So I am officially a soccer mom and my daughter plays soccer with the organization in our very large housing development. This week as I chatted with some of the other soccer moms, the topic of eating out came up. One of them noted that it seemed like I posted on Facebook in a way that led people to believe that we pretty much never eat out but here I was talking about having eaten out way too much this month. I told her that we went in spurts… which is true.
During the majority of any given year, we eat out once/week at breakfast–which is both to accommodate dietary needs and budgetary needs. Breakfast is way cheaper than dinner and we have a great place that accounts for almost all of our worst offenders. Breakfast out on a weekend morning is also a stronghold in our marriage. Mike and I did this through our engagement and the first five childless years of marriage. It was a time we could stop and focus on one another without cooking or cleaning or answering the phone or whatever. When our son came along, the local diner watched him grow up from being put on the table in a bucket carrier to having his own plate of food. Four years later, our daughter was brought into the mix. The tradition lives on. We budget for it.
Beyond that, we might eat dinner out 2 times per month–one of those being a date night for me and the husbeau. Realize: we homeschool and my husband works from home. Inasmuch as we homeschoolers are not often home, we have our weeks. Sometimes, we just need out of the house.
Now… this usually amounts to roughly 6 meals/month out of 90. Not really a big deal. The rest of the meals are predominantly whole foods–often from farmers we know.
On the flip… we all have our “seasons”.
My family moved in August, had a crisis that lasted from mid-October through the end of the year (with people watching our children all day and providing meals for us for 3 weeks in there), and then we bought and closed on our “new” home in late February, and proced to have to do a boatload of repair work as we slowly moved in. It was without question the most stressful “season” of our lives. And we did pretty well until we bought the house and spent lots of time between the two homes. From mid-March until just this week, we easily ate out at least 5 meals of our 21 meal week. At least. And one or two of those weeks, it had to be closer to 10. Our five-year-old (wise beyond her years) daughter is all about hotels and eating out (the girl is going to be a travel writer, I’m sure) and when SHE piped up and said “We’ve been eating out too much”… it hit us pretty hard. This is a kid who would sooner starve than eat at home. I silently cried at the truth of it and jumped with elation that we might finally be over the eating-at-home wars with her.
Eating out hit us 42 ways to Sunday. Money was a huge problem, for one. Yup… eating out was far more destructive to our budget than buying pastured meat and local, organic produce. But we also suffer for it. Physically, the number of bowel movements decreased significantly (and were not as quick and easy). Belly aches set in. Weight increased. My stomach started bloating. Sleeplessness became common–for everyone. Emotionally, our oldest was more distracted than ever. Our smallest was clingy (which could’ve partially been the move, too). The combination of all of this led to a level of stress we haven’t endured in a really long time.
Despite the fact that you cannot walk through my kitchen without tripping over a box, we have buckled down to getting back on track.
Costco sells large bags of frozen organic vegetables. We have meat in the freezer and quinoa. And we are eating the same few ingredients day in and day out… probably still with more diversity than most of the world population gets day to day.
My weight dropped 4 pounds in 2 days.
My family is not perfect. You are probably not going to be perfect. Be gentle with yourself. Let it go. Know that today matters even if the last 462 (or more) were crap. It’s easy to say “Well I ate a whole bag of chips yesterday, I might as well have this ice cream today”. You have to take the first step somewhere to get on the wagon. Maybe it will be one step forward and two steps back. That’s okay: every regression is a learning experience. You’re not going to nail it right off the bat. Small steps. It ALL matters.
I’ve been there. MORE than once. If you need help and encouragement, find a friend. If you need that or more, come to me. <3