Sometimes, my kids’ lunchboxes are not perfect according to someone else's opinion. The ingredients that make up the meal are not organic and I often add in their favorite cookie as a bonus. And you know what? I’m ok with this. Everything I put in the lunchbox was made fresh in my kitchen, even when I had to grab a quiche or smoothie from my freezer at the last minute.
I once shared this lunch on Facebook and the comment "I hope those berries and veggies are organic, otherwise you are serving your kid a pesticide-filled meal" made me feel pretty terrible about the lunch I had just sent to school.
Having more than 70,000 parents in the MOMables community
means that I receive hundreds of emails every week. I read every email that lands in our community inbox since it gives me an insight of what parents are struggling with when it comes to feeding their kids.
It often pains me to read these emails, since they are filled with guilt about not having perfect little meals, parents unsure of what to feed their picky eaters, others want to make a change but don’t really know how or have the time, and then there are those who are intimidated by the kitchen because they did not eat homemade meals at home growing up.
But what troubles me most, are those that are at the point of giving up because everything they read on the internet makes them feel inadequate about their situation and it diminishes their efforts. I can’t help but hit “reply” to many of these emails with encouraging words, words that I tell myself as a mother when I’m having a bad day and I’m in the kitchen at 6 o’clock, too tired to cook.
The reality is that it’s not about making every meal perfect; it’s about looking at the day as a whole and doing your best to include the most nutritionally rich items as possible.
While the organic debate is still out there, it’s important to put things into perspective. Nutritionally, it’s far better to include a non-organic cup of fresh berries inside a lunchbox than an organic cookie. And yet, many parents do not include fruit in their daily meals because they can’t afford organic for their families.
The definition of the word “healthy” is different for everyone. For someone who follows a Paleo diet, butter, eggs, fish and lean meats are healthy; and yet, these beliefs are much different from those who eat a low-fat diet or vegan diet. Again, it’s a matter of perspective.
What’s important to remember before judging and vocalizing our opinions is that not everyone is at the same place in our journey towards feeding their families “healthy” meals. What I can say is, that nearly everyone is trying and doing their best with the budget allocated towards food and what is available in their area.
A Farmer’s market in Los Angeles provides an abundance of colorful fruits and vegetables year round; while a market in the Mid-West will have limited produce in the middle of January. In fact, some of us don’t have farmer’s markets or organic grocery stores nearby and driving an hour to shop at one is not always an option. Let's not forget that we all have different things available in our areas.
I will close by sharing what I often include in my emails to those that take the time to share their struggles. To them, I always say “do your best with what you have available, smile at the opportunity to try something new, and don’t give up. Feeding our families is less about perfection and all about our efforts, even when our kids refuse to eat the food.”