I remember it all too clearly, the unhealthy life I used to live. My first baby, Max, was born with food allergies to dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame and avocado, I was crippled. I became that helicopter parent I never wanted to be. I hovered over his every meal and playdate. I had do, it was about survival.
He was allergic to the touch of these food groups. An innocent vanilla latte that would leave a stain on my lips, would result in hives on his cheek if I kissed him. Those first years as a first time mom, were full of anxiety. He had a silent challenge, and I felt really overwhelmed.
During those early years, everything was about HIS nutrition. And I bet, you worry about your kids intake 1000% more than yours!!! It is natural to do so!! For us, we were elated when we could find "safe" food for him. Did you know Oreos were vegan? Yup! No eggs and no dairy...it was the "treat" he would get at birthday parties because we couldn't expose him to any traditional pastries. I have to admit, I was an AWFUL vegan baker despite my culinary school training lol! So, you bet I had a stash of Oreos on hand at all times.
For those years, my husband and I were more worried about finding meals for him, then meals for us. We would only dine out at our go-to places. The peruvian place down the street, the plain korean tofu soup, and luckily Vietnamese pho was always on rotation. When our daughter was born, I had PTSD giving her her "first foods" worried that she too, would land in the Emergency Room like her brother. I had created these sheets that I had copies of, to hand to each waiter to give to the head chef in the kitchen at restaurants because I needed to be confident that we wouldn't be served foods that would end my sons life. Yup, it was intense.
Looking back, I think I could have handled this better. Are you balancing your needs as much as your kids needs? Instead of focusing JUST on his dietary needs, it would have been ok to look at what I was eating. I would eat leftovers, which all parents do. But there was no balance, I wasn't part of the equation. I would make him fried rice with filet mignon and broccoli, and I wouldn't dare have any because any successful nutrient rich meal for him needed to go a long way.
It wasn't until Max was 4 years old, that I *finally* started paying attention to what I ate. Before that, I would graze on spicy hot cheetos or Maui Onion chips as a meal when I was on the run and frequent In N Out way too often. Fun fact, In N out has a special allergy menu and process for kiddos like Max! I became an expert on safe fast good, not going to Chick Fil-A because they used peanut oil, and no McDonald's fries because they use milk protein to give their fries that extra taste!
I am happy to report that he has outgrown nearly all his food allergies but one. And that made life so much easier. The day he could drink whole milk and real pizza (less than a year ago) was like my world CHANGED. I tell ya, the sky was even bluer and the birds were chirping louder. We have been elated to see his diet become so much easier to navigate.
In January 2018, I found Whole 30, and it completely transformed my life. This is part one of my journey in sharing how eating real food somehow also made me a better wife, mom, friend, business owner...you name it.
You don't have to be like me, and not put your dietary needs on the back burner, mama. PROGRESS OVER PERFECTION. I wish I had tools or a system to make it feasible for me to eat and nourish my body as much as I nourished his.
Don't wait 4 years or 10 years and only focus on your kids dietary and nutritional needs. You also sit at the dining room table, and you deserve to have food nourish you just the same.
Here are some simple ways you can start out eating healthier:
1) Cut out sodas, switch to La Croix (which is hilarious because I used to HATE this stuff!)
2) Decrease or eliminate refined sugar
3) Increase food and vegetable intake
4) Consider Meatless Mondays
5) Recipe Swap with a local friend. Trade healthy meals so you can have new meals in your rotation.
6) Keep healthy snacks on hand. Almonds, plantain chips are great for that salt fix. Guacamole and hummus are far better than ranch dressing and cheese sauce at parties! I love RX Bars.
7) Swap out rice and pasta for cauliflower rice or spaghetti squash
8) Swap your coffee creamer to sugar free non-dairy creamer like Nutpods (whole30 approved).
9) Stock up on Raos Pasta Sauce! This stuff is LIFE!! You don't have to add any flavoring to it!
10) Consider a meal delivery like Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Martha and Marley Spoon. I have tried all of them. The tip is to read the directions 3 times before you start and that will DRAMATICALLY decrease your time busting out the recipe. If you are in California or Phoenix, you can get Model Meals (Whole30 meal delivery, use code Avenue Mama for $25 off).
Tell me in comments, what you will start doing immediately!
Remember, you are a member at the dinner table and your needs also need to be met!