|Kermit the Frog in public domain shot from Macy's Parade|
After spending the last week in cars, airplanes and hotels, I feel closely bonded to Kermit the Frog as he laments... "It's not easy being green!" It is very challenging to eat well on the go in this country. And while I prescribe to the 80/20 rule of eating that says if you eat well 80% of the time, don't worry so much about what happens for the other 20%, it is still hard to do for a whole week. When I am just thinking about me, it is a bit easier as I find ways to work with the constraints I am given. For example, on an airplane I simply choose plain water, no ice for my drink and decline the carbohydrate kibble that is handed out in ever shrinking packages. I always bring a snack bag with me that has a few things to nibble on such as beef jerky, nuts (properly soaked and roasted if I have time to do it before I leave), dried fruit, snacks with Coconut Oil and such. I've even been known to bring cans of smoked oysters or clams with me and eat that as a snack even though most folks think I am just a big 'ol weirdo when I pop open my slimy, oily oysters and down them. In fact that's exactly what I ate at the top of the Continental Divide this past summer as I hiked in the Rocky Mountains. Good thing I didn't run into any bears!
It is the extra challenge of traveling with children that brings the degree of difficulty up to 10.0 status. I have no desire to drink apple juice now that I know what it can do to blood sugar levels or have hot chocolate made from a list of twenty chemicals... so it is not a problem for me at all to resist the airline fare. But for kids, it is a different story. If a child eats well most of the time I don't mind a special treat every now and then but when you have someone that doesn't always eat well for the 80% of the time, adding the extra 20% just makes it worse.
Of course, if I had a stronger backbone, I could just simply say no to everything but that is extra hard to do when you are out of the home and there are not always better choices in easy reach. It is the constant barrage of bad food options... from the kiddie meals that are all mac n cheese, pizza or chicken nuggets to the gas stations with the candy and gum assaulting you from the moment you enter... it is just hard to be the mean guy all the time. And of course the food marketers know this, which is why they put all the bad stuff at the end caps right near the register and know that harried parents will sometimes cave and buy the stuff just to avert a public meltdown. Of course it is not right, but it is human.
All of this reminds me of a quote from Maya Angelou that says "You did then what you knew how to do and when you knew better... you did better! And that is certainly true for me. Before I spent the last 8 years reading labels and educating myself about food, I did not give any thought to eating a bag of chips, or having a soda or eating bagels, muffins or pastry for breakfast. But now I do know better! And sometimes that is the hardest part. Because I have to be the "odd-ball," the "weirdo" and all the other names that some people probably whisper under their breath when they see me coming. And I think that is probably part of why I have started this blog. If I can gently nudge anyone to make even one better choice, then that's why I am doing this. And hopefully by sharing some of my own struggles I can convey that even for people who do know better, it is still hard sometimes. We need to be kind to each other and try to support one another on this journey to health, recognizing that we are all good people on different stages on this path.
But just when I feel overwhelmed with the job of being "different" I remember things like a Gallop Health Index Poll reporting that over 60% of Americans are overweight or obese. Our country has a national eating problem. And I care about people very much. I believe that we all have unique gifts to share with the world to make it a better place. But when we don't eat the right things, we don't have the extra energy we need to go beyond our own day to day survival and we can't fully share these gifts with the world as God intended us to do. So today, I salute the people who swim against the current and stand up for what they believe in! You make our world a better place. If you have an example to share of how you've swam against the food tide or have any tips on how to help kids want to make better food choices for themselves, let me know! The public domain photo of Kermit the Frog can be accessed here.
This post has also been shared on Monday-Mania at the Healthy Home Economist!