Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Conversations That Help

Last month I started a series called Conversations That Help. I realize that the decision to journey towards health is a big one, with many bumps, changes, frustrations, etc. along the way. After starting out with this post with my friend, Whitney, I heard feedback for the need for more "conversations". Just regular people trying to make better decisions.

This Conversation was with Ruth Allen Bryant. I recently met Ruth Allen at my church. She is a young wife and mother of three children: Caroline (4), John Robert (2), Bo (6 mos.)...three under 5! She gives some amazing advice and packs in a ton of tips for all you moms out there. She has also been a great resource for me, in helping me budget better. For example, she let me know that you could catch a steal on Wild Caught fish from cheaper chain grocery stores like Aldi! I hope you enjoy part of her families story towards being healthier and her wisdom about making it happen within a tight budget.LinkThis pic was taken pre-Bo (baby :)

(My questions/ comments are in bold and her responses are in regular type.)

What was the motivation or inspiration for you wanting to change your own/ your families eating habits?

I took a class in college that taught me a lot about healthy eating habits. I started looking at things differently after that class. (For example, I learned that something marketed as "low fat" typically had more sodium or sugar than the full fat version.) I realized from that class that I wanted to be well informed on what I was actually buying at the grocery store. Now several years later, I have 3 young children and I realize that now is the time to get extreme. If I decided "no more sugar" when my children were older it would be much tougher than cutting it out now! Even though it is hard with a full family and a crazy schedule, I decided to make cooking our meals a high priority.

What was the first thing you did to take that first step towards a healthier lifestyle?

I think the first thing I did was
I learned a lot about reading ingredient labels and I set certain standards for our family. If I don't like the ingredients, I don't buy it.

What has been the hardest thing to change or hardest part for you so far?

The hardest thing is trying to figure out how to budget, it is expensive to feed a family my size the way I want to. And I do love sweets, so staying away from sugar away from home is hard for me. (Not as hard when I am at home because I do not buy it and I can make an alternative dessert.)

Ahh, budgeting and being healthy. Sometimes those two seem like enemies! But you do it with three small kids, to boot. Any budgeting tips for moms?

OK- the bad news is you have to go to more than one grocery store. It is highly inconvenient and takes A LOT of planning. Here are some tips:
  1. Keep your receipts from different trips to various stores. Take time to compare prices of items you will purchase regularly. Compare notes with friends. Make a list of what to buy where. And grab those coupons in the front of the store at Whole Foods.
  2. Keep track of how long an item will last around your house. Especially if it is an item that you buy in bulk or an expensive ingredient (i.e. sea salt, stevia, dates, flax, etc..) Try not to run out of those all in the same week!
  3. Prioritize! For us, good meats and good oils are first. Then we try and buy our fruits and veggies organic. I do love my "clean fifteen" and "dirty dozen" produce list that the environmental working group puts out. (You can find it online here. Keep it in your purse, pulled up on your phone- just keep it accessible!)
  4. Cook! I cook ALL the time. We rarely go out to eat. I even try to make most of our dressings and sauces, etc. Cooking is fun, saves money and you know what you are eating! Kids can help too. Caroline (oldest daughter) makes our salads (shreds lettuce, adds veggies, etc.) She always makes hers twice as big as her daddy's!
  5. Make that chicken go far! We are BIG eaters, but I have several meals that I can make using just two chicken breast. (Thai curry meal, chicken kabobs w/ lots of veggies in between, chicken fried brown rice, grilled chicken salad etc..) Or cook a whole chicken and eat on it several times.
  6. Find a farmer that will sell you grass fed beef directly. Don't pay more than $6 a pound! We got 20 lbs. this weekend from Carnesville, Ga (we have family there) for $5.20/lb. I have friends who are getting better deals than that. You can check websites like Eat Wild, etc. to find these people. We do not even have an extra freezer. (We just put it where the ice cream or frozen pizzas and waffles should go.)
  7. Make your husband learn to hunt. Mine still has not, but my dad knows how. Venison and wild turkey are ideal sources of meat. See if you can find someone to kill for you and pay the processing fee. (Or you could cut it up yourself...) This is a great way to go! Can't find a hunter? Contact a local processor and ask if you can buy any leftover venison. Seriously, it is lean and has the ideal omega ratios. I made venison lettuce wraps last night and we LOVED them.
  8. Plant a garden. You can do it. Kids think it is great. Plant peppers, they are expensive and need to be organic. Plant strawberries. I didn't but I should have!
  9. This is new to me, but you can make your own cleaning supplies, laundry and dish detergents, etc. It saves money and ensures that the products you use are non-toxic. My mom just started doing this. It will be my next step. There is ALL kinds of info online.
I loved that you talked about connecting with farms and hunting...the cheapest way to get good clean meat :) Although, you have to know a hunter...or a farmer. But that is easily fixed! (If you don't, check out Eat Wild, like Ruth Allen suggested, or Local Harvest to see if there is a meat processor or supplier near you.) I also love how you have your daughter involved in the food preparation- even at four years old. Cooking together and preparing meals as a family is such a lost pastime. I hope more are encouraged to do the same with their children. What have been the benefits you have seen along the way from making all of these choices?

My children are awesome eaters! We have noticed our pants fit nicely, too.

I know a lot of moms wonder about their kids still being good eaters around other kids who eat differently, like "will my child notice they have a healthier lunch?" or "will they want the not-so-healthy snacks that their friends have" etc. How do you typically handle those situations?

This is hard. All you have to do is leave the walls of your house and they are bombarded! We go to the pediatrician and what are they handed when we leave? A piece of colored sugar and corn syrup on a stick. It is sad. I'm quite a sucker myself so instead of saying "no thanks, come children let's go home and get some carrots", I just start praying that sucker will fall in the dirt on the way to the car. At home I can control what they eat and teach them what is best for us, so I do. I do the best I can when we are out. I try to have snacks from home with me. As far as lunches go... So far my 4 year old is happy if I let her help pack her lunch. She will tell me what her other friends bring, and we sometimes try to do a healthy version. I always try to make sure her lunch has her favorite healthy things. Right now I just rest in the fact that MOST of the time they are eating well.

It sounds like you give them a good healthy base with which your kids can stretch the limits of every now and then with minimal damage done :) I think that is so important; it is easy for us to get caught up in being superwoman or supermom and protect them from any possible HFCS treat or processed pudding snack. (In thinking of becoming a mom, this prospect has gotten to me and I have totally been caught up in that struggle... can you tell?) But I appreciate your perspective on just making sure you do what you can when you have control over what they are eating. And also praying that the bad stuff falls in the dirt helps too :)

Anything extra- advice you feel would be helpful for others like you?

I asked God to show me how he wants me to feed my family, to give me a plan. There is a lot of info out there, and many decisions to make. (meat or no meat, dairy or no dairy, etc!) God will show you what's right for your family.

Thanks for mentioning that about your clarity coming from God in a world of SO MANY health crazes/ options. It is comforting for me to know that I am not as big as He is, and He does help us so much along the way!

I think God will honor the fact that we are trying our best to make good choices for the body he gave us. Even if we do get it wrong sometimes, because we will!

If you want to share some of your life experience with making healthier choices, please email me at pumpkinspantry (at) gmail (dot) com.

1 comment :

  1. Loved this conversation! I have one little one (2 1/2 years old).. and it's important to me that she eats healthy. I don't stress too much about being somewhere else, and she eats something not so good for her, because I know 95% of the time she is getting healthy food!

    We started a small container garden for the summer.. and I can't wait to get some good stuff! And, yay.. we planted peppers! They are my daughter's favorite veggie, and you're right.. they are so expensive!


Powered by Blogger.
Blogger Template By Designer Blogs