I saved another “healthier” food alternative video from one of my favorite Instagram influencers. My feed is now littered with “better” choices when feeding my children — “better” and sometimes very financially impractical. We often hear the debate that you can’t put a price on your health or you are what you eat. Some days, we are a kale salad; others, we are a fast food sandwich. Aside from the fact that I support a lifestyle of balance, my inner child finds some fast food nostalgic. It’s no secret that I’m a health food advocate. I dedicated the early part of my college career to completing a degree in dietetics because of my love for holistic health. There is a background story that led to this passion that I recently shared with my three kids. It started with an ad I saw from McDonald’s on National Cheeseburger Day regarding $0.50 cheeseburgers.
To preface this story, my son told me he wasn’t hungry when I made him a plate of fresh berries. I cringed inside because all I could think about was how I would have loved to eat a plate full of fresh berries when I was his age… but back to the McDonald’s burger story. I grew up one of seven children, and my parents had a very limited income. “Healthy” meant fed, not your colorful Instagram-worthy post of lean meats and fresh produce. McDonald’s used to have a 10-cent hamburger on Tuesdays and a 20-cent cheeseburger deal on Wednesdays. Each drive-through car was only allowed to order ten burgers, so my mom would drive through twice so she could purchase 20 burgers. Let’s do the math: To feed a family of nine on Tuesdays, she only spent $2.00 plus tax, and on Wednesdays, it was less than $5.00 for the whole family to have a meal. We never complained about eating a fast food burger; it was something we looked forward to. However, on many occasions, I wished I could try something fresh and colorful. I vividly remember sitting in the cafeteria at my middle school and seeing a girl eat a kiwi every day at lunch. Her mom cut the kiwi in half, and she ate it with a spoon. I always wondered what a kiwi tasted like, but it wasn’t until years later that I would taste my first kiwi after starting my first job.
It’s a privilege to choose healthier alternatives. Eating a rainbow diet, fully avoiding processed foods, and many times giving someone dietary health advice is a privilege. Some families eat for calories; they don’t have the privilege of choosing food items based on nutritional value. There are many times that I have caught myself while giving someone dietary advice, and I am reminded of the little girl in middle school who wished she could try a kiwi.