Daily Life / Parenthood

Why I constantly talk about food and why it’s such a big topic for me

I think the title explains exactly what’s on my mind. I share little texts about nutrition here and there, especially in relation to kids, but I never feel like I have enough space to exactly explain what I mean. A lot of the time, I feel like it comes across as over the top, almost hysterical. So here’s my take on the topic from a few angles. I am not a doctor and neither am I a nutritionist. Although from what I can see, being a doctor is definitely not a good measure on being a nutrition expert whatsoever. My experience is my own health, wellbeing and body. 

During childhood and teenage years I have been fed a diet of half processed, half home cooked meals, heavy on meat, dairy and processed meats too. Just as an example, a standard breakfast would be a white baked good with butter topped with ham. Not much of a nutritional value, but also carcinogenic processed meat. At the same time, I have been told that I am chubby and my skin is bad. My dad had a cute nickname for me, larda would be the best translation I can come up with. No girl will ever forget that. I have also been prescribed medication for my acne and hormonal contraceptives. This has left my face and my self esteem scarred. 

Over the years I have developed a very healthy relationship with food. I would say it’s thanks to my strong willed nature. Will I have ice cream if I want it? Yes. Will I always want it? No, because I am addicted to neither dairy nor sugar. The route to this point in life has not been straightforward nor easy, especially in my teen years and early twenties. I desperately don’t want my children to experience the same. So that’s why it’s important – for me. For me underlined, written in bold. I never ever judge other people’s choices. I do not comment on other people’s diets and do not look into other people’s shopping carts, plates or fridges. With the only exception of trying to convince my parents to drop the processed food, as I want them to be with us for a very long time. Now that said, the story continues. 

During my last years in Scotland, when I finally had a proper job and didn’t have to save every pound as a student, I finally had the time and disposable income for myself. I could afford to start thinking about what I was putting in my shopping cart. A girl that I knew mentioned that she’s starting the whole30 diet in January. I thought it sounded cool and wanted to try it too. So I dived in from day one, without any preparation. There were several health reasons that drove me to it and ALL of them were sorted with this diet. Not at the end of the 30 days, but after because these 30 days have completely changed my outlook on food. I am not going to explain the whole30 diet, there’s a lot of sources out there, but basically I have learned to eat only wholefoods and realised how that made me feel and that was the way forward. Turns out that a lot of the things, I thought I could not live without, I could easily live without.  

When I started to feel pretty confident in my newfound lifestyle, let’s be honest, it is a lifestyle, I was ok to still have whatever I wanted: ice cream, chocolates, crisps. I don’t feel guilty about it, I don’t hate myself, it’s just not an everyday food, not even an every week food. For the most part, it’s not even food that I would buy, just occasionally enjoyed in places where it’s offered. Having come back to the strict whole30 diet every now and then when I feel like it’s needed. Even making Lukas do it with me once and curing him from thinking that he cannot live without sugar. 

I am also a big fan of diets that keep your digestive system on its toes. Oh and I should also probably mention that when I say “diet”, I don’t mean an eating regime designed to lose weight, I mean a lifestyle of healthy balanced eating that does not leave you hungry or frustrated in any way. Healthy body is just a natural result. When I say keeping your body on your toes, I mean being able to adjust and be flexible. People often say I couldn’t give up *fill in the blank*. I can honestly say I could give up anything. I know the time will come when I will even give up alcohol or coffee for extended periods of time. So far I have only gone months at a time. I have tried the whole foods only diet, vegan diet, sattvic diet and intermittent fasting. All of these have taught me something different. The ideal for me is a combination. A lot of vegetables, whole foods vegan meals, occasional meat plates about once a week and brekkies based around eggs, treats whenever I feel like, which is a few times a month. Whenever I feel like I have lost my way, this is what I come back to. 

Of course there are slight exceptions to these, like pregnancies or the depression I have gone through moving back to the Czech Republic. 

When Josie was born, it was not a question to be asked. She ate home cooked whole foods. I don’t remember when she tasted normal ice cream, but I think we managed at least two years without any processed foods or sugar, obviously except for what’s naturally occurring in wholefoods. Having no family around to “spoil” them and eating the same way ourselves, it was really an easy task and nothing to think about. 

Josie enjoying her oat milk babychino, available in every café in Australia, not so much in the Czech Republic and definitely don’t ask for it outside of Prague.

There were times when Josie wasn’t eating everything we have prepared and it drove me crazy, worrying for nothing though as kids simply go through phases and I know that now. This was a short text I wrote during one of those times: 

My dearest Josefina has not been eating properly for weeks. WEEKS! I cooked the best meals. New recipes, old recipes, recipes I knew she ate and loved before. Every time, without fail, she takes one look (look, not bite): “I don’t like it” whiny voice. My blood boiling, I am still trying to keep the “light conversation at dinner table” as recommended by all the “respecting parent” handbooks. Days go by, she’s still not eating, her diet consisting of goji berries, dates, an occasional coconut yoghurt, if I am lucky, maybe an omelette. Our joint parental patience has slowly disappeared, we try pleading, bribing, negotiating. At one point, I seriously considered starving her out. *Every respecting parent’s jaw now dropped, some gasping for air.* I am a big believer that everything comes from the gut. Having changed my diet (and my life) around the age of 24, I don’t want my kids having to get to the same point I had to and it’s so important to me they eat whole foods. Today she finally ate a normal dinner and I couldn’t help myself. I told her it makes me happy when she eats what I cook. No, I don’t want her to do things to make other people happy and forget about her own needs, but I was genuinely relieved. So I ask where’s the line between being a respecting parent, but at the same time staying authentic? I don’t force Josie to say please and thank you because I think she will learn to say it when I say it enough. At the same time there’s a big difference between her yelling at me: “More water!!” (me feeling like a lousy servant) or “Can I have more water?” (me feeling like a helpful mother). I thought about it the whole time as I was breastfeeding number two to sleep tonight and I came to the conclusion that respect starts with respecting yourself first and not constantly stepping over your own beliefs so you never waver from the respecting parent handbook. 

On my own I felt super content eating like this, protecting my choices from other people’s comments. With kids it’s different, not so much in Australia where everything was still under our “regime” and most of our friends had a very similar outlook on things, but here in homeland, it’s incredibly hard. It’s just not cruising anymore to eat like we are used to. I realised that with the options that are in stores, with how much our relatives are commenting, judging, buying things that we don’t want to eat and giving sugary stuff to our kids, staying true to what we feel is best, became an absolute chore and a hysterical attempt. We had to let go in some places. Find a more sustainable, loving outlook, because when you have to give a speech and a lengthy explanation before every bite, it’s no longer a natural way to eat and I thought it can create different traumas to mine when it comes to food. 

It’s also super tiring explaining to people that just because the candy is vegan, it does not mean it’s healthy. Just because it’s marketed for kids, it does not mean it’s healthy. No, sugar in apples is not the same as the sugar in cake. The worst of all is explaining that being skinny doesn’t mean being healthy. There’s so many diseases to which a sugary/dairy diet can contribute to. Yes, it’s absolutely natural that I want to protect my kids from these. No, I am not being a terrible mum for denying them these and cooking every single day. Yes, you ate like this too and you are absolutely fine. If by absolutely fine you mean you are ok with psoriasis, diabetes, allergies, unhealthy body and literally all the other million issues that you complain about, but refuse to admit that your diet is directly impacting how you feel. This is me writing all the things I want to say, but can’t because nobody listens and I am also a little scared.  

So what’s my take on things now? I don’t know. On one hand it goes against every fibre of my being to let little kids eat processed foods because I feel like they have a whole lifetime ahead of them to make mistakes. On the other hand, I am so tired. Tired is the perfect word. I am tired of fighting everyone else. I am tired of explaining it to my kids. I am tired of cooking several times a day and being told that they don’t like it. I am even tired to be healthy myself because everything since the return has been bringing me down so I just go through the path of least resistance. Lately the path feels like the one of an alcoholic. 

I guess I just have to come back to what I feel is best and model it to those around me. Force and over explaining does not help a thing. Damn it, eating healthy was just that much easier when the only person I cared about was me. 

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