Growing up on health food

Behind the Screen

My pregnancy this year was riddled with cravings and I mean CRAVINGS. I wanted junk food but mostly sweets. It’s crazy because although I’ve always had an intense sweet tooth, this time it was far beyond my expectations.

Now that the baby is here I expected my sweets craving to subside, but no, it’s still here with a vengeance.

It could be because I need to drink a lot more water, nursing does tend to deplete your body pretty quickly of the necessary sustenance, or it could be because I’m trying to get back all those years I lost growing up eating health food.

Ever since I can remember my family was into “health food”. Nowadays that label is put on everything “all natural white”. I never knew white could be natural? And if it is, then what was it before when they were selling it? Unnatural?

But back to the whole health food thing. So my parents were very strict in things like junk food. We never ate out at fast food restaurants and once in awhile it was a treat to go to this healthy breakfast place that made whole wheat pancakes (this was back when health food tasted like cardboard).

When we were traveling in the car, my mom made sandwiches (again with that cardboard whole wheat bread) and that’s what we ate. My dad refused to stop at any McDonalds. I remember gazing longingly out the window when we’d pass one by. And if we ever went in one it was only because it was a place to use the bathroom. I remember thinking in my head, “Please let baba order us some french fries, please please please!” and when I finished my turn using the bathroom and came out to see if my wish was fulfilled, my dad was all, “Yella everyone back in the car.” Bummer, no fries!

It’s funny to me when I analyze this topic because on one hand I can get really obsessed with health food and figuring out what’s the best thing to eat for optimal well-being but at the same time I can get really obsessed with junk food. Where is the moderation?

I used to tell my mom that when I grew up I would stock my shelves with candy and let my kids eat whatever they want. She would just laugh and say, “We’ll see.”

The tables have turned and I actually am not fond of giving my oldest daughter sweets (the other one is just a newborn so I don’t have to stress over her yet). But I give them here and there. My husband told me it’s best not to deprive children, just let them think it’s a normal thing. So instead of hording the sweets behind locked doors and making a child feel like it’s such an ordeal, it’s kind of like, hey we have some candy and you might have a small piece after you eat your meal.

I’m not sure if growing up deprived of junk food has made me want it more or if it’s because junk food has addictive qualities in it. But I do know that it has helped me in some ways better able to judge the nutritious content of things and I know when I eat a big Mac that I better hit the treadmill STAT.

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This article has 8 comments

  1. Mariam Sobh

    All of you are making me SO HUNGRY 🙂
    I do have to say that when I eat healthier I feel a lot better/more energetic. The sad thing is that great healthy food is always more expensive than junk food. I wish it was the other way around.

    Kelly sorry to hear about the food allergies, but it definitely make you more aware/cautious of what’s in foods. I think my oldest daughter is allergic to pistachios and possibly cashews too.

  2. Kelly

    ok totally forgot about this (the baby woke up last night while i was posting). Anyhow, since we’ve got so many food allergies (baby is also allergic to cashews) and I’m also kind of a food snob we rarely dine out, and very very very rarely make anything that is packaged. Usually I make everything from scratch. (With the exception of bread, but I can do that, I just choose not to).

    We try to eat lots of variety, and lots of fresh fruits and veggies, very little preservatives, colors etc. Not totally against it, but really trying to stick to food that God made.

    I do let the kids have sweets (especially teh baby since we’re potty training, and everytime she uses the loo she gets a smartee (not the chocolate kind, the sugar kind).

  3. caraboska

    When I was growing up, we didn’t eat veg, but healthy, and elegant stuff – you know, New York Times International Cookbook, etc. I always had the feeling that I was eating better than the average. That meat and potatoes is fine at Grandma’s – and of course far better than the average meat and potatoes – but otherwise, that kind of food is just too… ordinary. And cholesterol containing. And sodium containing. And not-enough-roughage containing. And carcinogenic. And all that good stuff. So I was more than content with what I got at home, even if it was way different from the average.

  4. Kelly

    LOL mimie!

    Cara, that sandwich sounds fantastic!

    We have a lot of food allergies at our house. When we used to live in the Chicago burbs it was a good distance to any zabiha halal (just call it the muslim version of a kosher butcher shop), so we used to eat a lot of tvp, morningstar farms, tofu etc. In fact, my oldest dd one of her firsts foods was tofu.

    Turns out she’s allergic to it. No wonder she used to cry all the time. And she’s allergic to peanuts too. She has some other diagnosed allergies, but there is no reaction so we do eat them in moderation (beef and dairy).

    The baby (ok toddler) is allergic to CHOCOLATE. will finish later…

  5. Mimie

    As Salaamu ‘Alaykum,

    BTW, I had mad cravings in my pregnancy. Lord have mercy! Most of the time it was halaal Chinese Mongolian lamb. Other times, I craved tripes, ox tail and all kinds of animal parts I hadn’t eaten in decades. My husband suffered a lot, but he simply grinned, took the car keys and like a hunter-gatherer went in search of my next craving. 🙂

  6. Mimie

    As Salaamu ‘Alaykum,

    Could it also be possible that you are craving sweets because you’re slightly anaemic. Anaemia is a common disease in pregnant women and people from certain ethnic groups. So sometimes, you find yourself craving sweets around “that time of the month” and when you’re pregnant and have low iron.

    That aside, I know what you’re talking about. I too grew up on health foods and know what it’s like to want what others eat. Marriage was a big challenge because my husband loves deep fried food and thinks that food without MSG is bland. That has since changed 🙂 Yay!

    Right now I’m craving some salty parmesan cheese crackers. Help!

  7. caraboska

    Almond meal, fruit and agave. That sounds yummy. Who needs chocolate with something like that? I actually eat pretty healthy most of the time. And here in my supposedly ‘developing’ adopted country, I can get whole wheat bread that is so dark and chunky, you can see every little grain, and only just enough dough to be able to call it bread. It’s so delicious I can chow it down with absolutely nothing on it.

    When I have a craving for ‘junk food’, I get a zapiekanka. You can make it at home too. You slice an appropriate length of baguette in half lengthwise, and then lay out on the cut surface mushrooms and cheese, and you grill the open-face sandwich until the cheese melts. That’s the basic zapiekanka. Poles often just put ketchup on it and eat it that way.

    But you can also put all kinds of veggies on it – pickles, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, corn, hot chili peppers, whatever.
    And then a sauce on top – tzatziki, harissa, or a mixture of the two. My favorite place in town loads the zapiekanka down so much with that stuff that there’s more veggies than bread by the time they’re done. Fantastic stuff. And I’m sure that if one looked for it, one could find whole-wheat baguettes 😀 Or failing that, one could make mini-zapiekanki with smaller pieces of bread.

    Or there’s a bakery nearby that sells nice sandwiches – with egg salad, or white cheese and veggies (and they have ones with meat or tuna too, but I don’t eat those 😀 ). But of course you can get even fancier ones at a dedicated sandwich place – what is the name of that chain in the UK? They’ve got one at Heathrow…

    But you won’t get the fantastic cabbage croquettes (kapusniaki) there – you really have to go to the bakery around the corner or make them yourself. They look like they’re basically rolled-up puff pastry with cabbage baked into the middle. I don’t know how they cook the cabbage, but it has caraway seeds in it and it’s just delicious!

    And of course there’s hummus and carrots, or hummus and tomato on sandwiches… Mmm! I’m getting hungry just thinking about it!

  8. Lupi

    I’m not anti-junk food but I have to keep a strict diet for myself due to food allergies. So most of the food in the house is health food. Sometimes I worry that my daughter will rebel by eating tons of junk when she gets older. And I also worry for myself–sometimes I crave things that I have bad reactions to.
    I try to get around some of it by making my own fake “brownies” and “cookies” out of almond meal, fruit, and agave.

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