Help me help area families learn how to eat and be healthy

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, May 22, 2013

This past weekend I learned about a new program from a company that is based on a healthier diet and lifestyle. I know, you just threw your hands up. I feel the same way.

All of the information we are bombarded with on daily basis regarding our health is so confusing. It doesn’t help that much of what we are getting comes from respected doctors and medical centers or that everything has its own study to back it up. Of course it contradicts the very well researched study from the week before.

There’s the Paleo diet, the clean diet, eating gluten-free, high protein, raw diet and the list goes on and on. There are also more two-income families than ever before and single parents who work all day and go home to children with homework, activities and the need to put a healthy dinner on the table. Night after night this challenge faces us, never mind the breakfasts that need to be cooked and lunches that need to be packed.

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How are we supposed to filter through all of this information and find the best way to take care of ourselves and our children? I am by no means a registered dietician or an expert on this subject. Everyone who knows me is aware that I need to lose weight, cut back on my coffee intake, up my water intake and eat more nutritiously. And exactly how I’m going to do that on a budget and in the middle of a 9- to 10-hour work day is still the burning question.

Some things about eating right just seem to be common sense. Of course I want my chicken to be hormone and antibiotic free. I think it’s bizarre that I have to say that and look for it. But because of the way many animals are raised for consumption these additives have become common place. I always wash my fruits and vegetables. However, now when I look at their glossy, completely perfect exteriors, I wonder what was sprayed on them to kill every single little bug that ever existed and how much of that chemical am I eating.

Eating in season is another thing that people act like they’ve never heard of. My daughter, Emily and I love fresh peaches. We wait all year for that brief little moment of summer where they are perfectly ripe, and we eat them every day for as long as they last. But we don’t eat them in November and December, because even if the sticker says organic they obviously were shipped from somewhere like Peru. Which means they were either picked green and shipped or sprayed with who knows what. The fact is you aren’t meant to eat fresh peaches in the winter. But we as a society are so spoiled that we think we should be able to obtain whatever we want grocery wise, whenever we want it, and we are sacrificing a great deal to be able to do that.

After hearing so much talk about processed food I opened my pantry up to peruse the items I had in there. Most of these items I would have told you were just staples to help “fill-out” a meal, and I had chosen them fairly carefully. Well, I didn’t feel that way after I read the labels. There was all kinds of weird sounding names on those labels. To make matters worse, Emily, who is chemistry major and just finished a year of organic chemistry read one and the only comment she made was, “I don’t think you are really supposed to eat this stuff.”

So here’s what I would love to have from you. How do you help your family eat healthy but not consider yourself on a diet every day? Do you eat by certain rules such Paleo, clean or gluten-free and if so, how have you adapted your diet to fit this? I will include your tips in my upcoming columns.


Christina Hall writes a food column for The Natchez Democrat. She can be reached at