I have a confession to make, I’ve been feeling a little frustrated lately. There have been several online conversations lately that have me questioning our real food journey and if it’s ‘good enough’.
You see, while we do strive for a real food diet we do not eat 100% real food. We are about 85% real food and the other 15% we don’t worry too much about.
I’ve also shared several times that while we buy what we can from our local farmers and ranchers we fill in the gaps from chain grocery stores and even (gasp) Wal*mart.
I’ve also shared that we do eat out and our dining out options are certainly not real food, we just do the best we can on those occasions and enjoy the experience.
What I haven’t shared as often is the occasional rebellion experienced in our real food journey. A prime example is the recent birthday we had. Kiki turned 17. One of our ‘rules’ for birthdays has always been the birthday person makes the menu for the day (they are also excused from all chores on that day– yep, pretty kind of me to offer a day off one time per year). This has been our tradition since before real food ever came into our lives.
We’ve been on this real food journey for over 3 years now and as of yet, not one birthday person has made an entirely real food menu on that day. Myself included. Kiki actually asked to go to McDonald’s for her birthday dinner. Yep, she really did.
I have to admit, this never really bothered me too much until lately. Lately I’ve noticed a huge trend (on the internet) that if someone says they follow a real/whole/traditional food diet but doesn’t follow it just right that person’s opinion is immediately dismissed and often verbally assaulted.
It seems that if we don’t purchase every morsel of our food only from local farmers we are somehow not ‘worthy’ of being a real food fan. And FORGET IT if you have ever darkened the doors of a fast food restaurant!
I find this attitude to be very frustrating. While I’d like to believe that this is presented with only good intentions of what we ‘should do’ I have to wonder how many people are completely turned away from real food (and its benefits) because they feel they could never live up to the standards being set? I find that to be incredibly sad!
And what about people like my family? While we do fairly well with the food brought into the home, I know that my family is not 100% on board with this entire thing. Don’t get me wrong, my husband is with me in this journey and we made a decision that most of the food that comes into this house would fall under our real food rules. And Christopher age 3 doesn’t really have an opinion yet (to be honest he doesn’t know any different since we started this when he was just a few weeks old) but my girls are old enough to have opinions. My two oldest don’t live at home (ages 23 and 21) any longer. They did each live here for a few months (at different times) while we have been on this journey but never embraced it. Kiki and Lulu (ages 17 and 15) have been a part of this journey from the beginning.
Kiki and Lulu are not completely on board with this real food journey. They do eat the food that is served but I do sometimes ‘hear’ about it. At their age they are involved in different activities that sometimes involves food or going out. Lulu especially will make comments about how she wishes she was like ‘everyone else’ and didn’t have to eat such weird food.
I have to admit as a mom who wants the best for her children (what mom doesn’t?) and since I happen to think one great way to have a good quality of life is by eating high quality foods, it is sad to know that my child doesn’t agree. And as a real food blogger, it’s hard to admit that not everything is all sunshine and roses in the real food arena.
But the truth is, at 17 Kiki is very near adulthood. She needs to be learning how to make her own decisions in all areas and that includes the food she nourishes (or doesn’t nourish) her body with. Lulu, while younger, also needs to be able to learn to make responsible decisions.
I’m learning to let go more. It is not easy for me since I am the type of person who likes to fix everything (can you relate to that?). We still talk quite a bit about food and nutrition especially while doing our kitchen work. And the basic food brought into the house each week falls under our 85% goal. The other decisions that the girls encounter for food are left to them. Yes, I could put my foot down and say “you will never eat at McDonald’s” but then that may lead to ‘sneaking around’ and not telling me about McDonald’s. If they feel the need to sneak around and not share their food choices with me, what other choices might they make and not share with me? I shudder to think.
As for Kiki’s desire to go to McDonald’s… she changed her mind and decided to go to a new burger place in town that serves Wyoming beef. For her birthday cake she wanted a cookie cake from a chain store (boy, I could write a whole post about that cake and the turmoil it caused!). We’ll actually be having a second birthday celebration over the weekend with the rest of the family. I’m wondering what food choices that will bring. But the truth is, whatever they are that is fine. I would rather enjoy my family in a McDonald’s than not have a family to enjoy!
Something else to mention we do not have any food allergies or severe illnesses. But even if we did, Kiki and Lulu would need to take some responsibility for managing those things on their own as part of ‘growing up’. It’s also important to note that I’m not offering any sort of parenting advice. Instead just sharing what we are trying to do and how frustrating this can be for me.
What if it wasn’t my girls rebelling but my husband? That would present a whole different range of things to look at. If that was the case I can honestly say we would not be 85% real food. I wouldn’t want to go against my husbands wishes so our process would be very slow and deliberate. When I first read about real/whole/traditional foods and shared the information with Joe he thought it sounded good. He liked the idea of eating foods closer to the way God made them. But he didn’t like the idea of having to increase our tiny food budget (we didn’t have that option). The deal was we could ‘do real foods’ but only if we stayed on our current food budget. Every change we made was slow and deliberate to keep our budget in check and to keep from becoming overwhelmed. There have been things that came up in this real food journey that we don’t agree on so those changes are usually not made.
If you are new to real foods or just considering how this could possibly work for your family keep in mind that this is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Where you live, your food budget, your daily schedule and your family all play a part in how real food works for you. Don’t think you can ‘do’ real food the way you’ve seen others ‘do it’. No problem! Do it your way. Make changes that work for your family. One change at a time over the course of several years if necessary.
I have come to the conclusion that while our family’s food journey may not live up to the standards set by others, that is just fine. Those people don’t live here. They don’t pay for the food. Whatever works in their food journey, for their family, is great. But my family will continue on this real food journey in a way that makes sense for us.
Is your family on board with your real food efforts? What struggles have you encountered and how do you work through them? Or do you ever just feel overwhelmed with everything you are ‘supposed’ to do or not do in the area of food? Go ahead and rant if you need to. It helped me!
PS– If you have food allergies or medical reasons for needing to adhere to a specific way of eating, that is a different story than what my family is experiencing. I just thought I’d make that clear. You need to do what is best for your health and your family.