As I get older, I realize it’s all about the balance. As a mom, we juggle so many hats and if you’re like me, most days I get frustrated because I didn’t get everything done. And from looking around the blog world, I see I’m not alone.
We all feel it, that nagging need to get.it.all.done. But, I’ve learned from experience that it’s just not possible. (If it is, and you’ve figured out the secret, PLEASE let me know!) I have so many things & projects on my “to do list” that I want to accomplish, but I have learned that you have to have balance. You have to learn the balance in every aspect of life and believe me, it’s not easy.
I currently struggle with one such aspect. If you read my introduction post, you know that I recently embarked on a journey to rid our house of unnecessary food dyes and flavorings. Like most parents, I want what’s best for my kids. Food is definitely an area that we usually scrutinize. Is that box of neon colored fruit sticks the most healthy choice? No, absolutely not. Not with all the suspicions behind food dyes, it’s enough to make anyone nervous. I have seen all the research linking food dyes to children’s behavior and it really caught my eye. And when you see that most of Europe no longer allows artificial food dyes of any kind, you wonder why in the world we here in the United States do?
In fact, most American food manufacturers have modified the “American” versions of their products to contain NO artificial food dyes when sold in Europe. Crazy, huh? Why can’t they just do that here? It’s very frustrating that so many products on the supermarket shelves today contain some kind of artificial dye (most of the time it’s strictly for aesthetics). I don’t like the idea of my kids ingesting large quantities of petroleum (which is what food dye is made from) and it’s really sad that we have to settle for something that’s been deemed unacceptable to the population of Europe.
Eliminating the dyes in theory is a GREAT idea, but in reality I personally found it to be a nightmare. It was challenging to me to buy all natural, organic food on a very limited budget and still have enough food in the pantry to feed 4 hungry kids and 1 EXTREMELY hungry husband. My pantry was rarely full and the one box of snacks I bought (for $5) was gone in one day – at my house, 4 kids can devour a box of ANYTHING at one sitting.
To cut down on costs, I tried making things from scratch and I did in fact, start making my own granola & chocolate syrup, which surprisingly enough, are both very easy to do and the kids love them. But when I tried to venture out and cook other things, it just became this extra challenge during my day that I really didn’t want or NEED for that matter.
It was also a HUGE time sucker and since I don’t love cooking anyway, I’m sure not going to stick with making homemade EXTRA stuff on top of cooking 3 meals a day. The whole process of reading labels, trying to make everything from scratch, the interventions (“No, you can only have the WHITE snowcone, popsicle, etc. (insert colored food of choice here).” became ALL CONSUMING and I realized that’s not what I wanted to focus my time and energy on. Period.
So therein lies the struggle. I struggled in the war against food dyes and realized, like everything else and every other situation in my life, there has to be a Balance. I found that balance for me in this situation was NOT to try and read every label. NOT to try and make everything from scratch. NOT to obsess over each and every little thing they put in their mouths. While that’s great if that’s what you choose to do, I choose to simply try and avoid as many of the food dyes that I can and just feed my children healthy food. That’s balance for me in this situation.
I do still read the labels on most items and if there’s a better (cheaper) alternative without dyes, I’ll most certainly buy it, but if it’s a product where the only alternatives are to make it from scratch or buy the $10 organic version, guess which I’ll be buying?
That being said, I’m not going to go the supermarket and buy every fluorescent box of treats my kids throw in the cart. In fact, I subconsciously think of all the food coloring in just about every product I see now, so totally reverting back to the way we used to eat just isn’t going to happen. I do, however believe in everything in moderation and believe that if I do my best to eliminate most unnecessary artificial colors, my kids will be just fine. I mean, we all grew up drinking red Koolaid and eating neon ice pops and we all turned out just fine, didn’t we? (Don’t answer that.) 🙂