Monday, May 24, 2010

You Are What You Eat

Edited: In reading the comments I have gotten, I just want to emphasize that I am not as concerned about my weight or even what I am eating (a sweet, a veggie, a fruit, a chip) as I am about the quality. Reading about the latest studies potentially linking the effects of pesticides and ADHD has quite honestly scared me. Will is such a fruit/veggie eater, but we rarely buy organic (due to costs), although I do wash all fruits that I give him. This was kind of the nail in the coffin on my laissez faire approach to eating (i.e., not really reading labels, just trusting that something that says it is good for my family really is).

Like most people I know, my relationship with food has been decidedly complicated for a very long time. As a teenager, I was skiiiiiiny. I shopped for size 0 prom dresses that had to be taken in. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted it.

When M and I needed birth control prior to getting married, I got the depo shot. I also graduated college, started my first "real" job, and M and I moved in together, which was a lot of life changes all at once . The end result was that I gained thirty pounds in about six months. I was still not what anyone would call fat, but when I looked at pictures of myself, I was shocked to see that I was no longer what anyone would call skinny, either.

I went on my first diet at 22. M and I did Atkins together and it worked like a charm. I lost the thirty pounds and basked in the compliments of coworkers and friends. I learned that I am an excellent dieter and have really good self-discipline when it comes to counting calories or carbs and portion control. The only problem with being such a "good" dieter is that I would sometimes relax, knowing I could just jump on a diet and lose it anytime I wanted, so the scale jumped around a bit throughout my twenties and so did my pant sizes.

Still, I was able to keep a handle on things. I managed my weight with what I called "conscious eating" and moderate exercise until infertility reared its ugly head. Then, between the depression eating, the hormones, "bed rest", and all the rest of the crap that came with it, I jumped up ten pounds and stayed there. I was then blessed with my pregnancy with Will and the thirty pounds that came with. While the weight did come off after he was born and I even managed to lose the ten pounds of infertility weight, I wasn't really where I wanted to be. Then came this pregnancy and the so-far twenty pounds that have come with it.

I felt as if I ate very healthily when I was pregnant with Will. Lots of fruits and veggies, tons of salads and the occasional treat. But I had a strong chocolate aversion and most desserts turned my stomach. I was obsessed with fruits. With Emma? If it isn't swimming in a cream sauce or dipped in some sort of chocolate, I am just not that interested. Carbs are my friends. When I eat a veggie or a fruit, I enjoy it, but I don't crave them the way that I did when I was pregnant with him.

I very rarely cook a meal from scratch anymore with all natural ingredients. While most of the dinners I do cook could be counted as "healthy," they also contain a lot of packaged "help" in the form of pastas, sauces, packages, etc. With a busy toddler running around, it's also very easy to just toss a frozen lasagna into the oven or have M pick up some sort of take out on the way home. Occasionally, this would be fine, but I am finding myself leaning on these convenience foods more and more often. I often feel sluggish and kind of blech. A lot of times, the foods that I stuff in my face don't even sound or look good, they are just there. And I am hungry and lazy.

Three weeks ago, I looked at M and said, "I'm done." And by done, I meant done eating this way, feeling this way, looking this way. For the record, I know that I am not overweight and have gained a healthy amount of weight while pregnant. This is more about how I eat, what I eat, and how it makes me feel. Even if I am "skinny," I don't feel healthy. And now I am teaching a young boy, and soon a young girl, about food and I don't want my relationship with food to be a bad example for them. I want to be able to enjoy food, not for what size it will make me or how many pounds I will gain from eating it (or not eating it), but for the fact that it will nourish my body.

I have been following Mel as she has started her own food journey and finding myself nodding my head in complete agreement with her feelings and experiences. I was thinking that after Emma was born, I would start changing the way we eat, since I felt as if it was just too much to start right now.

And then, this. Have you heard about this? Where I feel as if I might fall down in my own eating sometimes, I have always been vigilant about what Will eats. I make sure that he has lots of fruits and veggies for all meals and snacks. I try to stay away from convenience foods for him, even if that's what M and I are having for dinner. So when I started hearing and then reading about this, I was taken by surprise.

To me, it is just another sign that I need to stop putting off what I know is the right thing to do. I am not an alarmist, but there are just too many red flags that I need to start paying more attention, even with the healthy things, that going into my familys' mouths. I am not going to do anything terribly drastic at this point, but I am going to follow the advice given by our pediatrician and also start reading labels. And after Emma is born, I am definitely going to be getting more aggressive in my approach.

In the meantime, what are your sources for healthy eating and shopping? What are your thoughts on the latest studies? Will it change what you buy and how you feed your family?


Anonymous said...

What an excellent idea! I cant wait to read more about how you are changing!

Ms. J said...

LP eats and craves so many healthy things that I don't worry or fret when she begs for a sweet treat. I wish I could be as fruit-friendly as she. I think I am agoing to have to go back on WW to lose these 10 lbs that are still sticking to me. Finding time to exercise, after the 2nd kid, and with being back to work full-time, has been a losing battle. SIGH. I really need to drop this weight, though, as I don't feel good about ME with the extra weight on (and I wasn't skin to begin with, but "fit" would be an apt description). My thighs feel ginormous, and I don't feel like the s.exy woman I used to pride myself on being.

Intrepidgirl said...

You are a very organized and motivated person! I think you push yourself very hard and have accomplished a lot of things while being pregnant with #2. I think it's ok if you get take-out occasionally and if you can't cook from scratch all the time, I forgive you. You don't have to be perfect! You are doing a great job.

Also 20 lbs is nothing. I gained 55 lbs with my kid and, you know, it was ok because I got a perfect boy out of the deal. You're pregnant -- it's really ok to eat. You can worry about the weight in 6-9 months or even a year later. It's fine. I have about 8 lbs to go and I know I'll get there little by little.

Congrats on #2!!

Mel said...

You know where I stand on this. Have you seen Food, Inc, yet?

Another interesting topic to research? Milk. It kind of makes me twitch a little. We are told from the very beginning that milk is so healthy and has so many health benefits... I began to wonder why all our milk labels had denotations on them about hormones and such and what I found when I started researching that stuff was startling. I've actually always bought organic whole milk for L, but I have to say that the brand I buy (the most pop organic milk on the shelf) has taken a BEATING from watch dog groups.... apparently NOT so organic as they claim. And at $3.99 a freaking gallon, that just down right pisses me off. I stopped buying their product this week.

You are awesome! I am so happy to hear that you are thinking about all of this, too!!

Nicky said...

If you want to try organic but are concerned about cost, there are lists out there that prioritize what produce is worth the extra expense and what isn't. For example, check out

For example, pesticides tend to cling to apples and strawberries, so it's worth the expense of buying those organic. But bananas and eggplant are grown with few chemicals, they don't penetrate the fruit, and are easily washed off. Should help your budget since you can target when the expense of buying organic is going to pay off, and when to save your money. I used to buy organic bananas and mangos, but now I focus those extra dollars on spinach, grapes, and strawberries.