This guest post is written by Delia of The Sweet Simplicity.
Becoming a mother has changed me in more ways than I ever realized it would. Although I tend to be a shy and a somewhat reserved person by nature, the mother in me is quite the opposite. As parents I strongly believe that we have an obligation to do what is best for our children and not what may seem easy and convenient. I will never do something just because everyone around me is doing it. Having strong opinions is a good thing, even if people around you do not agree with your opinion. Having strong opinions affirms your love and dedication for your children. As the primary caregivers of our children, it is our responsibility to do whatever is best for our child, even if it means going against the grain of what society is telling us to do.
- Society tells us to vaccinate our children according to the Center for Disease Control schedule.
- Society tells us to plop our kids in front of the television and allow them to watch as many shows as they want. If it's on Nickelodeon it couldn't possibly be harmful, right?
- Society tells us to slather our babies in Johnson&Johnson baby oil. Mothers have been using it forever; therefore it must be fine.
- Society tells us that our kids need chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. There is no way that kids will eat grilled chicken or whole wheat pasta, so don't even try.
- Society tells us to only go to church on Christmas and Easter because your kids will misbehave so much; it's not worth trying to go every Sunday.
Our society tells us a lot of ways that we should raise our kids, but just because society says we should do it does not mean that is what is right for our children. If these are the things we are "supposed" to do, then I am a very rebellious parent. I go against the grain in a lot of my decision making in regards to my family. Rather than trusting what someone else has said I should do, I do my own research and make an informed decision.
For the sake of simplifying things, I am going to focus only on food today. Although food is most certainly not my top priority in my daughter's upbringing, it is of very high importance.
Growing up, I used to frequently babysit for a young boy and girl in our neighborhood. Every time I would go to their house, I would find myself rolling my eyes in dismay. There were no Oreos in the pantry and no chicken nuggets in the freezer. In their place stood whole wheat crackers and beef liver. Never in my life had I been to a house that had virtually no processed food. I didn't even know that unprocessed food existed. I was given strict instructions to not give the kids yogurt before bed because it had too much sugar! Meals included beef liver with lots of steamed veggies and brown rice. Yuck. I truly thought that their mother was crazy. Fast forward ten years, and I have become that mom! Okay, maybe not quite as crazy...
I wasn't always a nutrition nerd. I grew up eating a Standard American Diet (SAD) that included plenty of processed foods. In college, after working at a farmer's market and learning about natural foods, I decided to take a few nutrition courses. I was hooked immediately! I am currently studying to be a dietitan because I feel so passionate about educating people about what real, healthy eating is.
Over the past few years, I have learned a lot of information regarding our American food system. Having aquired this knowledge has drastically changed the way I allow my family to eat. Like I said previously, I am very strong willed and opinionated when it comes to motherhood. Knowing what I know about our American food system has made me rebel against a Standard American Diet and want better food for my family. Eighty percent (80%!!) of foods at a standard grocery store are genetically modified and yet our government refuses to test the safety of GM foods. We inject feedlot animals with unnecessary growth hormones and antibiotics to make them bigger. When humans eat these animal products, it can drastically disrupt our hormone balance causing infertility, early onset of puberty, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. These are just a few of the topics that infuriate me.
Knowing these facts makes me very stirred up and passionate. It makes me demand higher quality foods. Although it is a little bit more expensive, I purchase primarily organic foods and I never shop at regular grocery stores. I stick to Trader Joes, Sprouts, Whole Foods, and the local farmer's market.
A lot of my family thinks I am weird. They tell me to lighten up. "It's just a hot dog. It won't kill her". Sure it won't kill her today, but a lifetime of consuming sodium nitrates is a leading cause of cancer. Sure, eating cheap Tyson chicken won't "kill" us, but I also don't want my young daughter having any sort of hormonal imbalances. I would rather pay a higher price for animal products that don't contain added hormones or antibiotics. Knowing what I know about food, makes it impossible for me to not use that knowledge for the greater good of my family.
In no way am I trying to convince you to eat organic food. As parents, we all have things that we are highly passionate about. If you don't have a passion for healthy eating, that's okay.
As mothers we all do the best we can with the knowledge and resources available to us. My greatest hope is to encourage you to advocate for your child. Whether or not people think you are nuts, decide what you are passionate about, and stick to it. Do your research. Read books. Talk to other moms. Be an advocate for your child. Make informed decisions and don't ever be afraid to stand up for what is right for your family! We need to always be advocating for our children!