Ever heard someone say it is so much harder and more time consuming to cook dinner every night? Or that eating healthy costs so much more money? Or that wearing special shoes or taking a miracle pill will help you tone your body and lose weight? Well today I’m putting on my myth-buster hat and tackling all of these.
We’ll start with “it’s so much easier to pick up fast food on your way home from work rather than cook dinner” with a peek into a day of my life. This particular day was crazier than most. I headed off to work in the morning leaving Baby Sister with her nanny after scooting Big Sister out the door to walk to school. (Yes, my kid walks to school – shouldn’t every kid?) I worked a typical day except that I had to leave a couple of hours early since Big Sister’s dance studio decided once again to conduct business as if none of the dance moms actually work outside the home. Meaning specifically that she had to be in full hair and make-up and across town by 4:30 for the annual team photo shoot. Awesome, since I don’t usually get off work until 5:30.
I left the office at 3:00, rushed home while project managing Big Sister’s efforts from the phone in the car, and did the fastest make-up and hair I think I’ve ever done including ringlets. Big Sister has stick straight and super thick hair – I love that she did not get my curls except for when she wants curly hair and it becomes a chore. Thank god for my Chi and my ability to use it for creating curls in addition to it’s straightening properties. Of course Murphy was alive and well since the shirt I’d bought her the night before was too big through the chest when she put it on. I had to get creative with safety pins because I didn’t have time to whip out the sewing machine to take in the sides. We left the house only ten minutes behind schedule leaving Baby Sister with Daddy and hoping they were correct that the shoot would only take an hour. Pictures were fabulous and we were headed back across town by 5:30 now hoping traffic wasn’t too bad.
This was also the night of our first neighborhood walk-about which we never miss. During warm weather months, two or three different families host little block party gatherings so that everyone can wander around and mingle with each other, catch up on gossip and meet any new people who have moved in. It started at 6:30.
Here’s where the myth comes in. Considering I only had an hour to drive across town, feed my kids dinner and head out to the next activity, society would say I had to pick up either burgers or a $5 Hot n’ Ready pizza on my way home. But NO! Instead I went straight home, browned up some ground turkey, made it into taco meat and served my kids taco’s. Well, Big Sister prefers to eat her taco fixin’s atop corn chips instead of in the crunchy shells and Baby Sister prefers little individual piles of cheese and meat, etc to eat as finger foods so basically, I ate tacos. The point is, it took me no more time than it would have to sit in the long ass line I passed at the Wendy’s as I drove by. Not to mention how much healthier my choice of meals was by comparison. Plus, now I have an extra pound of taco meat in my fridge to eat left-overs in the next couple of days when I’m in an even tighter pinch for dinner – say tonight when Big Sister has to be at the dance studio by 6:30.
I cook ninety-five percent of the time at home. It isn’t always quick and easy but it is always better than anything else I could feed my family. The extra effort this activity requires is actually on the front end when you’re doing your grocery shopping. I usually have the basics on hand like spaghetti (I make my own amazing and authentic sauce) or homemade macaroni and cheese (that actually uses cheese and milk instead of powdery blobs of orange chemical concoctions you get in the box). Then I mix things up with a few preplanned meals in mind for the week. We always have tons of fresh fruit in the house and the crisper drawer is always full of veggies. With a little creativity I can throw together many a meal just by opening the refrigerator – even if I don’t know exactly what’s for dinner before I walk in the door from work.
It makes me wonder who exactly “they” are that says it is so much easier to buy crap from a fast-food joint and eat out of a bag every night. Probably the people marketing the crap in a bag from all those different places who only care about their bottom line. And let’s talk about cost! I can feed my family of four for an entire week buying the ingredients to cook my own meals on less than what it would cost to eat out just one meal a day for that same week. This is based on fact since we had way more money left over at the end of the month once we started eating in versus when we were subscribing to the marketing ploys. This was also before I’d pulled my head out of my ass about things like processed foods and high fructose corn syrup evils.
With obesity rates in adults and children alike continually rising, I wonder how long before the general population demands better choices in their food that contribute to better health instead of sacrificing long-term health for the convenience of a packaged dinner or fast food slop. Most of the food we eat isn’t even real food when you look at the ingredient label. When was the last time you had to list the ingredients on a head of lettuce or a bundle of bananas? Even more frightening is how many people I talk to who never even glance at the ingredient list of the ‘food’ they consume every day. When you cook your own meal, using real whole foods you know exactly what you are eating and feeding to your kids.
There was a story in the Washington Post this week about how Sketchers are settling a lawsuit for $40 million. Turns out they were lying when they said wearing their funny looking shoes would tone your lower body without stepping foot into a gym. You can’t tone your lower body by wearing a pair of shoes and sitting on your ass all day any easier than you can lose weight and keep it off by eating some fad diet or taking some pill that causes side effects worse than just keeping the extra weight on. You have to eat real food to nourish your body and burn more calories than you take in every single day. Period. There’s no other way around it. Trust me, I’ve tried it all (minus surgical measures where I drew the line). When is society as a whole going to wake up and realize that corporations are only after one thing – to make money by selling us crap we don’t need – and start listening to common sense again?
I challenge you – if you aren’t doing it already – try cooking for a week and see how easy it really is. You don’t even have to have a recipe box that your mom or grandma handed down to you anymore. All you need is Google – recipes for everything and anything are right at your fingers. It’s an amazing world out there! And if you want a quick, easy to read, common sense book on how to incorporate real food back into your diet, I highly recommend “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” by Michael Pollan. That little book was partly what changed my life years ago and should be required reading for every American – in my humble opinion.