I’ve never been a resolution person, but I do think there is value in self-assessment and realizing both the positives you’ve accomplished and areas that need improvement. Notice I didn’t say negatives. Last year I wrote about my family’s quest to cut out processed foods. And though I feared daggers would be sent through my computer, the exact opposite happened. What I learned is that, as in my case, making this change is not an overnight thing for most. It takes time, and it may mean sometimes taking two steps forward and one step back. Maybe even a few times.
With that being said, I want to share some of the changes we’ve encountered, and also where my family still needs improvement. I don’t know that we’ll ever be 100% (my guess is we’re now about 90% of the way there), but I do know that we’ve made progress since last year. And I’d love to share some our recent accomplishments.
Positive changes we’ve made…
- Incorporating not just one, but at least two fruits and/or vegetables at every meal
This is a pretty big one for us. While my plate is almost always full with vegetables, I encourage my kids to add a little bit more at every single meal. I make sides to include ample choices to make this easier.
- Baking even more
My youngest children (ages 3 and 6) absolutely love cooking with me, and I love the bonding time. Plus it’s a win-win since I can pack many of our creations in their lunches. So it has been fun to take time out for this one!
- Snack time changes
I actually see two sides here. I would forever let my kids choose their own snacks after school. They would get these little stainless bowls and head to the pantry to make a selection. This (school) year, I decided that we’d all have the same thing. And that would include a piece of fruit along with it, as opposed to just a bowl of pretzels, etc. I mentioned seeing two sides: I value letting them make their own selection, so I hate to take that away. But I also value guidance, and thus, many snacks will now include maybe one of the items that we baked (muffins, etc.) along with fruit. Or popcorn and carrots + hummus. I often let them help choose what they want for us all to have for snack in trying to get the best of both worlds.
- Upped our organics
Last year I was opting for organics. Now I’ve made it a priority. On a very rare occasion I’ll buy conventional, only if I absolutely need it and organic is not available. In this case I’ll follow the Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen charts.
- Go for green
This has never been an issue for me; I’m one of those who could eat spinach/kale/etc. salads for every meal. But for my kids, having it appear on their plate or in their lunchbox multiple times a week has been a positive change I’m proud of. I’ve also added in the occasional green smoothie, which has gone over pretty well for the kids, and great for me.
- Getting serious about sugar
So I’m not sure if I was truly honest in my story last year …I think I was actually addicted to sugar. Yes, an addict. And after seeing Fed Up, I knew I needed to make a change. I walked out of the movie knowing it wouldn’t be easy, but I’m so proud to say I’m in SUCH a better place now. I do have an occasional piece of dark chocolate or a few dark chocolate-covered almonds, but the best news is that I don’t crave it anymore. If I’m assessing positives, I really have to say this was a huge hurdle for me.
And now for the areas that still need work.
Still a work in progress…
- Pitching the processed peanut butter
That sneaky JIF Natural seems to be my forever obstacle. I’ve purchased numerous organic peanut butters, almond butters, etc. but my husband and kids simply prefer this one. Not to mention that at the rate we go through it, I’d need a second job just to pay for the little bottles they come in. I’m afraid this one is not going away soon, but I will keep trying.
- Chucking the cereal
Trust me, I’ve tried making granola. I’ve tried numerous recipes. My kids just don’t like it. So instead, I try to get cereals with the least/best ingredients. So be it.
- Going big at home
With a large family, I can’t seem to keep leftovers on hand. I am good about doubling recipes for muffins, breads, pizza dough and such, but I don’t often double entrees/meals, which I know can be such a lifesaver. The freezer can be a great friend in times of need, and I need to get better in this area.
- Banning the bars
I know there are good choices out there. Two of my four like LARABARS, and the same two like Simple Squares and Raw Crunch Bars – I like all three. But the older ones love an occasional Clif Bar and I have been known to have a Think Thin here or there – please don’t throw those daggers. I know, I know, it’s so far from real food, but like I said – we are crawling along in this department.
One of the biggest challenges for many of us is that this is now a group effort … so no matter how badly you want this to happen, you really need other members of your household to “buy in,” so to speak, right? I’ve had a few other really cool things happen in our family that I need to acknowledge this year.
Unexpected changes …but I’ll take them!
- My kids selectively choosing to throw out a juice box/fruit snacks they got in goody bags because of their ingredients. Hallelujah!!!
- My kids also choosing to throw out candy from parties and Halloween that contained food dyes. It’s true – keep saying it over and over. They actually do listen!!
- My husband shopping for organics. Now this just melts my heart. I was away twice last year without the family. Both times he grocery shopped at Earth Fare (in lieu of the numerous other closer stores) and purchased organic produce. This made my day!
- My whole family attending the movie Fed Up with me, and also watching GMO OMG with me. Without any whining, and actually learning from the films.
Wherever you are in the process, I promise every step counts. I encourage you to take stock of the changes you’ve made over time. Look back to where you were and how far you have come. Last year I had someone comment that she was only 10% of the way there … but you know what, you have to start somewhere. I’d love to hear about the changes that you’ve made and ones that you aim to make, too.