I think I’ve mentioned before I grew up on the Standard American Diet (SAD). I ate sugar cereal for breakfast, junk food at lunch, and dessert every night. When I was in my teens, I skipped meals and just ate candy or donuts or cookies. Don’t get me wrong, my dad cooked a homemade dinner nearly every night, but being that my taste buds had made themselves comfy with the flavors of processed food, I rarely liked the delicious Indian food he set before me.
Fast forward about 30 years, until right before Superman’s diagnosis with Celiac disease. We had 5 kids and I thought I was doing a great job by giving them “healthy” cereals for breakfast, sandwiches at lunch, and lots of homemade baked goodies. I always bought “whole grain” and thought that by buying the regular goldfish crackers instead of those colored ones, I was one up on the rest of the world. Then, after Superman’s diagnosis and realization that going gluten-free for him wasn’t sufficient, I read “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf. I decided we’d give it a go as a family, and after the first month, couldn’t believe the health improvements I saw in myself, as well as our kids. That was reason enough to continue with a pretty strict Paleo diet for about a year.
That was the healthiest year of our lives. As I’ve said before, our son’s allergies, asthma, and eczema disappeared. My joint pain was gone. Superman was actually starting to stabilize, and it was our first year not getting a flu shot, and we didn’t get sick. I think the kids maybe had one cold that winter, and it was just runny noses. It was amazing.
The second year was more about discovering what could work long term for our family. Obviously, we go to family functions, and there’s no one else on either side of our family who eats like we do. The kids go to birthday parties. We go to restaurants sometimes, and other times, we just. want. some. ice cream!
I slowly began to give the kids more responsibility in choosing their foods outside of our house. If we go to a family function, I usually tell them to pick what they want to eat. If we go to a restaurant, I point out to them what choices would be the best, but let them ultimately pick. I don’t want the kids to see me as a food nazi…I want them to make choices and then to realize that those choices will make a difference in how they feel. Plus, this way I don’t feel like a nagging mom all the time telling them “you can’t have that” or “sorry, honey, that’s not Paleo.” Yes, there were and are times where I make choices for them…they are children, after all. But at some point they will be grown up and living on their own, and will need to make educated choices for themselves, and I want them to be ready for that. It has been such a blessing to see our kids learn how to make healthy choices and to know why they are making that choice!
Initially, I would feel guilty if I veered from the “Paleo” guidelines, thinking I was doing something awful to my insides (or allowing the kids to harm themselves by ingesting grains). Then I realized there is no one diet that is perfect for everyone. There is no perfection. I do feel strongly about wheat, however, and we never (well, almost never) have it in our house. Every once in awhile the kids and I will indulge in a “real” pizza since there is just nothing like it, but wheat to me is something to be avoided. Mostly because it’s just not what it used to be.
So, there you have it. I don’t like to label myself “Paleo” because I’m really not…I eat lots of absolutely delicious baked goods, and a true “Paleo” diet doesn’t consist of much of that. But I will say we eat mostly grain-free, with some indulgences now and then. Heck, a good batch of popcorn (organic, non-GMO of course!) is one of my all-time favorite treats. And that’s perfect for us. No guilt. No shame. And I don’t like to say I’m “Paleo” because if I do, any time I veer off the “path,” it is considered a failure. I just like to eat good, healthy, clean food as often as possible.