By Kate Tietje, Contributing Writer
When I first started eating real food, I was pretty strict.
I would not buy any white sugar or white flour. I would not use wheat (spelt, then grain-free). I was convinced all that stuff was “poison” and I was pretty proud of my high standards.
Fast forward four years.
Yes, I buy white flour and white sugar (although I try not to use it too often). Yes, I use wheat. Yes, I buy the occasional packaged item (but I do have certain ingredients that I won’t bring into my home — I’m talking more like “veggie chips,” not “cheez curls”). Life just doesn’t allow such a strict standard. And I find my standards are always changing, really.
Can you relate?
Healthy Food Is Important
It’s really important to me to feed my family healthy food. I want most of what they eat to be nutrient-dense. I use a lot of bone broth; I ferment a lot of things; I make my own sauces and soups. I soak all my whole grains. I know that we feel best when we do this.
I also try to source the best food that I can. I buy local, pastured-raised meats, eggs and milk. I buy good brands of cheese. I buy local and organic produce…when I can. I buy raw honey.
I want my family to enjoy healthy food. I want them to feel good, and I want the kids to grow up strong. I don’t want them to think that a snack of dye-laden fruit snacks and potato chips is the “norm.” I want them to enjoy eating a variety of fruits and vegetables and fermented foods. I want them to know how to prepare these traditional items themselves, so that hopefully they’ll do it as adults. I know health is so tied to what we are eating.
Life Gets in the Way
On the other hand, we live in the real world.
Sometimes we’re too busy to cook. I relied a lot on cereal and veggie chips and other items I wouldn’t usually buy in the last month or so of my fourth pregnancy. I just didn’t have the energy to do much in the kitchen, nor the motivation.
We like to be “on the go” a lot and coming up with enough healthy, homemade items that are easy to travel with is a chore sometimes. I vary between just making things like jerky, kale chips, and taking fresh fruit/veggies and buying a “treat” of chips or something else packaged.
Then there’s the almighty budget. Would I like to buy everything organic and 100% perfectly sourced? Sure I would. Can I afford it? No way. There are people who might turn their noses up to learn that I rarely buy organic potatoes (though I hate that) and regularly buy non-organic grapes (yes, I know they’re on the dirty dozen list), onions (on the ‘clean 15’ list), mushrooms, etc. I don’t worry about produce very much, and I buy what’s available to me, organic or not, usually.
I love it when I can afford the local and organic, but…that gets expensive.
What’s the Answer?
I don’t really know what the answer is. Sometimes I get all strict again and try to avoid any form of sugar, eat few grains (I don’t do that well on none), lots of homemade fermented foods, mostly organics, etc.
Sometimes I let it slide, probably more than I should.
I wish that budget and time didn’t affect my food decisions, but of course they do. It’s part of life!
Let’s talk about it. And please, let’s remember that we each have our own situations, our own personal limits, and our own answers. This isn’t about finding “the” answer and we shouldn’t shame or insult people who have different standards. We all struggle to find balance — so let’s talk about how we make it work for ourselves.
How do you balance eating healthy food with real life?