I think I mentioned I am going to try to insert a “Mommy Confessions Monday” every couple of Mondays. I also have been tossing around and jotting down notes for a “Wellness Wednesday”! So be on the lookout for more thoughts on Mommy madness on Mondays and health and wellness on Wednesdays!
Seven days and seven nights. A SUPER long and super fantastic family vacation. I was looking most forward to quality family time with no cooking and no clean up. Mission accomplished. I “cook” or prepare 4 to 6 dinners a week for myself and my family as well as mini meals, healthy snacks, and super intentional breakfasts and lunches. I spend many Saturdays prepping for the next week by freezing, chopping or shopping to have healthy options even on nights when I work. Occasionally we eat out, but the majority of meals we eat in…and so the thought of not having to cook and clean up after 30-35 snacks and meals sounded pretty fabulous! And it WAS! I loved walking to the buffet or the main dinning room knowing that I would have wonderful servers taking our orders and then taking our dishes away.
The boat was filled with food. Knowing that our family has been trying to make different choices and options I was so pleased with all that there was to eat: oatmeal, and whole wheat toast for breakfast, stir fry and salad bar for lunch, and a sushi bar every night. There was a fish and vegetarian meal option for the formal dinners. The fruit and vegetables were beautiful. The options were endless!
The boat was also filled with over indulgence. Because it was available 24 hours a day, food portions were out of control. The comments that I overheard concerning food at times saddened and often angered me. There were children under the age of 10 over 100lbs overweight. Those same children were being served 2 and 3 hamburgers, fries, and several desserts. My children (if they ordered off the kids menu) were automatically given french fries or chips as their “side”.
My kids quickly learned that they had choices on the boat. They were given the choice to eat sugars in the morning immediately once they got up…or they could save their sugar intake for a special dessert treat. (Great lesson.) Since they understand simple math we showed them how to read the chocolate milk label explaining that it had 24g of sugar in one serving, and fruit loops had 12g in one small single serving. We explained that they could choose Cheerios that had less than 1g of sugar, or they could choose the chocolate milk…but that would mean no ice cream sundae or special cake at dinner. It was a quick and simple lesson. They were reading the back of every box. May be TMI but I am going to share anyway! By day 2 my kids were not as “regular” as they are at home. We eat a lot of fiber at home! So they were uncomfortable and we quickly decided as a family to up our fiber in-take. Back to the boxes. We read the back and realized that Special K had no significant fiber and really most of the cereals didn’t. So we switched to oatmeal and fruit for breakfast and quickly found everything in good working order. The kids were happy to make these switches and the education and explanation was helpful. I LOVED how they were reading the nutritional information on everything they were putting in their little bodies! To them it was about making a great choice and they were happy after dinner to enjoy a MUCH more delicious melting cake than several sweet sugary cereals and snacks throughout the day!
Food is personal. I overheard a young couple discuss the meal they were about to eat. The man expressed that he was tired of eating hamburgers and hotdogs as apparently they kept missing the main meal times for lunch and so they “had” to eat from the grill. The girl who was very young and several hundred pounds overweight said, “I never get sick of hamburgers and hotdogs.” My heart was sad. Deep down I knew that it was probably true. But I also knew it was very likely that she was sick of being uncomfortable in her own skin. She was sick of the looks and sick of the stares. She was sick or feeling the way she felt most days. Food and the way she felt personally about food (and a myriad of other reasons) had shackled her to the body she was in…and it broke my heart.
On one of the last days I was on the cruise there was a free seminar that was offered to the patrons of the boat:
“Can’t bear the thought of giving up dessert? Got a weakness for pizza? Not to worry. Let our fitness instructors show you how to lose weight and still enjoy the foods you love.”
SERIOUSLY? The seminar was offered at 11am and I read this advertisement at 2pm or you can BET I would have attended and given the entire group a piece of my red-headed mind! We are bombarded with lies. We are told that it is EASY to lose weight…and specifically fat. We are told that we can work out minimally and achieve maximum results.
In this life the road less traveled is FAR from easy. We were never promised an easy life or easy road. We were never promised a carefree easy to maintain body that burns calories like a raging forest fire. We were given a body to care for. We were given a mind to make wise choices. We were given taste buds (yes) but to enjoy the foods that God created for us to enjoy…not the crazy out of control madness that we pretend is “food”…what is a Dorito or a Peep anyway? 90% of the options that were offered on the boat to “fuel” our bodies were JUNK. 99% of the people were consuming them happily. Some had guilt attached, many had emotion attached, many were confused and trying to eat well, but were confused about what actually is healthy, and some were ignorant of the fact that the fuel they were putting in their bodies was actually just rubbish.
Food is a choice. Food is personal. Food is fuel. We have a personal choice to fuel our body with healthy whole foods that give us energy and that move our “system” the way it is supposed to move. Whole foods and specifically vegetables provide a pharmacy of goodness and can even heal our bodies. In light of what I saw and experienced, I realized that this cruise highlighted a very real and deadly epidemic that we face. It is an appetite for something that was never intended to fuel our bodies. To quote my husband, “we have become a slave to our tastebuds”…and that slavery is diminishing our quality of life. It is a pride that says, “Why can’t I eat that? I refuse to be deprived of my very right to put whatever I want in to my body whenever I want to put it there! After all, it is my body, it tastes good and makes me feel good…at least temporarily.”
We have that right because we are given CHOICES. If I were God and I knew all that I know in my finite mind about food and nutrition I can tell you right now I would not be so generous. I would be certain that my creation would be eating GOOD food, food that was making them healthy and not sick. Food that made their bodies strong and not fat. (Food that I intended for them to eat, because I, being God created it that way, and I know what is best!) But I am not God…and He is much more gracious than me. Therefore we have Carnival Cruises filled with more food options than you can imagine and most folks that are choosing to eat 2 to 3 hamburgers in one sitting as well as every buffet dessert option on the bar. The volume of calories consumed in the one week alone was astronomical and I am not even considering alcohol in the equation.
Good news! The boat has a gym. A gym with trainers who teach seminars about how folks can eat what they want and still lose weight! A gym that was occupied by 5-15 people (at the most) when I was there…and a gym that took up very little space compared to the volume of people on the ship!
Whew! I know what you are thinking! Get her off that ship and off her soap box!
Friends! Unlike the trainers on the ship…I CARE about my friends and family. I care about my clients. I care about the young 20 something young woman who was 200lbs over”fat”, and the sweet little boy with red hair and freckles who had trouble walking around the ship due to the excess amount of weight on his precious 10 year old body! I care that they know truth. I care less about people being offended and more about their future well-being and life long health and wellness.
My personal journey in nutritional changes did not occur until just a few years ago. I know if I had read a blog like this a few years ago I would have quickly exited the site and made a mental note to never read the “Wellness Wednesdays” section of the blog! Having said this, I started small. We made simple small changes as a family. So hear me say loud and clear…if you are fueling your body with things that are not real food…if you are skipping breakfast…if you are only eating 3 small meals a day…if you are eating 3 large meals a day…if you are only eating a small percentage of your daily fruit and vegetables…if you are eating food with more than 10-15 ingredients or ingredients you can’t pronounce…if you are not drinking water…if you are eating a lot of simple carbs and processed foods…if you eat out more than you eat in…then PLEASE…
Jump ship. Get off at the next port. Start to make small changes…read labels not the front of the box but the back of the box…eat fresh produce and lots of it…shop at a famrers market or the peripheries of the grocery store…eat breakfast…eat a small mini meal/snack every 4 hours…limit fast food…don’t drink your calories (i.e. soda, juice), drink LOTS of water…start to “cook in” more than eating out…take an hour or two and watch Food Inc. or grab a copy of The China Study. Start by doing one or two SMALL THINGS.
Our cruise was wonderful for our family and was a much needed cooking break for me. I treasured every morsel I put in my mouth. I treasured every waiter who took my plates away. I would not trade the experience and was thankful for the opportunity for my awareness to be raised. Now it is my turn to raise YOUR awareness. Consider making a small dietary change or two. AND here is my SHAMELESS PLUG: Go check out FORKS OVER KNIVES (http://forksoverknives.com/) Join me this weekend on Saturday night as we view the Raleigh Premiere of Forks Over Knives! (Wakefield 12) It just might give you the courage you need to JUMP SHIP!