Always eat good food. That is simple, easy to say and seems like common sense. I mean come on already, who doesn’t want to eat good food? While that sounds like a no-brainer, and everyone wants to do that, most people don’t eat good food. They eat food, and lots of it, but very few people eat good food. Most people eat boxed, processed, preserved, shipped, nutritionally questionable foodstuffs. I am no nutritionist, dietician, or professional chef. In fact, I am not a food expert of any kind. What I am is a father of four happy, healthy kids with seventeen years of parenting experience. I am a primary caregiver, whole home cook, and a self-taught chef. I have been cooking daily for nearly thirty years, and have been a gourmet enthusiast for the last fifteen of those. That is an education no university can provide.
I have five basic points regarding eating good food, and I will give you my opinion on them, in no particular order. First, it is cheaper. Second, it tastes better. Third, it is healthier, and you feel better eating it. Fourth, it makes it easier to follow a specific eating plan, And fifth, it supports responsibly sourced producers, more ecologically friendly production, and can help keep your local economy stronger. Let me explain each of these in detail:
One: Its Cheaper. Honestly, it is a lot cheaper. Most of you have seen that anything in the store marked healthy or low fat or certified organic is about 20% more money than the less healthy processed alternative. If it costs more money, how can it be cheaper? Simply put, it is more wholesome, and more filling, or at least more satisfying. Because of this, you eat less. Also, whole natural products don’t usually “cook down” as much, leaving more product volume in the final dish. Because of these benefits and more, it costs you less money over time. Let me explain. We have a great local bakery here. They make everything fresh every day and source all their products locally when possible. They make an excellent soft wheat bread that is perfect for sandwiches. We will compare that to a standard wheat bread like Hillbilly brand. Nothing wrong with Hillbilly brand bread, I ate it a lot growing up. If I want to make a cheese sandwich for my son, if I use the mass-produced bread, he can eat two, maybe three sandwiches before he is satisfied and pushes away from the table, if I make that with the local loaf, one is enough. The bread is more firm, more filling and less full of puffed air. It also has less empty calories. Couple that with using good natural cheeses and he has an excellent meal, full of quality, healthy ingredients, and is satisfied sooner, with less product. Now if my local loaf costs 40% more than Hillbilly, but he eats half as much, that is a net savings for me of about 10%. The same is true with most whole foods, not just bread. Real butter is richer than margarine, so less is needed to acheive the same flavor. We use a brand of whole milk that is much higher protein and not only do the kids drink smaller glasses of it and use less on the cereal. It also lasts longer in the fridge, so I lose less to spoilage, again, showing net savings even though the initial price is significantly higher. Some whole or natural products just cost a lot more money. However, I find that when I shop smarter, with a good plan and a well thought out list, it balances out. By getting only the foods we need for that list, which is less total product now that we are eating better quality foods, I can save enough to cover the other items which do cost more. When factored over time, eating whole, natural, healthy foods will save you money, or at the very least cost the same as eating boxed, canned, processed, preserved foods. Another hidden savings in eating better food is the lower cost of healthcare over the longterm, but that can be a topic for another day.
Second: It tastes better. Really, it does. If you need to prove this to yourself, buy a pineapple and a can of pineapples and taste both. Fresh food tastes so much better in almost every case. Pick any random food that you would commonly eat and compare it to a whole, natural equivalent right now. Bread, what sounds better to you right now, something out of a plastic bag on a store shelf, or a slice of still warm freshly baked bread? Which tomato would be more appetizing, a fresh, crisp, ripe tomato or a metal can full of pre-cooked months old tomato parts in salt? You get the idea. Even if you look at the classic comfort foods that we usually think of coming from a box, like Mac n Cheese. Which would you serve to your mother-in-law to achieve the least eye-roll, a glop of Kraft from a saucepan, or a nice slice of home baked macaroni cheese casserole, hot from the oven with crispy breadcrumbs on top? Now I am sure you are thinking, “Well, when you put it that way, of course, the homemade sounds better.” When you are the one creating it, you can take the little extra time and love to make it just as good as it sounds.
Third: Its healthier and you feel better eating it. Do I even need to explain this? It is healthier for you because you have complete control of what goes into it. You choose the recipe, you buy the supplies, and you prep the food. You have complete control over every aspect of the foods creation. If you think Soy sauce has too much salt, you opt not to use it. If you feel that vegetable broth is better for you than beef broth, you choose to change it up. When you have complete control, you approve of everything in the meal. If you didn’t you wouldn’t buy it. This makes you feel better eating it too. If you know that you used butter instead of margarine, you are controlling the amount and types of fats you eat. If you decide to only buy responsibly sourced ingredients, then you can go to sleep that night knowing you have taken a step to help the planet and its inhabitants. Lastly, if you cook it, you control the portions so you can end your meal knowing that you had the right amount of what you made, there can be less guilt due to overeating or straying from your chosen eating plan, and that means you feel better about yourself. Which leads straight into the next point.
Fourth: It makes it easier to follow a specific eating plan. If you have ever looked in a mirror and noticed that the crows feet are clawing into the edges of your eyes, and the jeans you wore last month are just a little bit tighter, then you have probably thought, I should eat differently. Maybe your thought was to eat better food, less of some ingredient, fewer calories in general, more responsibly, or to achieve a healthier weight. When you are the one sourcing, prepping and making the food, you can change the ingredients to hit that target eating goal. You are preparing it, so you can make appropriate portions, and choose ingredients that fit whatever eating plan you have decided to follow. I personally dislike the term ‘Diet’ as so many people think of the classic starvation for weight loss or the following of some new fad or trend in an attempt to achieve rapid weight loss. I don’t condone or condemn anyone’s choice to follow such a thing, but I wouldn’t want this article to be misconstrued as that type advice. The point here is, if you can achieve your goal by only eating one fish filet cooked only in avocado oil and served with polenta and steamed kale, well, then that is exactly what you make. If you prepare only one filet, you can’t over-eat. If you cook it yourself in avocado oil, then that is precisely what you have when you are done and nothing more. When you are sourcing your own ingredients, prepping them and preparing them yourself into dishes that you choose, you have total control. I can tell you from personal experience, that after following my version of a clean eating plan, along with healthy targets for protein, fat, carbs, and calories, the most difficult meals to maintain my weight and health on are the ones I get from restaurants.
Fifth: It supports responsible sourcing and production of goods. I learned a long time ago that if you like some product or service you have to be willing to pay for it if you are not, it will probably go away. Buying locally, organically, and responsibly produced foods promote that industry and helps guarantee it will be around for the next generation. I mentioned already the local bakery I use. They employ local people, buy products from local farms, and spend their money where they live. I am not going to jump on a soapbox here, but frankly, buying whole, organic, local foods saves local businesses, promotes local jobs, and cuts down on the smog produced by the trucks that have to haul the commercial products clear across the country. When those local farms can make a living selling their wares at real full prices they don’t have to cut corners or make cheaper products. When you buy local bread made with local products, you support not just the local bakery, but also the local grain farm, and the local dairy farm. Also, when you decide to spend your money on responsibly produced items, you promote the idea of greener production. If you buy local flower based on it being more wholesome and better for your environment, the only way for the corporate farms to even dream of winning back your business is to offer you similar products. This drives everyone to make smarter, more responsible products.
In conclusion, I would like to say that this is not advice. These are my observations. These ideas are open to interpretation and may be completely off base. As I said before, I am not a food expert of any kind, just a father, and a foodie. People often get very emotionally invested in their diets or health choices. I am not putting this here to spark a debate or even a conversation for that matter. These are my thoughts, if they don’t fit for your life, then ignore them, but if they do strike a chord with you, if they spark ideas or inspirations for you, then stay tuned. In the next article, I will tell you exactly HOW I shop smarter, with a good plan and a well thought out list. It isn’t that hard, and I will show you my secret to shopping great nutritious whole foods on a budget. Until then, EAT GOOD FOOD.
Categories: Parenting Thoughts