Letting Go of Food Guilt & Shame {Eat Well, Spend Less}

Letting Go of Food Guilt & Shame {Eat Well, Spend Less}
source: Rob Ireton
This month is the two-year anniversary of the Eat Well, Spend Less series! In April of 2011, Jessica from Life as Mom brought together a group of bloggers to share our thoughts on eating well without breaking the budget.

With chefs like Shaina and Aimee participating alongside frugalistas like Carrie and Amy and real food advocates like Katie, I felt like I stuck out a bit from that very first month as the blogger who was just trying to find my way in this crazy healthy eating journey (although I think most of the other bloggers would say that they too feel like it’s a journey!).

However, over the last two years, I’ve made a ton of progress. I started making many of our pantry staples from scratch, taught myself to cook (and found that I actually enjoy it) and welcomed my kids into the kitchen on a more regular basis.

In fact, I would have loved to write this post as a pat on the back as I looked back over the last two years and the progress I’ve made, but a funny thing happened: I got pregnant.

And with this pregnancy came food aversions so strong that I literally could not look at certain foods (namely, vegetables) without feeling the need to run to the bathroom. Out of all the tasks I needed to juggle in the midst of morning sickness and exhaustion, cooking was the one that literally turned my stomach…and therefore the one that I gave up.

I was actually in the middle of a Whole 30 when I got the welcome but surprising news that I was pregnant, and the morning sickness increased at such an alarming rate that I quit the challenge suddenly (after planning to continue throughout my pregnancy). I went from cooking three amazingly delicious and healthy meals a day to avoiding the kitchen at all costs, and on an emergency trip to the grocery store for convenience foods, I felt a little bit of pride when my husband said, “It’s been so long since we’ve had processed food that I don’t even remember what we used to eat.”

Thankfully, a few of our dear friends from our Classical Conversations group provided meals for our family so that they were at least getting a couple healthy, homemade meals a week, but other than that we pretty much lived on boxed and frozen foods.

It got so bad at one point that one morning as I was making french toast and escalloped apples for the girls and I for breakfast, my oldest sat at the breakfast bar across from me and sighed, “It’s really good to have you cooking again.”

Here’s the thing: I know women deal with morning sickness every day, and many of them still manage to feed their families healthy, whole foods anyway. I’m not saying it can’t be done; I’m just being honest that it wasn’t something I could do. Or maybe more accurately, it wasn’t enough of a priority for me to push through the nausea and exhaustion to do anyway.

And you know what my biggest takeaway from that was? It’s okay.

In our quest to provide healthy meals for our families and our research into the dangers of processed foods, it can be easy to become very, very fearful. It’s easy to become obsessed with food choices and to feel like our children are doomed to get cancer or become obese if we dare to let them have even a tiny bit of high fructose syrup. And it’s easy to make healthy eating our idol, the thing we count on to keep our children healthy and safe, when really there’s no guarantee of that this side of heaven.

I still believe that high fructose corn syrup and food dyes are bad. And I still very much believe that whole foods are good.

But I also think it’s important to show ourselves (and even more importantly, others) grace in this area. It’s okay to have pizza night once a week, to scale back your home cooking or to eat out more often during times of crisis. It’s okay to do the best you can and let go of the rest.

I am so thankful that my morning sickness is disappearing. While I was afraid that my food aversions and “lazyness” would last forever, I’m finding myself excited to head back into the kitchen to cook for my family. And I’m craving veggies like there’s no tomorrow.

I could have lived with guilt over the frozen lasagnas my family was eating while I was curled up in a ball on the couch, but I chose to let go of it and admit that we weren’t eating an ideal diet instead. And honestly? I think that’s healthier for all of us than the alternative.

Eat Well, Spend Less

Read everybody else’s two year updates as well:

Do you struggle with guilt over food choices?

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