Sunday, May 4, 2014

Healthy vs. Healthiest

I'm a perfectionist by nature.

I can tend to focus on the things that I'm not doing right. 

In most cases that means that if I feel that I can't do something right then I just won't do it at all...that definitely isn't a correct way of thinking.

I'm also a mom who wants to feed her family as healthy as possibly but on this topic alone I've often felt like a failure, until recently.

Recently I have had some significant changes in my own way of thinking about food. Like realizing that just because something is "FDA approved" doesn't mean that it is actually good for your body. However, I've also felt confused when I would be making "wise choices" about food, or so I thought, only to find out there was a better option. Yes, I'm going to say it...organic. 

Organic vs. non-organic

I was walking through an organic co-op with a friend and saw a pint of strawberries for $6. My jaw just about dropped to the floor. I realize that might not always be the normal price for organic strawberries. However, it had me playing out a scenario in my mind about what it would look like if I decided that the only and best option for eating strawberries was to buy the $6 organic ones. (First of all, I am convinced we would never eat strawberries again!) If I did happen to scrape together $6 for one pint, it would be similar to having gold in the refrigerator and I would be hanging onto each strawberry tightly while whispering, "my precious!"

By today's standards organic seems to be the best, the healthiest. 

However, I'm not giving my kids the healthiest option.

And given my perfectionist personality normally under these circumstances I would just throw in the towel on the topic. "Well, I'm never going to be good enough at teaching my kids about healthy choices so I might as well not even try."

And then one day my husband compared the whole topic of non-organic vs. organic to healthy vs. healthiest. It's not about whether we're eating organic or not, but about whether we're eating healthy. And I thought to myself, he is totally right...since when did eating fruits and vegetables become a bad thing?

So we started taking steps to eat healthier without feeling like we had to be the healthiest. Sometimes that meant fresh produce and other times it meant in-season organic at a good price. There was once a time when I never would have shelled out so much money for fresh produce. But my way of thinking has shifted to giving our kids healthy options, teaching them about making healthy choices...and about balance


On a weekly basis, below, are the fresh fruits and veggies that I stock in our kitchen. Most of this will be consumed within 4-5 days after grocery day. While this particular shopping trip may have cost me $32, it is money well spent when you consider that it will cover multiple meals and snacks and is a much better option than junk food.



These items may not be organic but my kids are learning the value of fresh, delicious, wholesome, goodness! In the end we want to start making healthier choices about what we eat even if it's not the healthiest option.

I want my kids to know that eating fruits and vegetables is normal...that it is a balanced part of being healthy. I want our home to be stocked with options where there is more than enough to share with friends and where my kids aren't going to find mommy in the corner gripping the strawberries with a glazed over look on her face.

Balance and eating healthy is simply a great place to start. 


Have you ever struggled with the difference between healthy and healthiest? What are your thoughts?

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17 comments:

  1. YES!! My husband and I have battled obesity from childhood. We spent a lot of time talking about what we would want for our child(ren) if/when we had them and how we would do things differently. We did, indeed have a daughter, who is now 4. She has always been given whatever we eat, which is a pretty wide array of foods. She eats pretty much anything put in front of her. (Other than liver, which she immediately scraped off of her tongue with her fingers! LOL) She loves sushi, calamari, pickled herring, spinach, brussel sprouts, etc... We've recently switched to a vegan lifestyle after watching Forks Over Knives and while we're enjoying it, I cannot bring myself to purchase all organic produce. I'm not just frugal, I'm cheap! I have had much guilt about this, but love your take on the subject. We're choosing healthier options, that's what counts. :)

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  2. Keturah Pestel Have you heard about the dirty dozen and clean fifteen? Annual lists from the Environmental Working Group based on tests to know what conventional produce has the most pesticides and which has the least. Basically, the idea is to limit your pesticide exposure and maximize your wallet by buying organic for the dirty dozen and you can buy conventional for the clean 15. We have changed over to that. An example is grapes. Foreign grapes, like from Chile, are high in pesticides. We stopped buying those. But California grapes aren't as high, and we still buy those conventional. Unfortunately berries are on the dirty dozen, but we planted a bunch of them in our yard to help counter that and we do eat them less but it's in the summer when organic tends to be on sale (often $2.50-3 a pound, so I don't stand over them and say precious as I might at $6 a pound). Life is a journey, good job with using fruits and veg!

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    1. Keturah,

      I have heard a little bit about that before. Most of the things listed on the dirty dozen are some of our favorite foods...apples, strawberries, grapes, peppers, cucumbers. Personally, I'm ok with buying those items non-organic (and washing them really good!) if it means having healthier options on hand instead of less healthy, junk food options. You are right, life is definitely a journey! :-)

      ~Sarah

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    2. In case anyone is interested, here's the link. The list changes annually, too. We started for us changing over (I'm including this not to convince anyone, but provide resources in case someone is interested and also to say that I have found I was able to still have very reasonable produce costs by changing my shopping habits (buying fruit in season (conventional or organic) is the way to get it cheapest) and using alternative options (finding vendors at the farmer's market who grow without pesticides, so it's local and without pesticides, even if not certified organic.) For example, my apple guy at the farmers market sells 5 gallon buckets of apples for $12-25 dollars depending on apple type, which works out to be as cheap or cheaper than regular apples. The other good thing is that many of the things on the Clean 15 are also favorites, like avocados, corn, kiwi, pineapple, mangos, and more. http://www.ewg.org/foodnews

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    3. Thanks for sharing your tips Keturah! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  3. I have struggled with this same thing! it' nice hearing someone talk about it :) my fridge is currently filled with some organic, some non-organic produce...but it's a win in my book if our kids are eating either! btw, I LOVE your blog - you are really inspirational to me!

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  4. Oh My goodness...I totally feel you on this post. I have one son (22mo) and another on the way in June. I struggle every time I go to the store to pick the best and freshest options for our family. He has never been given jarred baby food, but I remember struggling over the organic vs non organic. Its just like you said tho, since when did eating vegetables and fruit become a bad thing? So I buy frozen, I buy fresh, I buy only the quantity we will eat in a week. Wash everything best I can and move on. Hes not eating cookies and sugared cereals, and candy...hes eating blueberries by the handful, and grapes, and bananas. I couldn't be happier. When my son comes into the kitchen and looks at the counter and asks for an app-pul or nana or aaarrrrnnnggg, I know Ive won.

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  5. I'm just so thankful to be able to feed my kids! Before getting too mired in the conversation, I try to remember that SO many moms around the world cannot do so, let alone choose from myriad grocery stores, tons of brands, every version imaginable - shredded! sliced! cubed! shapes! For many, food is merely about survival. We have choices and options and opinions and resources...so it's important to remember what a blessing it is to even struggle with such things!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing Parker, I completely agree!

      ~Sarah

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    2. Yes, this is true. We are currently living in Peru (in the states, we have a significant portion of our food budget that goes toward organic food, we are gluten free because of celiac disease, but we hardly eat out at all to compensate). Here in Peru, there are TONS of fruit and vegetable options, and we even found a woman at a market who sells mostly organic veg. But organic fruit is pretty much unheard of and certainly most people here don't have as much disposable income as is common in states. It's also interesting in a different culture what food is important. Fruits and vegetables aren't. People here live mostly on starches/grains (white bread, white rice, potatoes) and meat. Traditional foods like maca and quinoa have skyrocketed in price here in Peru as they have been "discovered" by people in places like the US and they are starting to be much more expensive here as it becomes more profitable to export these foods. We are very much an interconnected world.

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  6. I'm right with you, Parker. I've wrestled with this whole organic vs.non-organic, gluten vs. gluten free, etc, etc. debate and while I realize that people have good reasons for making the choices they do, I realized that one of my main motivations for desiring the more expensive version of fresh foods was fear, which is certainly not from the Lord. Another thing that I feel the Lord has impressed on my heart (full realizing that He will speak individually and specifically to each individual who seeks His wisdom on the subject) is that the difference between buying my $1.19/lb. strawberries and $6.99/lb. strawberries could literally be the difference between someone in the world eating (at all) or not eating... for weeks. How can I best steward the resources God has given me? Maybe there are instances when the more expensive (healthiest) version of a food is the wisest choice for my family, but I am sensitive to the notion that many times it might not be, especially if those resources can be directed toward feeding those who truly have nothing to eat. Just a thought. Good conversation- Love your thoughts Sarah and others who have commented.

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    1. Thanks Kristen, I'm right there with you!

      ~Sarah

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    2. I think that is a good point. All of life is about tradeoffs. E.g. we haven't had cable ever and we got internet in home only after 5 years of marriage and having kids (getting out to the library to check email seemed less likely). We scrimp and save on some things to have more money to give away and spend other places that are more important to us. Stewarding whatever resources you have is something that benefits from thoughtful consideration.

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    3. Keturah,

      Well put, thanks for sharing! :-)

      ~Sarah

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