I recently came across a saying that really struck a chord with me; particularly after an experience I had a few months ago. It reads: If you’re interested, you’ll do what’s convenient. But if you’re committed, you’ll do whatever it takes.
A week before Mother’s Day, I received a thank you note via email from a client to whom I had just sent a gift basket for her birthday. Besides a sincere appreciation for the thoughtfulness, she wrote, “For the record, I want you know that I am someone who finds the decorated-with-candy chocolate-covered non-organically grown fruit pieces in a large plastic container edged with sugary frosting thoroughly horrifying, and it makes me sad that resources were expended to make it and to deliver it to me.”
The note continued:
“Anyone who eats, and who is raising children, should know how their food is produced and what the ramifications are of their food choice dollars.”
Her candid message caught my attention. It echoed concerns I had about my own family’s eating habits and how I struggle as a busy mom to help my kids develop healthy choices in a food culture that saturates our taste buds with so much sugar, sodium, fats, and preservatives.
I felt motivated. So I picked up the phone and had a long conversation with my client who graciously provided a thorough, well-informed explanation of her decades of learning about how food is produced and how she integrates this knowledge into everyday choices for families she consults. She shared useful food and health articles, websites, personal recipes, and in particular, her practical advice and encouragement. At the end of the call, my attitude towards food completely changed.
On Mother’s Day weekend I took charge. I cleaned out our refrigerator and pantry at home, tossing out all the foods with unnatural ingredients. Then I replenished the shelves with only fresh, organic produce and fruits. It was extra work and money but I felt satisfaction because I took the first steps toward a healthy change for myself and my family.
Oh the outcry I got from my family! My husband dubbed me a “health nut” and my kids protested, “We don’t like Organic Mom!” And they quickly stashed away the last bags of unhealthy snacks and sweets.
In the following weeks despite complaints and doubts from my family, including my own self-doubt, I stuck to my game plan and shopped for only fresh, healthy foods and produce bolstered by a direct home delivery service from a local organic farm. I learned recipes to cook more family meals, dined out less, and gave extra time in the mornings to prep lunches for my kids for school and camp. As I gradually make more mindful choices about food, an essential part of my life, I have come to realize how similar the pattern is between changing our relationship with food and changing our relationship with money.
Make a commitment to own it.
I used to rely on others—my husband, my mother, and the school cafeteria—to provide food choices for my kids. It was out of convenience, but also because I felt daunted by the task of overhauling unhealthy food conventions. Owning the responsibility of my family’s diet changed my attitude from being a victim to feeling empowered. Like food, money is also an essential source of energy we need on a daily basis to live well. It is vital to first commit to a plan toward better dietary and money habits that will impact our well-being now and later. We simply cannot afford to brush off the responsibility.
Knowledge is power.
A simple phone call and chat with my client was one of the most important steps I took to learn about healthier food choices. Without reliable information, I would still convince myself our current eating habits were acceptable. Poor money habits have the same effect. We learn these habits from childhood, from our society, and we accept these as normal. But it all begins with education, and knowledge is power! My client gave me the nudge I needed and her knowledge of healthy foods gave me the confidence to take action.
Less is more, less is better.
The food industry produces an abundance of cheap foods and often encourages us to buy more food than we typically eat, resulting in a lot of wasted food. The same goes for other purchase decisions we make. When we buy and consume more than we need, value decreases. It is good to remember that quality is more important than quantity. For example, owning less can free up our energy to take care of things and buy insurance to protect them. Having a smaller home can force us to use space more efficiently, accumulate less junk, and create more intimacy for family members.
You cannot fight the battle alone.
Old habits die hard, as people say. When I decided to break from our old patterns of eating and spending on food, I knew I couldn’t make the healthier lifestyle plan work by myself. I needed support. So I convinced my mother to help me prepare meals for the kids with only “approved” ingredients. When my husband realized the changes were not “just a phase” and saw the health benefits with the kids, he too became more supportive. My client also was very encouraging, sending me educational websites, cooking recipes, and keeping track of my progress.
Having the support I needed during the transition was critical and invaluable. This is the very reason I host our Women’s Circle on a regular basis. Many changes in life are difficult and require not just our own will power but also the encouragement of those around us whether they are friends, family, or strangers who are willing to share their common experiences, knowledge, pure love and intention with us.
It has been several months since my family embarked on this journey to be more mindful of the food we eat. We already feel the difference in our body and energy level. Dining is no longer just about filling up our stomach or satisfying our taste buds, it also brings a sense of connection with the earth and nature knowing where the food comes from and how it nourishes our body. In time, I know the extra effort and commitment to a healthier diet will be much more rewarding for me and my family than doing what is convenient.