"Mommy, where do bunny snacks come from?"
"Well honey, they don't grow out of the ground like apples and strawberries. They come from a factory, actually."
I swallowed hard after admitting that to my toddler. It honestly kind of grossed me out. Why, when I have a refrigerator full of beautiful, fresh, organic fruit, do I choose to hand him the little aluminum packet of highly-processed food?
The answers are simple and familiar: convenience, the desire to avoid a battle, the "at least" argument (you know the one: "at least I'm not ordering at a fast-food restaurant right now" type of thinking).
But none of those answers are good enough. Not really. It's just as convenient to hand my son a whole apple (or strawberry or peach or carrot stick) as it is to rip open a bag of something. If I draw a line in the sand now, the battles will eventually subside, especially if whole foods are the only option in the house.
And the "at least" argument? You could use that to justify anything. I'm not saying don't give yourself grace. I'm not saying that transitioning from one habit to another is not a process. I'm not saying that you shouldn't genuinely pat yourself on the back when you make a better choice. What am I saying? Don't use this argument to justify what you know, deep down, isn't the best for you or your family.
As many of you know I've had to transition my diet over the last six months. I didn't choose to - I had to. Confession: I never would have done it otherwise.
That's not to say I haven't tried. I'm thirty-four, and I've tried lots over the years. Not fad diets. I'm not into fad diets (the closest I've ever come is Weight Watchers). In fact, to be really honest, I'm not even that concerned with weight. For me, food has always been about taking care of the body. I've just never known how to do it well.
I grew up in a house that was about as Southern as you could get; we regularly ate such goodies as biscuits and gravy, liver and onions, Tex-Mex enchiladas drenched in sauce, chicken fried steak, and more. Don't forget dessert: not a day went by when there wasn't something sweet sitting on the butcher's block waiting for me after school.
And that was just age zero to age nine, when my grandparents moved out. From that point forward, fast food became my friend. By the time I was fourteen, I was driving myself to Short Stop (a fast-food chain) every night for the same meal: cheeseburger, fries, and Diet Coke.
When I made it to college and had to cook for myself for the first time ever, my roommates just about lost it from laughter when they saw me trying to make a grilled cheese sandwich in the toaster.
You get the picture. Why am I telling you all of this? To make this point: we leave our children a food legacy, even when we're not trying to. On the opposite side of that coin, we have an opportunity to teach our children how to have a proper relationship with food, and, by extension, our own bodies and God as well. It has to start with us - our habits, our choices, our modeling.
That's why this transition has been so profound in my life. I've learned a lot (much of which I will share in the coming weeks), and I have much more to learn. I'm excited about the changes I see in my own being, but I'm most excited about how I am setting my kids up for a lifetime of healthy choices. I want them to be as healthy and whole as possible so that they can fully serve God wherever He leads them (and any definition of service must include the physical, as well as the mental, emotional, intellectual, spiritual).
So I hope you'll join me over the next several weeks. I am launching a series entitled Seven Steps to a Healthier Pantry. Please read, comment, share with your friends, and try out some of the ideas I put forth.
Like I said, I am relatively new at this. I can think of a dozen people right off the bat more qualified than I to write about healthy eating/living. But this series has been on my heart for months now. It won't go away, so I'm dutifully putting pen to paper, so to speak. I hope you glean something from it. I know I will learn from those of you who engage in the dialogue.