My husband and I both struggled with our weight growing up. Even now, you probably won’t see either of us on the cover of some sports magazine any time soon. Over the past few years, we have both been consistently losing weight together by making some changes in our lifestyle. We never ate too terribly in the past. We just didn’t always make the “better choice” or always adhere to good portion control. And in all honesty, we still don’t always do those things. But we have made attempts for our children to become healthier versions of ourselves. Neither of us has expectations to be world athletes or swim suit models, but we have expectations to raise our children in a home were eating well is both good for us and delicious.
My children are bottomless. Seriously, they could eat their weight in food most days. Our older two children, 4-year-old Caiden and 2-year-old Kynsleigh, absolutely love produce. Really, they love all food. But some of their favorite foods are fruits and veggies. Don’t get me wrong, they also like “junk” type foods, but being out of “insert their favorite fruit of the day’ has been enough to cause all out fits of hysterical tears in the past.
When did it become so expensive to feed ourselves, and these little human beings that I created, healthy choices vs the processed stuff you can find for next to nothing in stores? Why is buying a container of Caiden’s favorite, blueberries, which are nearly $4 most times of the year that will last approximately 2.5 seconds at snack time, the “expensive” option vs buying a box of cookies for $1.50 that could last for a week worth of snacks. And the kid would prefer blueberries over a cookie any day.
Growing up and struggling with my weight made me a very determined mother. From the minute my children came screaming into this world, I’ve really strived to give them the best nutrition possible. Don’t all parents strive for the same thing? We all just want what is best for our kids. I got those babies nursing as soon as possible. I nursed Caiden and Kynsleigh longer than the “norm” of this area in efforts to give them a great start. This wasn’t only beneficial to them by helping to lower their own odds of catching illnesses, dealing with childhood obesity, asthma, childhood cancers, etc., but it was also great for me. Did you know that on average, a woman burns 20 calories per ounce of milk she makes? Between nursing our youngest and our revised eating habits, I’ve managed to lose 50 pounds since having Connor 4.5 months ago.
I also introduced veggies first, in attempts to keep a possible “sweet tooth” from encouraging them to dismiss their veggies later on. I cook most nights in our home and we try and limit the processed food. Does this make me some kind of supermom? Absolutely not. I do this for myself mostly. I do this because of my own personal struggle with weight. Whatever works for you and your children is absolutely fine with me. Motherhood is often times turned into this “tear each other apart” type of competition. That’s not where this is going at all. I’ll get back on track.
We love to cook as a family. We love to eat together. Food is often what brings people together. Food can be such a huge part of living. It not only nourishes us physically, but it can do a little bit of nourishing emotionally as well. I know you’ve all heard the term “comfort food.”
Buying the amount of fruits and veggies that we do for our family of five can really add up. Over the past couple of months, we’ve been taking part in something called “Bountiful Baskets”. Let me just say, it is amazing. We pay $15 (plus a processing fee of $3.50) for a basket of 50% fruit and 50% veggies. You never know what you are going to get. For some people, this is a turn off. For me, a culinary adventurous type, this provides a new challenge each time we get a basket (which is every week), to see what I can come up with provided with what we get in our baskets. This week some of the things we got in our basket included avocados, beautiful roma tomatoes, lots of small yellow-skinned potatoes, bananas, nectarines, mangoes, fresh corn, grapefruits, and more. Additionally, you can choose “add on” type boxes. These can be anything from a “salad pack,” “Italian themed pack,” or “Grill pack” type boxes to bread items. Let me tell you, we bought a “Wrap pack” a few weeks ago for $12.75. It included 4 types of tortilla wraps, ten of each flavor. These are preservative free; “good for you” type options. I can’t wait to buy them again when they become available! Those inspired me. I made tons of grilled chicken wraps, loaded with fresh veggies. We love taking those wraps on park outings and zoo trips for great picnic lunches and the kids love choosing what veggies go into their wrap. Some other things I did with them were egg and veggie burritos and steak fajita and veggie wraps for dinner.
We pick up our baskets on Friday night. Recently, pick up time has been changed to 8 p.m. This is pretty late for my children but they absolutely love going and seeing what we get in our basket each week. I cook dinner and we have bath time. My husband and I dress them in their PJs and we make the drive to our pick up location. They wait in the van with their Daddy while I go get this week’s offering! The fun part is getting everything home. As soon as we walk through the door, the real excitement begins as Caiden and Kynsleigh “help” unload everything. Digging through that giant box of produce is like Christmas morning for those kids. Can you imagine, these two little people squealing and holding up each and every piece of produce and exclaiming with excitement things like “Mommy! Look! It’s bluberries” or “Mommy, these are tomatoes! I don’t like them this way. But if you cook them, I like them!”
Last night for dinner, we made homemade pizzas. I cut all of the veggies (and some pineapple) into pieces and spread them out on paper plates and let the kids go to town decorating their pizzas. They had so much fun spreading colorful bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and spinach onto their pizzas. On a night where a small slice of pizza would be plenty, those two kids ate multiple pieces each. Getting them involved made a world of difference. It got them excited for their food and it was a great family moment for us to spend time together doing something fun.
I was asked to write about “life.” To me, “life” centers around my family. And because my kids are still little, much of my time revolves around, “Mommy, I’m starving.” Keeping my family healthy is a huge priority to me. It is my job, for myself and my children, to provide healthy meals that fuel our bodies, provide us with delicious options, and having fun while doing it. I don’t want my kids to remember “Oh man. Mom was always such a stickler on what we ate.” Instead, I want them to remember “Man! Remember all of those awesome things Mom made for us growing up? Remember the pizzas? Remember the grilled chicken and veggie wraps she made each time we went to the zoo?” I want to live for my kids, and this includes living a healthier lifestyle, and I want them to have a great start to life because of the choices I help them make now.