I buy organic milk with no added DHA or ARA or bovine growth hormone, and mostly organic produce -- local, if at all possible. I make most of my food from scratch. I don't do baby food. I would never buy Lucky Charms for my kids. I have brands I refuse to buy, no matter what they make. I make these choices for my family for my own reasons. I have a lot of friends who make similar choices, along with their own "nevers" and things they buy that I wouldn't. But I don't judge them on their choices.
However, I have found that a lot of people seem to not only turn their food choices into a competition, but they also get very offended when you mention your own choices, and treat you like you're trying to be a show-off. This is my life and how I choose to do things for my family ... it has nothing to do with anyone else.
Plus, I am always happy to learn ways to improve what I do ... but I reserve the right to take it under consideration and still choose my way!
When my son was 8 or 9 months old, I was letting him eat hot dogs I'd bought at our local chain store. Fortunately, a fabulous online mom friend reminded me they were terrible choking hazards, and also full of nasty stuff including nitrates. I sat for a second, looking at what she'd written to me, and was almost mad. She wasn't trying to upset me, even if she may have said it in a way that I could have been angry about (she didn't -- but often the best of intentions can make people mad). She was just looking out for my son, but I took it as a slam against me and my choices.
Still ... she was right. I bought the hot dogs marketed towards toddlers for him and cut them so he couldn't choke. Knowing what I know now, if I buy hot dogs, which happens maybe once every few years, it's nitrate-free, organic grass-fed meat. It was a big jump from what I used to feed my son as a baby. While I don't expect everyone to jump on board with my reasons, over time, I've made more and more changes in our diets that feel more comfortable for me both ethically and morally. These changes also are healthier for us and, surprisingly, save us a lot of money as well, which is very important in our lives, at this point, more than ever.
Sometimes I'll read something about an ingredient, fact-check to confirm it, and decide that I really don't want that in my kids' diet anymore, so I remove that one thing. Sometimes my friends will read the same thing, and they don't come to the same conclusion, or they live somewhere they can't buy other options, or their budget doesn't allow the same choice, whatever, but they keep buying it. Sometimes it's them making a change I can't, don't, won't, or feel overwhelmed by. But it's those baby steps towards better health, one little step at a time here and there -- getting me from store brand choking hazard hot dogs for a baby to the place I am now -- that I feel so much better about. And I expect in a few years, I'll look back at some of the things I feed my kids today and be glad I don't do that anymore. Sometimes it's hard not to say to the mom grabbing the $1, three-ounce jar of broccoli baby food, "Hey, have you ever considered just buying REAL broccoli and letting your baby eat that instead? Saves money and is way healthier!" but I don't. I understand each mom needs to do what's right for them. For me ... I'm proud of the growth I've made for my kids, and for myself, not because I'm trying to be a one-upper or think I'm a better mom -- but because this what works for me. (But really, real broccoli is way cheaper ...)
Do you get flack for trying to improve your family's diet?
Image via Christie Haskell