Today, I’m just feeling overwhelmed with gratitude. I feel like this group and these meal plans have held my hand, showed me a different way of doing something that I thought was impossible, and given me a path forward.
I was raised by a single mom, who did the best she could, but always used food to cope. As a teenager, I remember teaching myself to cook because usually my mom was so exhausted our dinner came from a drive thru. In high school, Del Taco had $0.39 green burritos and I honestly remember eating those for dinner every night for at least a year. If it wasn’t burritos, it was burgers and fries, pizza. Sunday, usually, my mom would cook a roast with potatoes or spaghetti and dessert. But weekdays, it was almost always fast food. There were ramen noodles, frozen corndogs, and frozen dinners sometimes.
We were all overweight. We went to the bakery thrift store and would load up on cheap sugary cakes and snacks. She never taught us how to binge eat to manage our emotions, but we knew it was there and learned by example.
I’m not trying to criticize or blame, but changing things you’ve learned over a lifetime is not an easy task. Beyond the learning and understanding part, the emotional part is there and old habits are hard to extinguish.
As a young adult, I didn’t have any clue how to change these things. I tried, but always associated healthy eating or losing weight with hunger and deprivation. And that was never sustainable for me. I would diet, fail, feel like a failure, and go back to crappy eating.
I don’t force my kids at all, but I do control our food environment. There are always healthy options, but if they want to make an effort, they can cook something non-Whole Food Plant Based No Oil. We have things leftover from when we ate that way, and I don’t stop them or discourage them. Once it’s gone, I won’t buy any more. They have their own debit cards and allowance and can choose to buy junk food if they want, within their allowances.
But y’all….it brings me so much joy when my 13 year old son chooses to eat toficken tacos for dinner….enjoys spinach and green onions and hummus. When the kids fight over the other half of my avocado. When they eat nuts and seeds as snacks.
When our fruit bowl is empty and they ask, “Mom, can you go to the store and get more bananas and oranges?” When my 4 year old comes to me before bedtime and rationalizes why she needs to eat the extra pear because it’s gonna make her have strong muscles. Last night, my 14 year old daughter asked me if she could just make a plain batch of farro for breakfast, then when I said yes, she exclaimed, “yesssss!” Grapes are a prized treat, not a bag that stays in the fridge until they are soggy enough for the compost. Between the 6 kids and myself, we have gone through 4 big bags of grapes in the past 2 weeks.
I know this has only been accomplished by eliminating (or greatly reducing) the crappy foods. Because when our cupboards are stuffed with Cheetos and Oreos, grapes and avocados just don’t have the same appeal.
Yeah, the kids still choose to eat pizza at school sometimes. And they ask to get a Happy Meal when we drive by the golden arches. Usually I tell them we have something yummy planned at home, but sometimes I give in. But it’s less and less often.
But I am learning new things every day. Learning and practicing and growing. There’s no need to choke down a dry salad because sprinkling a little coconut aminos and balsamic make it better than a “Happy Meal.” And eating crappy food makes me feel good for a minute, but makes my body feel crappy in the long run.
This week I batched #Ambrosia and it’s maybe the first week we’re on track to eating all the food from the batch without anything going to waste. The kids are losing their hesitancy. Everything has been devoured. Sure, none of the kids are lining up to snack on bell peppers or raw cabbage, but I wouldn’t rule it out in the near future. Horizons are expanding and new patterns are being learned. Generational curses are being broken, one recipe at a time.
I’m just amazed and grateful for this resource. In a way, shopping and prepping and batching and eating the meals every day feels like being re-parented in the area of food, which is such a big part of families and culture. I tell everyone I know and some of them even listen. I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so empowered because there is not one thing in this life more important than health.
Super sappy post, but this is what I’m feeling today.