I really love healthy, fresh food. I giggle over fresh greens at the farmers market, squeal with delight over a bright quinoa salad, and would probably enjoy a grilled fish and vegetable plate for dinner most nights of the week. Because of that affinity, it’s what I often share in this space and on social media. Healthy food can sometimes seem dull or time consuming, so when I find something tasty and wholesome, I snap a picture.
However, as I was road-tripping down to Georgia on Tuesday to visit family, the girls and I were seeking out lunch and didn’t stop until we saw a familiar red sign promising lemonade and chicken nuggets:
And as I finished Hailey’s last fry for her, I thought about how my definition of healthy has continued to evolve, even over the last year or two.
I believe I’ve given a rough sketch of my background before. After college, “healthy” meant frozen meals and diet coke. Then it went to diabetic exchange and calorie counting. From there it evolved into more of a whole foods based diet. At my peak of this particular time, I was trying to make brownies with black beans and sneak quinoa into everything. There is nothing wrong with that, but I don’t do that as much anymore.
Now I am adapting to a more all-encompassing view of health that balances mind, body, and soul. I eat whole foods to make my body feel energetic. But I also believe that chili without Fritos isn’t really worth eating.
Translation: I want to be healthy in the nutrients I eat, but also in my mental state. There is no place in my expanded view of healthy for deprivation. For me that means chili will always be served with sour cream (rarely, if ever, swapped out for Greek yogurt) and Fritos.
And while I genuinely enjoy and believe in exposing my kids to a variety of unique foods, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m serving them chopped kale salad with grilled octopus everyday for lunch.
With the girls at ages 5 and 2 (almost 3), I want them to enjoy and explore nutritious food. I want them to understand it will make them sleep well and run fast, but I am equally interested in trying my best to make sure they don’t develop any complexes about food either. So when we’re at a ball game and their eyes light up at a helmet full of cold, sweet, BBs masquerading as ice cream, I’m not going to check the ingredient label before letting them dig in.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that for a couple of years, coinciding with my pregnancies and the rise of the word “superfood,” I really was a super “clean” eater. Today, however, I’d describe myself as a healthy eater and overall food lover. Since I talk about food so much in this space, I felt like I owed a little update on what healthy looks like to me. Sometimes I feel pressure to stick to a genre I’ve created for myself, and though healthy eating is a big part of who I am, I don’t want to feel like I’m cheating if someone sees me digging into a big ‘ol basket of hot wings while watching a football game.
And while on a 10 hour road trip, I’ll definitely pack raisins, bell pepper strips, and hummus for snacks, on a 4 hour trip to mom and dad’s house, I’ll most likely swing by a Chick-fil-A and call it a day.
Has your definition of healthy eating evolved over time?
What does it currently look like to you?