika said...

HUZZAH! Go Leslie! I love this post a lot. Please pass on my props to your hubby for backing you up on this. I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have a partner who doesn't exactly see eye to eye on it with you.