Our food philosophy as a family is a skewed balance between eating real, healthy, homemade food (me) and the occasional treat (my husband). There is definitely room for both.
On the whole, we try to buy and cook with real, healthy ingredients as often as we can. We’ve always been pretty healthy eaters, but became more focused on specific ingredients when we discovered that Em had an egg allergy at only 8 months old. Since then, we’ve become pros at reading food labels. While checking for eggs listed as an ingredient in our food, I started noticing the overwhelming presence of other “ingredients” that I didn’t recognize and quite frankly couldn’t often pronounce. And I didn’t like it. I especially didn’t like the idea of putting said ingredients into my little one’s body. I had to make better choices for her.
After researching and reading about both food allergies and these other “ingredients” in many types of packaged and processed foods, we made a gradual shift toward purchasing and cooking with mainly organic and minimally-processed foods (thanks to some guidance from one of my favorite bloggers 100 Days of Real Food). And although our produce bill is slightly higher these days (counterbalanced by the less money we spend in the middle aisles of the grocery store), we think it’s worth it. Once you’ve read about this stuff, you just can’t unlearn it.
In the name of keeping some sort of sane balance in our lives, I admit that we don’t shy away from sugar now and then, mainly because I LOVE to bake. And when we’re away from home or out with friends, I only slightly cringe when someone offers Em a processed snack. I typically let her have what’s being offered in an effort t0 1) allow her to enjoy some treats that her peers are also enjoying and 2) not create an atmosphere where certain foods are taboo. Even though my current agenda for her eating habits includes all things healthy and organic, it’s more important to me that she learns to take pleasure in eating things she enjoys because eating is a social experience. As she gets older, I hope our conversations about food and our time spent in the kitchen together will help her make informed decisions about what she puts into her own body.
At home, however, I’m a firm believer that kids should eat what we eat. Real food. Yes, we eat our fair share of pasta and applesauce, but we’re also encouraging Em to try salmon, veggie fajitas and pork loin. Although she’s pretty good about at least trying everything we make, she certainly doesn’t love every recipe, and that’s okay. If Jon and I like it, we’ll make it another time and encourage her to try it again. That’s all we can do.