Guilt, Balance and Food

As a mom, I complain about two things continuously. Guilt and balance.  I feel guilty cutting hours at work to spend time with the kids and even more guilty when I work too much. Yikes. Is there a perfect balance?  I struggle with feeling at peace about my decisions and feeling totally guilty all the time.  I feel this way about food and nutrition too.

So many people express to me that it’s hard to maintain a balanced diet when always busy, tired and distracted.  And even as a Registered Dietitian, I have a hard time with this as well.  The feelings of guilt wash over me when my kids and I cruise to a fast-food drive-thru, hoping we don’t repeat this trip in a week’s time.  I figured if I never told my 3 yr old the name of the fast food restaurant, he could never tell anyone we ate there. That plan backfired when he started calling Fast food joints “the French fry store.”  Whoops.

I know that planning ahead is the key to having nourishing food on hand when on the go.  I’m a firm believer in “prepping for later” but sometimes I just don’t take the time to do it.  Sure I’m busy, but that’s no excuse.  We are ALL busy.  I know that I can find time for almost anything if I find value in it.  Sometimes, what stops me from planning ahead is the appeal of knowing that wherever I go, there is always food to choose from, healthy or not.

Our culture permits and encourages eating on the go, whenever and wherever.  You cannot walk into a single coffee shop, market, convenience store or friends home without being bombarded with bite sized snacks and treats.  Food companies and manufacturers are providing healthier and or lower calorie options to meet the demands of consumers.  At the grocery store, I know I can grab a hummus and pita to go pack, a yogurt and spoon from the salad bar, fresh fruit and nuts from the convenient store and brown rice chips or oatmeal from the snack machine.  There are more healthy “to go” items available to us than there were just a few years ago.  But what do we really end up choosing?  And our kids?  If they see the bite sized brownies, will they still be excited about cut veggies and fruit?

Another challenge is, when I feel like I want something new, different and easy, it can be hard to break my routine and get creative.  Thats when I know I need to mix it up a bit- try new products, stash new snacks in my car and get my kids excited about whatever it is I’m excited about.  There is no better place and time than when hungry… stuck in the car… in traffic.  I figure if they’re okay with picking old cereal out of the car seats, they may be open to trying a new snack as well.  You hungry?  Great!  Have some dried fruit!

It’s usually knowing how good I will feel after making good decisions that will motivate me.  Sometimes guilt is the motivator. (We are back to the guilt again!)  When I get back on track and get the kids there too, I know that eating healthy is our norm and eating Rice Krispies treats for breakfast is just a little hiccup on our way.  I’m trying not to feel so bad about the hiccups.  It’s all part of our balance.

How do you find your balance?

All the best,

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