Monday, August 14, 2017

The Good Food Fight

"The processed food industry has transformed our food into a quasi-drug. . . What happened is that cheap, calorie-dense foods that are highly rewarding to your brain are now ubiquitous.  Once you've had a glass of orange juice, you are not likely to be as satisfied with a healthier and less caloric orange that you have to peel. . . Although it's far easier said than done, just limiting exposure to high-calorie foods and recreational drugs would naturally reset our brains to find pleasure in healthier foods and life without drugs."

from  "What Cookies and Meth Have in Common" by Richard Friedman in the June 30 New York Times

Here we have roasted feta on homemade whole wheat sourdough toast, sprinkled with thyme from the front porch pots with a side of delectable cantaloupe and black coffee.   I am definitely finding pleasure in this breakfast.

But I am finding it hard to limit my my family's exposure to high-calorie foods in the general mayhem and party that is summer. One example: kids' meals at a barbeque joint served with 16-oz. sodas, even for Phoebe.  Of course, I didn't let them drink the whole things, but it takes vigilance and education to help them understand that glittering bottle. Sometimes, I am just tired of trying, but then I read an inspiring quote like the one above and push away the processed food. Fight the good food fight, everybody!


Tammy said...

I've read that your brain reacts the same to sugar as it does to cocaine. Which is so shocking. I try so hard to be vigilant about the amount of sugar my daughter consumes, but it is so hard! Sugar is very prevalent. When you start reading labels, everything has sugar dumped into it! It gets discouraging sometimes, because I don't always want to make everything from scratch!

Your breakfast toast looks so good!

PS I've been "no sugar" for 80+ days now. I feel so much better for not eating sugar. I know your post wasn't about sugar so much as convenience foods, but sugar fills so many of our convenience foods!

Hazel said...

And it gets even harder to control the children's food once they start becoming more independent. I deliberately avoided banning any particular foods or drinks to avoid a massive rebellion but they still eat and drink way too much rubbish because they can and because their friends do. I'm just hoping that staying constant at home will help the novelty wear off sooner.

Margo said...

Tammy, yes! I consider sugar the worst offender.

Hazel, I'm hoping to do things the same way as you do. I've seen this approach work well for my friends that have older kids. And for me, too! My parents fed us well at home and even though I went through a junky eating phase in my teens, it didn't last.

Becky said...

We do eat a little more junk food during the summer than throughout the rest of the year. I'm guilty of buying it just as much as it's available at cookouts and pot-lucks. There is also an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables, which we also eat in mass quantities, so I figure it all works out in the end. Everything in moderation, including moderation.

I have made sure my girl knows how to make good food choices and she understands the sugar in a soda and why I limit processed foods. In fact, she sometimes lectures me on my fascination with certain junk foods, like dill pickle flavored potato chips. When I fall off the real food train, I fall hard.

Juliana said...

My kids have a bit more processed food in the summer as well--mostly the crackers that we bring to the pool for the after-swim snack. I've found it helpful when we do eat out and sodas are offered that we just decline them and ask for water instead. My kids haven't really had soda (and only one of them likes carbonated water anyway) and I think it is easier not to get them accustomed to it for eating out. (It is also a good spur to me to avoid caloric beverages, especially when eating out too!)

That said, the lure is strong. I do find it helpful for myself to just avoid most processed things as a matter of course, as it retrains my palette to be satisfied with real foods. I've moved to a primal-ish diet in the last few months and the fat content is very high. I've found that replacing sugar with fat (and you can't have both!) has really helped with that. Fruit tastes much sweeter to me, and I've noticed that when I do have something processed, it either tastes fake to me, or is too salty or sweet.

Jenny said...

I love this quote you shared, and like you find statements like that to be encouraging and just what I need to read when I start to get a bit lazy in the food department. For us, the battle has become very real as my son has aged. He is 12 and I just can't police his diet as much as I used to -- from a practical standpoint and a plain old respect standpoint. We were strict when he was younger, and he had to avoid a lot of things because of a food dye allergy, retainer/braces and GERD; now that those are under control, he is rebelling. Like Hazel, I'm hoping the novelty soon wears off. My husband and I are always reminding each other of how we were as college students and newlyweds at 20. We've come a long way, and I'm hopeful that our son will too. These seeds were planted, and they will sprout and grow! I really, really hope that with a slightly more relaxed approach with our younger boy, that we might avoid some food rebellion. He also has severe allergies to egg and peanut butter, so that might help, too.

Anonymous said...

It is really hard, especially when they are younger and very susceptible to the ever-present flashy marketing. That said, it is important that we try our best to make good choices available at home(without beating ourselves up). It does pay off as they enter adolescence.

My now 12 yr old makes mostly good choices now that she has more and more autonomy and is out in social situations without Mom. She readily refuses much of what I would consider the "bad stuff" and opts for the more healthy alternative most of the time. Not because it was what she is supposed to do, but rather because she prefers the taste of real food. Don't get me wrong, she loves her sweets, but would much prefer a homemade muffin with blueberries from the yard to a pre-packaged, shelf stable pseudo food like ring-dings.

The thing that I found to be of most help is having her involved in the process from the start. We garden and she is a part of the planning, maintenance and harvesting. She begged me for beans last night because she had picked them herself. She is often part of the cooking process. She has an on and off again relationship with eggs, but when she makes them herself she always eats them all.

Basically if you make good choices for yourself and make good choices available, then even when away from home they will mostly chose well.

Polly said...

Roasted feta! I want in on that! My husband is vegan until the end of August (don't ask!) and after that, I'm buying some feta to roast. It looks delicious.

Definitely keep up fighting the good fight! My children tend to eat a few more processed things in summertime b/c it's easy to take quick snacks to the pool, but even then, I try to find minimally processed convenience foods such as Larabars, organic wheat crackers, and that kind of thing. I bake large batches of homemade oatmeal-peanut butter cookies, freeze them in baggies (6 to a bag) and take those to the pool. I also take frozen pumpkin muffins to the pool, plus cheese slices, for a good wholesome snack.

The only true bans I have are on high fructose corn syrup and soda. The former is bendable in cases of potlucks or events where I'm not going to police the ingredients; the latter is just a rule. (It's my rule too, to be fair--I don't drink soda, period.)

I'm not interested in junk food and I think that helps. We'll have tortilla chips occasionally with a Mexican meal, or potato chips w/ Sunday lunch (well, they do; I don't eat chips), but in general, junk food isn't part of our home life. That having been said, they TOTALLY ate leftover Domino's pizza for lunch today. So you know: balance. :)

Little Homestead In Boise said...

When we were raising our three girls it was really challenging trying to get them to eat fairly healthy with both of us working jobs full time. I always made sure we had a good big vegetable side dish and try to use as much whole grains as possible and I didn't allow soda in our home. At one point I also started keeping a picture of water on the table for lunch and dinner to encourage the girls to drink it. Which they did and they got used to that. They still had fruit juice and milk once in awhile but I really limited the heavy sugary drinks. I tried to make desserts from scratch as much as I could to at least eliminate a lot of additives and preservatives and we grew a lot of her own fruits and vegetables. Well it wasn't perfect our kids look back and think that they probably ate much much healthier than their friends did. I tried to have lots of fresh fruit and things like string cheese on hand for snacks after school and try to limit the junk food eating out. Well we did go to places like Red Robin for burgers on occasion that was not their normal eating mode. You do the best you can but try to figure it all out as you're able to. Nancy

BLD in MT said...

Ah, I hear you. I go in waves as sometimes the fight seems to hard, but yes, fight the good fight. It is, in the end, tastier anyways. I'm currently reading and re-reading some food related books--Wendell Berry, Michael Polan, and the like--to reinvigorate myself. Summer is hard. Junk food abounds! I don't really even buy it, but it shows up at every BBQ, potluck, meeting, movie, etc.

Good quote.


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