If you know me in real life, you know that I’m the epitome of Libra/Enneagram 4/INFJ and I just don’t really want to fit neatly into any boxes. I like to see all sides of issues, make thoughtful decisions on a case-by-case basis, and I just really struggle with any kind of overly dogmatic lifestyle. I’ve noticed I live a lot of life in that grey, in-between space, straddling the line between all of the most divisive parenting issues, and our diet is NO EXCEPTION. Since recipes/meal planning/food stuff is something I’ve wanted to post more of, and people have asked about, I thought I’d take a minute to explain a little more about what we eat (and don’t eat) and why:
We don’t eat gluten
Benny and I have celiac disease, which, in case you’ve never been at a party with me, is a hereditary autoimmune disease in which a defective antibody perceives the gluten (protein found in wheat and other grains) as a foreign body that must be attacked, resulting in (most commonly) disgusting digestive issues and other chronic health problems. No, it is not an allergy, and no, there is 0% chance Benny will grow out of it someday. The only treatment is not eating gluten, and, because the immune system is a cruel mistress, even small amounts of gluten can create long term problems and the more you eat the worse the reactions get. SO we can never have anything gluten in the house, except for a loaf of bread for Alice to make herself sandwiches and toast with because the poor thing has to eat an unnecessarily gluten free diet because this mom is NOT cooking twice.
We don’t eat meat
Ok * I * don’t eat meat (chicken, beef, pork, etc), for a complicated web of social and environmental reasons. So I don’t cook meat and the kids never have it at home. They’re allowed to eat it at restaurants and other people’s houses, but, in all honesty they don’t even always choose it.
We do eat eggs
I was vegan for several years when I was a teenager and I’m going to be honest, that diet just didn't work for me health-wise. I need some animal fat and protein in there or I’m just really weak and generally not well. Eggs work well to get some extra fat and protein in while being less delicious than cheese so I can keep a better control over portions (we’ll get to that later). While ideally I’d like to only buy pasture-raised eggs, that’s just not financially an option for us, so, I just buy regular white store eggs.
We do eat fish and seafood (but not often)
Ok so I have this thing where I absolutely 100% COULD NOT eat an animal that there is any potential I could become friends with. But I don’t see this potential in any kind of fish or ocean animal (except maybe whales but whale has never been an option presented to me), so we do eat fish occasionally. But mainly just cans of (line caught) tuna. We used to eat a lot of fish (and by a lot I mean at most twice a week which is probably not actually a lot), but in an effort to be more fiscally and environmentally conscious with our food purchases (farmed fish is bad and sustainable fish is too expensive), I don’t buy fish for our like, normal home dinners anymore.
We don’t eat dairy*
Ok here’s where things get tricky: Benny can not have any dairy at all or he gets really gross digestive problems, and if I’m going to have to choose between being bossed around by food or by poop, I’m going to pick food. I can (word used loosely) eat dairy but it turns out that if I eat too much my fibromyalgia-related inflammation gets really bad, so, in general, I don’t eat dairy. Ok I do but I almost always regret it. Recently we’ve found that both of us tolerate raw, unpasteurized dairy really well, but that’s kind of spendy so we also use a lot of dairy alternatives like coconut cream, oat milk, and cashew cheese. Again poor Alice gets the short end of the stick because she has no dietary issues at all.
We don’t have treats at home
This is less of a “teaching the kids healthy habits” rule and more of a “mom has a problem with stress eating and doesn’t trust herself to just not eat all the treats” rule, but, it’s one that I’m really happy that we made. 1. because in general I think we make better food choices when a treat isn’t an option, and 2. because it makes when we DO go get a treat a lot more enjoyable/easy not to overindulge.
I don’t do snacks
So I do that mean french mom thing where the kids get the meals I make and thats it. I don’t limit portions at meals, and I won’t make them finish a meal. But if they leave a lot, I’ll pop that in the fridge for when they ask for a snack and they want more later, they can have nuts or fruit that they can get for themselves. Funnily enough they have yet to be hungry enough between meals to take me up on any of that…
I make as much as I can from scratch
There are two main reasons for this one: price and sustainability. We’ve gone through phases where we had NO grocery money, and those times taught me that there are SO MANY things you can make for SO MUCH cheaper than you can buy, and more recently as I’ve gotten into the zero-waste thing, it’s also probably the easiest way to reduce kitchen waste (both food and packaging). So our pantry and fridge are chock full of recycled jars filled with homemade sauces, peanut butter, hummus, granola, etc.
We don’t eat organic
I mean I’d like to, but I just can’t justify the price difference. We typically shop at Sprouts, and their prices for organic produce are often close enough to do some organic produce, and when I buy tofu I always get organic because soy (and it’s only 30 cents more), but… as far as our other grains and any other dry or packaged goods? Organic is not a priority we can have right now.
We eat out kind of a lot
For someone that spends so much time in the kitchen, I don’t actually enjoy cooking that much. Our take-out options are kind of slim between Benny and I, but… given the option, I’d much rather just pick something up instead of forcing myself to cook or pack food. And I don’t feel even a teeny bit guilty about it, since our at-home diet is really clean and budget-conscious.
I don’t police what the kids eat outside the home
Ok so we’ve gone over that our diet at home is pretty strict, but I don’t carry that with us when we’re out. With the exception of Benny’s allergies, the kids can eat whatever they want when we’re at restaurants or parties. This isn’t really a hill I’m willing do die on, and honestly generally, they do a really good job of regulating themselves, since they’re not eating junk all the time, their bodies don’t really want/like it.
So if that was confusing, I hear you. It’s confusing to explain to someone who heard me mention “vegan cheese” that we’re not vegan, or when I ask a restaurant multiple questions about their allergy menu and then Alice orders a grilled cheese sandwich. I don’t have a name for how we eat, sometimes if I try to label it I’ll say some combination of “low-waste-gluten-free-plant-based” but that’s a mouthful and doesn’t seem entirely accurate anyway…
But, if you’ve been creeping on my Instagram and rightly confused about our dietary ethos/restraints. This is it. And moving forward to any future food posts, this is kinda where it’s all coming from.