I was doing my regular weekly shopping at Costco, stocking up on some of our staples like fresh and frozen vegetables and fruit, free-range chicken broth, salmon, olives, pasteurized butter, honey, etc. The cashier commented on the “healthy food” that I was purchasing, and when I responded that my husband and I try very hard to feed our daughters (and ourselves) a diet rich in produce and nutritious protein and fats, she quickly asked in surprise if the girls like that “stuff”. “They absolutely love this food,” I said, equally surprised by the cashier’s astonishment that my kids enjoy real food, the way that it was meant to be consumed.
Now, of course my daughters are lured by sweets and fried food and all those ‘enticing’ packaged snacks, but I feel that to be giving them a diet filled with processed foods would not only be doing them a huge disservice now, but also setting them up for a lifetime of health issues. Many people in my generation are steadily learning about the ill effects of a poor diet, but they also feel as though “I ate all those foods, and look at me, I am fine.” Some of them (the genetically lucky) may very well be doing “fine,” but many of us are unaware of the association between the way we ate in our childhood and young adulthood and the health issues we are experiencing as we get older. It took me many many years of reading and researching and listening to my own body’s signals (and being very sick) to finally comprehend that I wasn’t actually feeding my body any real food, which explains why I was always ravenous but malnourished at the same time. And even if you may get by with years of eating processed food, there is a high likelihood that your body will get fussy with you somewhere down the line.
If we want a quality life, we must nourish ourselves with quality food, people, relationships, self-care, joy, and love. As for our girls, for the years that we still have control over what we buy and serve them, we will do our darndest to make sure those are nutritious, real, and satisfying foods with the hopes that those will contribute to a high-quality life now and in the future. And I hope that by the time they are adults, people will not at all be surprised that real food is not only healthier, but is also amazingly delicious and kid-friendly.