I was born in the mid 1970’s. I was the youngest of three at that point. My parents divorced early on and both worked full time jobs. Life was busy for them and dinner was usually whatever was easiest. At my mom’s house, we each had a night to cook. I think my specialty was pork chops with zesty Italian dressing. We probably ate tater tots and fish sticks weekly and macaroni and cheese with Velveeta on a regular basis until it was diet time and then there was a lot of orange roughy. At my dad’s house I remember things like Spaghetti O’s, frozen cupcakes – the variety pack, spinach soufflé. There were trips to Burger King and Pizza Hut for special occasions or when our parents were just too tired. This was the norm then. Fast food whether from a chain restaurant or frozen was all the rage. It simply made life easier. Iceberg lettuce salads with a wedge of tomato compensated as your vegetable.
They didn’t know. No one knew. Not until, well really the past decade or so did people start questioning the health of our food. That’s right, our food can be healthy and unhealthy. And in turn it can make us healthy or unhealthy. Some of it’s obvious. Whether we want to admit it or not, we know that Hostess Cakes are probably not good for us. But some food masquerades as healthy, full of vitamins, etc. You know the ones, the boxed cereals that claim they have all essential vitamins and nutrients your body needs. And even others seem like they could be the right choice but because they are pre-packaged and processed they are likely to contain additives and fillers to keep it (fake) fresh.
What has driven me to write this book is twofold. No fault of anyone, probably defective genes plus decades of poor nutritional choices, I found myself 40 pounds heavier and exhausted in my early thirties. I had never struggled with my weight like this. It felt like it happened overnight but in reality, it crept up on me over a few years. After several doctor visits complaining about weight gain and exhaustion with no clear answers other than I should exercise more, eat less and get more sleep, I was “lucky” enough to end back up in the doctor’s office with chest pains. Long story short, I was finally diagnosed with hypothyroidism. But that was only the start of another even longer chapter – it took years to find the right doctors to get me on track. I suffered through hives for 15 months, miscarriages, exhaustion, fluctuating weight and that was all after I was diagnosed.
The second driver is my own kids. I feel like we know so much more now than we did. I want both my daughter and son to grow up with healthy eating habits, with an appreciation for whole foods and a recognition of how food can make you both healthy and sick based on your choices.
I know this knowledge, while more available, is still a huge luxury. And I hate it. I think it’s a crime that we are being fed junk both literally and figuratively when it comes to what is healthy. The goal of this book is to help you better understand why it’s important to choose whole, nutrient dense foods over processed junk, tips on how it’s easier than you think and recipes that toddlers will love and that you can feel good about.
One more thing, I promise I’m not one of those moms that has it all together, not even close. I fly by the seat of my pants most days. I never leave the house in a presentable fashion. My hair is typically sticking up in the back, my socks rarely match and I’m usually covered in whatever meal I served, the day before. So if I can do this stuff you can too. And, while I want you to feel a little upset about some of the information in this book, I also want it to empower you to start making small changes, build the confidence that you can do it and grow from there.