Sometimes I focus on the lame-o aspects of Paleo because I get tired of hearing so much rah-rah about how easy and simple and perfect it is. It’s hard. When I am in a bad place and see how someone effortlessly eats Paleo for all virtuous reasons, I feel like a total loser.
I know I’m not a total loser (or even a minor loser) and I know Paleo isn’t easy for everyone. Probably isn’t easy for a lot of folks, which is why I like to write about the sucky aspects of good nutrition. I like the support and I like being supportive.
Unfortunately, I also risk sounding too complainy, which is certainly not the tone I try to convey. Paleo really did save my life and that’s not something I take lightly. Being realistic about challenges and being ungrateful is such a fine line.
So the other day, when I was cooking vegetables for the 800th time and murmuring about how other parents can give their kids crackers, I realized Paleo makes parenting harder. And easier too. Because let’s face it: Parenting is hard, whether you eat kale or not. There’s a silver lining if you are so inclined to look.
How Paleo Improves My Mama Skillz
Paleo does in fact make certain aspects of parenting easier. Here are my 5 favorite complaints and how they are also my favorite blessings.
Number 1: Food Prep Is Never, Ever Convenient
Why It’s Awesome: My kids love it. I sit them on the counter and they learn how to cook, which gives us plenty of family togetherness and fills hours in the day that I don’t have to think of an activity or enforce “alone play-time.” Plus, my new favorite game is to peel carrots as fast as possible and watch their heads bob while trying to pick up scraps and throw them in a bowl. Picture whack-a-mole with a lot less coordination.
Number 2: Cooking, Cooking, Cooking = Anxiety
Image by Cyn74
Why It’s Lame: I don’t like to cook and it sometimes triggers anxiety, which is a nice treat 3 times a day.
Why It’s Awesome: Absence of anxiety over whether or not my kids’ meals are nutritious. I can’t pull an Uncrustable from the freezer (which I want to, sometimes), yet I don’t have any guilt about what they are eating. The sound of my Littles fighting over the last of the zucchini is music to my ears.
Number 3: Family Traditions Just Aren’t the Same Without Normal-People Food
Why It’s Lame: Mom’s egg rolls and pancit, Abuela’s tamales, rice at every meal including Thanksgiving. My husband’s fond memories of sourdough pancakes, frog-eye salad, homemade rolls every Sunday. These are sometime foods for my husband, never-ever foods for the baby, and anything with gluten is off-limits for my son and I. The childhood memories I hold so dear and looked forward to passing on…won’t be passed on. Or perhaps they will, and we will watch the extended family enjoy it.
Why It’s Awesome: Now that food can’t be the centerpiece, we are forced to create relationship-based traditions. Instead of making cinnamon rolls on Christmas Eve, we had our first-annual Family Olympics. All of a sudden, Christmas was about being together and not about eating dinner and fudge.
Number 4: Everything Outside of the Home Involves Junk Food
Why It’s Lame: Festival scones, parade candy, church fruit snacks, school lunches, bank lollipops, library story time crackers–junk food everywhere. Can’t my kids fit in anywhere? Why does there need to be an artificially-flavored juice box at every event and non-event?
Why It’s Awesome: Then again, we just went to the movie theater and a handful of kids were crying and tantruming that they couldn’t get the soda, ice cream, AND nachos to go with their popcorn. My son asked once, has consistently been told no, and into the movie we marched to enjoy Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. The movie was the treat, not the pseudo-meal that goes with it.
Number 5: Parents (and Doctors) Are Judging Me
Image by texasfarmersdaughter
Why It’s Lame: Yep, they are. “If you don’t give your baby rice cereal, they will be iron deficient and it will cause allergies later.” “Just give the kid a Popsicle.” “What, you think you’re better than me?” “How long are you going to breastfeed that baby? It’s been way too long.” “Your kids aren’t getting enough nutrients, that’s why they’re so small.” “It’s not right that your kids have never had candy.”
Why It’s Awesome: Going against the grain (haha) has forced me to really figure out my priorities. Because my children’s well-being is at risk, I have to stop worrying about what other people will think. I have to stop sacrificing my children’s health in favor of an acquaintance’s convenience or comfort level. This has been incredibly challenging. However, it’s taught me to trust my intuition (it was there the whole time) and find a safe haven within myself. I am stronger and more secure because of it (For the record, my son has had candy while my daughter has not).
And of course…
Parents learn these lessons without eating Paleo too. But for me, Paleo slammed it in my face and ensured that I got the message loud and clear sooner rather than later. For that, I am grateful.
Does real food make parenting easier for you? What have been some of the unintended benefits?